The Doxing of Elena Ferrante.

It was a bad weekend for American journalism, by which I mean it was kind of an atrocious weekend because the standard is already fairly low, with a TIME Inc. division firing its editor-in-chief for, apparently, hiring an adult film actress to write about sports, creating a fake columnist to argue with her, and then lying about the whole thing; and now a New York Post columnist saying Derrick Rose has made a bad first impression on Knicks fans with the “noise of a rape trial.” But all of that is sort of par for the course, especially in our little corner of the journalism world.

The real atrocity, however, was the soi-disant “premier literary-intellectual magazine in the English language,” the New York Review of Books, choosing to out pseudonymous author Elena Ferrante (whose best-selling novel My Brilliant Friend I reviewed this summer) by, among other things, combing through financial and real estate records. It was a malicious, tawdry exercise in placing money over integrity, the sort of yellow journalism we might expect from the Drudge Report or an alt-right site, doxing a woman who’d make it clear she wanted to remain out of the public eye.

The column, written by an Italian journalist, claims that Ferrante, by writing a quartet of bestselling novels, “has in a way relinquished her right to disappear,” while making no actual argument to support this claim, probably because the author – and the NYRB editors who must have died on the way to work that morning, given their abdication of their responsibilities by letting the piece run – can’t do so. There was simply no public need to know at work here. Ferrante is not a public figure, not a politician, not a businessperson seeking tax breaks or handouts, not claiming to be anything at all that she’s not. She’s a successful author who sought to speak through her writing, and to barely speak at all through any other medium.

Outing an author who sought anonymity for its own sake would be bad enough, but here a male reporter has chosen to reveal the identity of a female author who may have (or have had, I suppose) motivations for her secrecy that should, if nothing else, have kept this article from seeing the light of day. What if Ferrante is a victim of domestic abuse, hiding from her former partner? Or a rape or sexual assault victim doing the same? Whatever her reason(s) for choosing to write and remain behind a pseudonym, it is not for any of us to choose to unmask her, to decide that this reason isn’t good enough to maintain the veil … but a woman may choose to hide her identity out of fear of physical harm. This muckraker, with the help of a periodical that aspires to intellectual superiority, has put this woman on blast for no discernible benefit to anyone but the writer and the publication, with no apparent concern whatsoever for whatever physical or emotional consequences Ferrante herself might suffer. Ferrante appears to have been simply too successful for this man or the New York Review of Books to allow her to succeed in peace.

(As of 11 am on Monday, I haven’t heard any response, via email or Twitter, from NYRB. I will update if one appears.)

UPDATE: The woman outed as Ferrante has confirmed the account (in Italian), and has opened a Twitter account (same) to say she will never speak about Ferrante’s books and to call the revelation a “vulgar and dangerous … violation of privacy and norms.”

Music update, September 2016.

Just a not-very-subtle reminder that you can preorder my upcoming book, Smart Baseball, on amazon. Also, please sign up for my more-or-less weekly email newsletter, the latest issue of which went out yesterday.

September turned out to be a huge month for new tracks, from some of my favorite alternative acts to some major names in metal, and I struggled to pare this playlist to twenty songs. It’s good to get to be selective, though. Spotify users can link to the playlist directly.

Everything Everything – I Believe It Now. A one-off single from the group, who placed two songs very high on my top 100 of 2013 and whose third album, Get to Heaven, finally appeared in the U.S. earlier this year. Their music doesn’t really sound like anybody else’s, although in this case they’ve toned down some of the lyrical insanity of their prior singles.

Wild Beasts – Big Cat. Another English band that, like Everything Everything and alt-J, makes artful, unexpected music that’s definitely rock(ish) but defies many conventions of structure and sound within the genre. Wild Beasts’ album Boy King is one of the best albums of 2016, more melodic than their previous album, 2014’s acclaimed Present Tense. This track is one of among my favorites, not least for the line “big cat top of the food chain” in the chorus.

Van William – Revolution (feat. First Aid Kit). Friend of the dish Van Pierszalowski – no relation to A.J. Pierzynski – has released his second single under the Van William moniker, separate from his main work with WATERS, and it’s a very strong, hooky folk-rock track very much in the vein of the previous single “Fourth of July.”

Grimes – Medieval Warfare. This track from the Suicide Squad soundtrack, written from the perspective of character Harley Quinn, isn’t quite up to the caliber of Art Angels, especially since she sings so much of it in that little-girl voice that killed “Oblivion” for me.

Mt. Si – Oh. That’s Sarah Chernoff of Superhumanoids on vocals for her new project, named after a mountain in Washington state. It’s more ethereal – even spacey – than her work with Superhumanoids, but her voice carries the day whatever the music. Mt. Si’s debut EP, Limits, dropped back in February.

D.A.R.K. – The Moon. Featuring the Cranberries’ lead singer and the Smiths’ bassist, D.A.R.K. released their first album, Science Agrees, last month, an understated, bass-heavy record of gothic-electronic tracks like this one, which I thought had the best hook on the record.

Dagny – Ultraviolet. This Norwegian pop singer’s “Backbeat” made my top 100 last year and has been a steady favorite of my daughter’s since the song came out; I haven’t loved Dagny’s singles this year to that extent but she definitely has a ‘sound’ that I think deserves a wider audience here than it’s gotten so far.

The Radio Dept. – Swedish Guns. Sometimes I’m putting together these lists and come across a song by an act I’ve never heard of, so I assume they’re relatively new, only to find out that, as in the case of the Swedish duo The Radio Dept., they’ve been recording for over a decade. Their fourth album, Running Out of Love, comes out later this month, and this lead single is sort of a stoner/electronic track, like dream-pop without much pop.

Little Green Cars – The Song They Play Every Night. This Irish quintet had my favorite song of 2013, “Harper Lee,” but the rest of their debut album lacked the soaring hooks of that Mamas-and-Papas-inflected track. This song, from their March album Ephemera, is subtler but no less beautiful for its understatement, while still harkening back to the earliest days of folk music from the ’60s.

Preoccupations – Stimulation. The band formerly known as Viet Cong is back under a new, less-controversial name, although they still sound a lot like early Interpol and the early ’80s post-punks who influenced that band. Preoccupations is an intense, unsettling record where there’s almost too much going on to grasp it all at once – but I think, given the band’s and album’s name, that may have been their intent.

Nick Murphy – Fear Less. Another name-changer, as Murphy previously recorded under the (stupid) name Chet Faker. The slow build here from ambient electronica to drum-and-bass chaos is made more potent by the lack of a real resolution, a la Mercury Rev’s “Hercules” from All is Dream.

Lucius – Pulling Teeth. Lucius’s sophomore album Good Grief came out in March, with a pair of strong singles in “Born Again Teen” and “Almost Makes Me Wish For Rain,” but the Brooklyn band is releasing a two-song, 10″ single with two songs that didn’t make the cut, including this track about the writer’s block they encountered while writing the album.

La Sera – Queens. The main project from Katy Goodman, the former bassist of the Vivian Girls, La Sera put out an album in March that didn’t feature any standout songs for me, but this title track from their new five-song EP is one of their best … as is the EP’s closer, a bass-heavy cover of Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love.”

Mona – In the Middle. This Ohio band hasn’t released anything since 2013’s “Goons (Baby I Need It All),” but this title track from a forthcoming EP sounds like they’re aiming for more mainstream airplay without losing that slightly grating edge that’s always populated their music.

Opeth – Sorceress. These guys used to be a metal band, I swear. I know their post-metal dive into prog-rock is incredibly divisive, but they’ve produced some brilliant moments across their last two albums with nary a trace of their extreme-metal roots. This song, though, goes even further back than their ’70s progressive roots, to late ’60s/early ’70s psychelic rock, married with Sabbath-esque doom metal riffing and drum work.

Ghost B.C – Square Hammer. The best track among the five new songs on the deluxe edition of their 2015 album Meliora, featuring the Grammy-winning “Cirice,” which I mention mostly because a black-metal band won a Grammy and its singer accepted the award in corpse paint.

Alcest – Je suis d’ailleurs. I wasn’t familiar with Alcest before this record, probably because their 2013 album Shelter saw them abandon metal for straight shoegaze, where prior to that they’d been dubbed a ‘blackgaze’ band that merged black metal with shoegaze, much as the critically acclaimed (and unlistenable) Deafheaven have since done. This song finds Alcest returning to their previous blend of post-rock walls of sound and heavy but not too extreme metal, sort of like My Bloody Valentine as a post-metal act.

Testament – Brotherhood of the Snake. In a fourteen-month span from September 2015 to November 2016, the five biggest thrash bands ever (Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax, Testament) will release new albums, making me wonder if I’ve slipped into a wormhole back to high school. Unlike those other bands, though, Testament never broke through the way the Big Four did; they had the chops, but not the hooks. Today, though, they might be the best of the five, because their sound has evolved, incorporating heavier sounds like black metal and the regrettably-named “groove metal” into their traditional thrash, which gives Chuck Billy & company more shot at creating memorable hooks. I’m cautiously optimistic.

Insomnium – Winter’s Gate, Pt. 4. I really liked this Finnish melodic death metal band’s 2014 album Shadows of a Dying Sun, but their newest album, Winter’s Gate, is a single 40-minute track that I found a little hard to get my head around. On Spotify the track is broken into more digestible chunks, and this particular one stands out as something akin to a single. Insomnium mixes clean and growled vocals well, and aren’t afraid to use some less metal instrumentation, all of which is in evidence here.

Dark Tranquillity – The Pitiless. One of the forefathers of the melodic death metal movement and its Gothenburg scene, DT will release their eleventh album, Atoma, on November 4th, their first without founding bass player Martin Henriksson. Where fellow Gothenburg acts have disappeared for two decades (At the Gates), devolved into hackneyed thrash/death territory (Arch Enemy), or just plain suck (In Flames), Dark Tranquility have expanded their sound as much as the limits of melodic death metal might allow, evident here on this very heavy track, which is highlighted by some pedal-point guitar riffing between the growled verses.

Stick to baseball, 10/1/16.

My annual look at players I got wrong went up for Insiders on Thursday, and the list starts with the amazing season Kyle Hendricks has had. Earlier this week I wrote about the increasing production coming from MLB’s youngest position players, although I admit I don’t have a great explanation for the trend. I held my regular Klawchat here on Thursday.

Over at Paste, I reviewed 7 Ronin, a fantastic two-player game with a Seven Samurai theme that plays in under a half hour. It’s ninjas versus samurai for control of a small village, and even though the rules are asymmetrical the game is extremely balanced.

You can also preorder my upcoming book, Smart Baseball, on amazon. Also, please sign up for my more-or-less weekly email newsletter.

And now, the links…

Klawchat, 9/29/16.

My annual look at players I got wrong is up for Insiders. You can also preorder my upcoming book, Smart Baseball, on amazon.

Klaw: I’m sorry, but I’m just thinking of the right words to say. Klawchat.

Lark11: I’m curious about your view (if I recall correctly) that A.J. Preller shouldn’t be fired for the player medical records machinations. Wasn’t that pure fraud/intentional misrepresentation? Coming on the heels of Preller’s previous misdeed, isn’t this an important data point? Doesn’t it call into question the integrity of the entire organization?
Klaw: I think you’re assuming we know all the details of the transgression. I certainly don’t.

Chris Matthews: Who’s your favorite foreign leader?
Klaw: President Don Vincente Ribiera.

Nelson: If news came out the next day that Fernandez was drunk and driving the boat, would/should the memorials have been any different?
Klaw: I was afraid that this might actually happen. His death isn’t any less of a tragedy for it. We might choose not to honor him in the same way, but I would hate to see anyone argue that we shouldn’t mourn his death.

Omar Little: Is Verlander or Kluber the frontrunner for CY young right now? JV has the better numbers overall, but not by much. I know Sale is up there too. It won’t be Porcello will it? Thanks KLAW for all you do!
Klaw: I think Verlander’s got a solid narrative behind him – we thought he was done as an elite starter, now he’s probably top 3 in the league – although I am not sure I’d put him over Sale or Kluber.

Jake: If we are going to focus on the SSS of Tebow yesterday, how about we discuss the 5 outs in 6 at bats against players ten years younger?
Klaw: How about we ignore him like the washed-up quarterback he is?

Daniel, Texas: Why is Ian Desmond having such a poor second half? Is Carlos Gomez the better player for CF going forward in 2017?
Klaw: Desmond’s first half was the outlier. (I’ve noticed the trolls telling me I was wrong to criticize that signing have disappeared, too.) I prefer Gomez’s raw ability and potential for plus defense, but isn’t banking on him a huge bet on a tiny sample?

Brian Gunn: Hi Klaw. In today’s ESPN piece you write that the Cubs “position their fielders as well as any team in baseball.” Yet they also shift less often than any team in baseball. Does Sean Ahmed (their defensive metrics guru) know something normally progressive teams like the Astros and Pirates don’t? And if so, do you think there will be a move AWAY from shifts in upcoming seasons?
Klaw: It’s a coding issue – BIS doesn’t mark anything as a shift if it doesn’t involve an infielder moving to the opposite side of second base. (I’m 99% sure that’s correct.) Soif you move your shortstop so that he’s essentially behind second base, that’s not marked as a “shift,” but it looks like a shift to me – it’s extreme positioning, at least. So no, I don’t think you’ll see a move away from shifts, but you will absolutely see a rise in fine-tuning positioning per batter or per batter-pitcher combo and away from ‘dumb’ shifts where you just run the third baseman out into short right field for any pull-hitting LHB.

JT: Why and how are such terrible sites being cited during this campaign? Florida’s state GOP just tweeted a tinfoil hat site (infowars), as a for instance.
Klaw: Because people choose what they want to believe first and find links to confirm those beliefs second. Drop in on any so-called debate between vaccine denialists and, well, rational human beings, and you’ll see the former hit you with a stream of links from garbage sites that promote junk science over real research.

JR, CT: Hi Keith, would you give the Mets any chance against the Cubs with their rotation in the shape it is now. I imagine best case is the lefty power bats get/stay hot and they can slug their way to some ugly wins?
Klaw: I would never give any team in a playoff series less than 45% odds to win it.

Jeff: A question some friends and I have been thinking about – can you name a player off the top of your head, whose reputation as a “great” player has been damaged by the advent of sabermetrics? I feel like Pete Rose would be one such player. Christ, the guy was named All Century and some delusional people still argue that he is the best hitter/player who ever lived.
Klaw: Andre Dawson. Tony Perez. I guess Jim Rice, although no one ever considered him a great player until he became the Luddites’ cause celebre. Jack Morris, perhaps.

Lance: What is the ideal Wild Card game roster construction?
Klaw: Carry 5-6 relievers and stack the bench with PH options (and maybe a Terence Gore if you have one).

Jason: What were your thoughts of Jonathan Villar coming through the minors? Did you think he had this much power?
Klaw: Nope. When he was traded to Houston I wrote that I didn’t foresee more than fringe-average power. Granted that was five or six years ago, but still, he’s got more than that.

kg: If you were a GM, would you prefer to play a youngster with a low ceiling or sign a veteran that you might be able to flip at the trade deadline for better prospects? Assuming that your team isn’t expected to make the playoffs this year. I would think the veteran with hopes to acquire prospects might be a better option since most teams can afford to fit a veteran’s contract into their budget anyway.
Klaw: Depends on what that “low ceiling” is. An average everyday player who makes $500K a year is an extremely valuable commodity, even if there’s zero chance he’s ever better than that.

Nick: What’s your take on Alex Jackson? Do you still think he can become a middle-of-the-order bat with the right coaching and adjustments? Does he have to get out of the Seattle org?
Klaw: I would not give up on him entirely given his youth, but every report I got this year was negative.

Owen: Regarding Terriers (from your review of TV: The Book), it might be the greatest single-season show in history. You should absolutely try to squeeze it in this winter.
Klaw: It’s on the list I’ve created for myself, although the odds are good I won’t get through much this winter because we never seem to have that much time between when my daughter falls asleep and when we have to do the same.

Mike: Thoughts on Spencer Kieboom’s promotion?
Klaw: Great defender, pitchers love working with him, long shot to do much with the bat. The Ramos injury is just brutal for them.

NeedsMoneyToLive: I couldn’t tweet my support since I work for an MLB club, but worse than the “new GM mold” is the insistence on requiring lengthy unpaid internships in order to be considered for a job in MLB. I know you’ve supported eliminating them before but the spotlight really needs to go on this awful practice.
Klaw: Totally agree. I think everyone in MLB knows there’s a problem, but the status quo is working for individual owners so they don’t want to be the ones to change it.

Jason: How long until a team announces that, absent extraordinary circumstances, no pitcher will go through the lineup more than 3 times?
Klaw: Why announce it? Just do it. Let other teams figure it out. Plus this way you avoid media questions when those circumstances do occur.

Nick: Cesar Hernandez as a 4.2 fWAR and 3.4 bWAR. Is he really an above-average regular moving forward or are we just seeing a random spike in the defensive metrics?
Klaw: I’ve spoken to a lot of analysts while working on my book, and one thing that’s come up often is skepticism of large one-year spikes in defensive metrics like this one. If a player is +15 like CH is this year, without any history of it, you can say with some certainty that he’s been an above-average defender, but should doubt that he’s been THAT good a defender. MLB clubs have much more precise data to work with and they implied that they get fewer of these outliers.

Jason: Are advanced scouting tools inevitably skewed toward run prevention (e.g., batted ball days leading to defensive positioning)? If not, what types of things can you envision that would help offense?
Klaw: That’s what’s happening right now with analytics, but I think the new data streams will end up influencing all parts of the game. Defensive positioning is just the low-hanging fruit.

Nick: Who’s more likely to put it all together moving forward: Eric Hosmer or Yasiel Puig?
Klaw: Still think there’s something more to be extracted from Hosmer’s bat. Might need a different organization & hitting philosophy.

Marcus: Hi Keith. Thanks for the weekly chats. The Giants have been lacking a true power threat pretty much since Bonds. When I look through their minor league system, I don’t see any big-time power threats and what players they have with a modicum of power look like they strikeout a lot. Have they got anyone who could develop into a 30-40 HRs a year power threat at the big league level?
Klaw: Not off the top of my head. Shaw has that kind of raw power, but it’s a below-average hit tool (slow bat, doesn’t see the ball well). Reynolds is more like a 25 HR/25 SB guy, and strikeouts are an issue with him because he tends to run very deep counts and needs a better two-strike approach. I like him quite a bit, though, more than Shaw.

Colin: Have you written anywhere about your favorite roasters in the US? I am looking to try some new stuff
Klaw: I assume we’re talking coffee here. I haven’t, but here’s a bunch: Intelligentsia, Four Barrel, Blue Bottle, Cartel, heart, Archetype, Deeper Roots, Re-Animator, Royal Mile, Cuvee, 49th Parallel (BC).

Ridley Kemp: Rolling Stone left The Prisoner completely off their top 100 TV shows list. Were there such glaring omissions from the TV: The Book book?
Klaw: Nothing I noticed. I mentioned in my review that I thought Will & Grace might get a mention, since it was a cultural milestone, but it just wasn’t that great a show, especially after the first two seasons, and Sepinwall confirmed to me that that was the reason it didn’t make the cut. (The Prisoner wasn’t eligible for their book because it was British.)

Eric: Regarding Kyle Hendricks, you may have been wrong but certainly at least some of his success is due to landing on the right team at the right time. To his credit, he appears to have reached his 99% percentile of optimal performance. Is that more on him or on the Cubs? I feel that baseball is littered with prospects that could have been somebody if they had only been on the team with the right coaching and management in place to maximize their talent but maybe I’m overstating it.
Klaw: I talked about that a little bit, but I didn’t want to make it seem like I was somehow walking back the assertion that I made a mistake. (I hate calling it an “admission,” as if I made a moral error. “Forgive me, Bill James, for I have sinned.”) You are correct in that he is in the right place at the right time in baseball history, where the Cubs, a very analytically-minded organization top to bottom, could see him and the data and get him to throw his changeup more, to try to work more to the edges of the strike zone, to encourage contact because the fielders will be in the right places. Give the player credit too – I would always rather say, hey, I was wrong, because the kid made me wrong.

JJ: DId Yoan Moncada benefit at all from riding the bench for the Red Sox over the last six weeks? Aside from the pretty healthy per diem. In his limited ABs, he struck me as a guy who absolutely needed another 750 plate appearance in the minors (at least), not to mention a ton of innings at whatever defensive position they’ve chosen for him.
Klaw: Yes and perhaps that’s the benefit – it told everybody that he needs to start next year in the minors.

Danny: I’ve seen people suggest it would be appropriate to honor Jose Fernandez by voting for him to win the Cy Young award. Normally, I’m opposed to “stunts” like this that would otherwise never be suggested if not for tragic circumstances..but you could certainly do a lot worse with your Cy vote this year..
Klaw: He’s deserving, but not the top candidate. Perhaps the NL Cy Young Award could become the Jose Fernandez Award, and the Cy Young Award would just refer to the AL?

Ted: Do you agree with the notion that postseason results are just based on randomness?
Klaw: No. I believe that a human predicting the results will fare no better than a random prediction. I believe that a lot of luck goes into the postseason, from health to timing to matchups. But to say they’re just based on randomness would wipe out any role the players themselves play. Madison Bumgarner having the October of his life – of anyone’s life – was not “random.” The result, the Giants winning the WS as the 8th best team in baseball, may seem random in context, but the victory itself was not random.

Jason: Could Zach Davies have a similar career arc of Kyle Hendricks? I am not saying under 2 ERA good, but a solid #3 starter type?
Klaw: He was quietly very good this year, and I looked at him for today’s article but decided there wasn’t really enough of a delta between what he did and what I thought he’d be (4/5 starter). League-average starter? I’ll buy that.

Ron: Keith-Did the Twins hire Falvey? Good hire? Whom do you think he will tap for GM?
Klaw: They will be hiring him. I don’t know him that well, and am surprised they would hire a President who has never formally run a department of any sort; they interviewed Chaim Bloom, who appears to have the same skill set and background, but has managed a department before. That’s not a knock on Falvey per se, and may simply reflect my own ignorance. I have no sense of what they’ll do for GM.

William: I have a hard time understanding why people often rush to deny science and politicize it. Once a concept is established it just seems foolish to fight it. With climate change for example, it is ok to disagree with the best policies to combat it, but I fail to see how denying man’s role in it serves a political ideology. I am convinced that the vaccine deniers and climate change deniers would have been Heliocentrism “skeptics” in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Klaw: Yet we have a major political party arguing it’s bunk, and its candidate for President claiming it’s a fiction created by China. This is an existential crisis that affects everybody – the cost of food, the supply of clean water, the feasibility of living near coasts, global energy costs and supply – and slightly more than half of our polity is in abject denial.

Adam: Hunter Dozier — is he a DUDE or just a dude?
Klaw: Just a dude, I think.

Greg: Assuming all the Mets 7 good SP’s (not including Lugo) are healthy going into next yr (obviously a huge huge assumption) do you think the Mets should go straight up with a 6 man rotation?
Klaw: I’m not certain that actually helps – pitching guys less within games seems like it has more benefit in fatigue reduction. That’s based on scant evidence, though. Either way, this is hypothetical because it seems impossible that all seven will be healthy at the same time.

Jonny B: What would be more upsetting: Britton winning the AL Cy Young, or someone other than Trout winning AL MVP? For some reason, the idea of any closer winning the Cy Young seems objectively indefensible.
Klaw: Upsetting is putting it strongly; the writers as a whole are bad at this stuff and will always be, perhaps increasingly so as the gap between what teams know and what we know increases. If Trout loses, it’ll be to Betts, who’s #2. If Britton loses, it would be like David Ortiz winning MVP this year – a narrative defeating facts.

Jorge: We’re cooking a 1.5 lb corned beef using our sous vide machine. We’ve seen a ton of diff advice on what lenghth/temp to do it at. What says you?
Klaw: I say corned beef is disgusting.

Bryan: How come you love to pull the “absence of evidence…” card on a multitude of occasions, but still refuse to acknowledge the mere possibility that PED’s might assist player performance without iron clad proof?
Klaw: I’ve acknowledged the possibility on numerous occasions, and even supported it in the case of amphetamines. So I don’t think you know what you’re talking about.

JG: With Falvey only being 33, do you see any animosity with a GM who likely will be older?
Klaw: Well, if that’s the case, Falvey shouldn’t hire him.

Danny: My Asdrubal Cabrera cog diss is kicking in again. I know the numbers say he is no longer a good player, but every game he seems get a huge hit or make a great play. Please give me another dose of reality and remind me the numbers don’t match what my eyes are seeing.
Klaw: They don’t. UZR has him 18th of 24 shortstops this year, and a couple of guys below him aren’t really shortstops. Also, it has Elvis Andrus among the worst, which surprised me. UZR isn’t the be-all and end-all but it matches the eye test on Cabrera.

Michael: Coffee: black or with milk/cream?
Klaw: If it’s real coffee, black, no sweetener.

Ryan: If you got to ask one debate question for both candidates, what would you ask?
Klaw: Explain the difference between Keynesian economics and the monetarist school. Or something about climate change, but this year that would be a rout.

Ant: Reports indicate Austin Riley was catching up to fastballs much better in the second half. Still down on him?
Klaw: Yes. His bat speed hasn’t changed – that’s wishful thinking.

Randy: I’ve seen comps that have compared Alex Verdugo to Markakis, is that about right or do you have a different comp?
Klaw: I think he has more power than Markakis ever managed to show in the majors, although Markakis as a prospect projected to show more than he ever did.

Rob: I love Carcassonne, but haven’t tried any of the expansions. What are the best, and are any of them “essential” (IE, you wouldn’t want to play without them again)?
Klaw: Traders and Builders is pretty awesome.

Bill: In his post-game press conference, Brad Ausmus said that he was reticent about bringing Fulmer back after a 45-minute rain delay in a game in which he had already thrown 68 pitches in three innings. I’m thinking “insane” or possibly “foolhardy.” Any other descriptions come to mind?
Klaw: Didn’t he pull the same shit with Daniel Norris last September? A 50-something pitch first inning, right? Just fire him. This isn’t a solitary error in judgment. It’s a pattern of ignorance. (And hire Alex Cora to replace him!)

Anonymous: As an advocate, I’m curious for your thoughts. I’ve considered being screened for anxiety/depression with medication following, but am hesitant because I don’t like the idea that taking meds means I’m no longer “me”? Any advice?
Klaw: Been taking meds for anxiety for four years and I’m more “me” with them than I ever was without them. Prior to that – I take escitalopram, 20mg/day – the person you saw, met, even talked to online was dominated by the effects of the constant low hum of anxiety. Now I think more clearly, I’m more deliberate, I’m calmer, and everyone in my life has noticed.

Adam: Hi Keith! Thanks for everything you do. I enjoy reading your book reviews, and want to start reviewing the books I read as well to help me form my thoughts about them. I’m curious, did you write reviews for yourself before you had a platform? And do you take notes about books you read, or just compose the reviews on the fly?
Klaw: Never wrote for myself before, and I rarely take notes unless there’s a great quote I want to remember. Glad you enjoy them.

Anthony: Coffee: light, medium, or dark roast?
Klaw: Light. I’m a third-wave guy.

JT: What percentage of the claims against Clinton are legitimately true? Think that she’s on her death bed, she had detractors killed, she ordered a stand down in Benghazi, she ruined her husband’s accusers, she’s really a reptile level junk.
Klaw: Who can tell? I feel like the GOP would do better to focus on the actual policy questions, such as things she voted for in Congress that were mistakes – I would say the Patriot Act, but that’s probably not a good talking point for them – rather than this stuff or blaming her for her husband’s imbroglios.

JP: What if Keurig offered you $1 billion to endorse their K-cups? Does even Klaw’s dignity have a price?
Klaw: No shot. Bad coffee + environmental disaster.

JC: Is Goldschmitt the player you’ve missed out on by the widest margin in your career? BTW I think your track record is amazing.
Klaw: I think so. And if I could time-travel back to when he was in the minors, the one thing I would tell myself most on him is “just give him more of a chance.”

Ramanujan: Are bat speed and power correlated? I assume power comes from hitting a ball hard, which I assumed meant keeping the bat moving quickly (while keeping your hands and wrists rigid)…or does keeping the bat rigid as possible matter more for power (while moving the bat quickly is literally all that is necessary to have bat speed)? I’ve heard you mention a few times that people
Klaw: I don’t think that’s true. Power comes from hard contact and launch angle. Hard contact can come from strength too, especially wrist and forearm strength.

Adam: Any college pitchers in this draft with TOR potential?
Klaw: Wright and Faedo might.

Adam: Thoughts on the DBacks firing of De Jon Watson?
Klaw: I’d heard some anecdotal stuff about his time there that was unfavorable, but nothing to compare to the more concrete stories about TLR and Stewart screwing up the rules or mishandling their players. I think De Jon got scapegoated bigly.

Adam: At least two national writers believed the Padres should have been forced to send Anderson Espinoza back and received a lesser prospect from the Red Sox in light of the Preller fiasco. What are your thoughts?
Klaw: Can’t see how you can do that. You can only send the two teams back to the negotiating table, at which point Preller would have said “just send back Pomeranz.” It works better when the player with the injury issue is the prospect or one of the prospects, not the main target in the deal.

Jamie: I am sure you have heard of Harvard’s new policy on final clubs. What are your thoughts on the clubs themselves and the policy?
Klaw: They were extralegal when I was there; I don’t know if they still are. I wasn’t in one – it was largely rich kids or occasionally athletes, and I was and remain neither – and they were mostly invisible to me. (Fraternities are illegal at Harvard, for those who don’t know. For that I was fairly grateful.)

Adam: Baseball player most likely to kneel during the national anthem: Bryce Harper?
Klaw: Carlos Delgado wouldn’t stand for it in protest of the US Navy’s use of Vieques for bombing practice. It wasn’t that big of a deal at the time. Harper wouldn’t kneel, though – I think you’ve got his profile wrong.

Steve: Better 1B bat: Ronald Guzman or Rhys Hoskins?
Klaw: Hoskins. I am not sold on Hoskins’ real power, but Guzman I think has that.

Logan: What’s your opinion on Maikel Franco going forward? Is his low OBP due to lack of anything protecting him and trying to do too much?
Klaw: It’s his approach. What you offered are excuses. He’s never been a patient or disciplined hitter; he has great plate coverage, even out of zone, and is so damn strong he can do stuff with pitches other guys couldn’t hit fair. But he needs a significant improvement in his selectivity for his OBP to become acceptable.

Sgt Donnelly: Whose stock would you buy for the next 5 years: Buxton or Mazara? PS Thanks for sharing your baseball insight
Klaw: The offensive bar for Buxton to become an average big leaguer is so low because of his great defense & baserunning that I’d take him, easily. And I love Mazara.

Tracy: Have you read anything beyond The Hound of the Baskervilles? I’m asking because I’m eyeing an exquisite hardbound volume of Conan Doyle’s complete Sherlock Holmes works and I’m wondering if it’s worth it.
Klaw: A bunch of the short stories. They’re all great.

Nick: Thoughts on AJ Reed this year? IIRC you had some concerns about how his bat speed would play in the majors. Do you think that played a part in his high K rate, or was he maybe being too passive? Obviously he didn’t have too much of an opportunity to get acclimated with HOU fighting for a playoff spot this season.
Klaw: I think it was a factor, yes. Had he gotten more time in the majors, I think he would have made the same kind of adjustments he made in the minors, going the other way more with pitches he couldn’t get around on, which is why I rated him fairly highly despite concerns about the bat speed. For the reader who asked about Riley above, that’s the kind of player you hope he can become.

Aaron: I know it’s an extremely SSS, but less swing and miss so far from Renfroe. Encouraged?
Klaw: No, because it’s an extremely SSS.

Jeremy: It seems like you fit a ton of things you love to do into the same 24 hours I have, but I feel like I don’t do anything I enjoy. Any tips?
Klaw: I never want to assume too much about time, since some folks have to work two jobs or crazy hours just to pay the bills, but since you’re here I’ll guess that you have some flexibility. First thing I’d say is think about how you use your day and look for the time you’re not using well. I never sit in front of the TV unless it’s for something I really want to watch, for example. I used to do that, and then after a while I realized I was wasting part of every day and getting nothing out of it.

Elton: What are your thoughts on Peraza and Herrera for the Reds next year? Would the optimal result be Herrera at 2B (assuming they somehow liquidate Brandon Phillips) and Peraza as a roving backup/punch runner?
Klaw: I’d play Herrera at 2b and send Peraza back to AAA to play every day, preferably at SS. Peraza’s performance there this year was pretty mediocre and I wouldn’t be rushing him into a MLB job at ~23.

Brayden: Is JP Crawford still an elite prospect after a down year or is he over-hyped? Yes he was young for AAA but his gap power is non-existent.
Klaw: You’re scouting the stat line, and yes, he’s still an elite prospect, just very young for AAA as you said.

Nick: Speaking of players you were wrong about, do you still like the Jason Heyward contract?
Klaw: Yes, actually.

Rick: Why was Corey Seager passed on by 17 other teams? What was your report on him coming out of high school?
Klaw: He wasn’t “passed on” by other teams. He wanted well over slot, and had Boras, so some teams were afraid to take him and find he wouldn’t sign. This isn’t Trout again. Everyone knew that kid was special.

Chris: Great job as always in identifying who you were wrong about each year and owning up to that fact. You get it right a lot but it’s impossible to be perfect. Having said that, who are some players you missed on that you thought would be sure things at the major league level?
Klaw: Smoak is the one who’ll always bother me, because I never saw him do anything but hit, and pro scouts I talked to just raved about him up until he was traded to Seattle at the least. I thought Wieters would be a much better hitter too, while I’m at it. Lot of pitchers I liked were derailed by injuries – I had Zach Britton as a potential #2 starter.

Klaw: That’s all for this week; thank you as always for all of your questions. I’ll be back next Thursday if I’m not crushed by a hurricane.

TV (The Book).

I’ve never met Alan Sepinwall but I certainly feel like I know him, having read his TV recaps and reviews for years now and watched many of his “Ask Alan” videos, so I thought I had a pretty good idea of what would be in his TV (The Book): Two Experts Pick the Greatest American Shows of All Time, which he wrote with fellow critic Matt Zoller Seitz. I was right in that I had a sense of what shows would come in for particular praise in their ranking of the medium’s 100 greatest shows, but I think I underestimated the depth this book provides on so many titles, with tremendous essays on shows’ merits, flaws, influence, and cultural legacy. It’s so good that I could even get caught up in summaries of shows I’d never heard of before – a Novel 100 for scripted, fictional TV programs.

SepinSeitz set some ground rules down before delving into their list, and I’ll repeat them here because, as you know, no one ever reads the intro (or, in this case, The Explanation). The list is limited to U.S. shows only – so no Fawlty Towers or Upstairs, Downstairs – and to narrative fiction, eliminating anything like sketch comedy. They eliminated most shows that are still airing, with a few exceptions for shows with large bodies of work already in the can, and included shows that only aired for one season but penalized them in their scoring system. That system weighs a lot of critical considerations like influence, innovation, and consistency along with what you might consider the show’s contemporary entertainment value. It works in the end, however, as the list they’ve produced is going to start a lot of arguments but at least puts all of these shows in the right buckets to get those debates going.

Since I watch very little TV now, I’m totally unqualified to question anything these guys wrote about shows from the last 15 years or so; I’ve got a few disagreements with shows from earlier in TV history, but by and large I read this book as someone just generally interested in what I missed that was worth seeing. My favorite U.S. show of all time, The Wire, makes their top 5, and several other favorites of mine, including Arrested Development, Parks and Recreation, and Homicide: Life on the Street, all appear in their top 50. They break the list down into chunks – the top ten are “The Inner Circle,” the next forty are “No-Doubt-About-It Classics,” followed by twenty-five “Groundbreakers and Workhorses” and twenty-five “Outlier Classics” – that provide some structure to the list, although I didn’t think the labels were necessary given the depth of the essays on each program. Sure, Police Squad! was a groundbreaker, and Law & Order was a workhorse, but the review for each makes that clear. (SepinSeitz’ ranking of all seventeen L&O cast combinations is a highlight of the book, although I think I disagree with them on “Invaders,” the episode where Borgia is killed, one of the most harrowing of the series.)

Some other scattered observations on the essays and rankings:

• The essay on The Cosby Show is one of the book’s absolute highlights; the authors co-wrote it (many are credited to AS or MZS specifically), and cover everything, including the sheer impossibility of watching the show today given what we know now about the star. It was, however, a cultural milestone in its era, a highly-rated, critically-acclaimed show that anchored NBC’s Thursday night programming for years, and put an African-American family into TV territory that previously had been reserved for white characters. We’d seen upper-middle-class white families on TV that encountered modern problems, but if there were characters of color, they were the neighbors, or one of the kids’ best friends, never at the center of the show. For adults of a certain age today, The Cosby Show contributed to our understanding that there shouldn’t be any differences between families just because of skin color. Unfortunately, Bill Cosby the rapist has destroyed his legacy as a comedian and a silently progressive TV star, and the authors don’t shy away from that problem.

• My one disagreement with the authors here – and with Michael Schur, who knows a thing or two about sitcoms – is the placement of Cheers in their top five. I did watch Cheers pretty regularly for the first half of its run, and somewhere post-Diane, the show turned into a shell of itself, replete with repetitive one-liners, overreliant on lowbrow humor, populated with characters who became parodies of their former selves. (Friends did the same thing after the ‘big’ Ross and Rachel breakup, turning Ross from slightly nerdy but socially functional to awkwardly, annoyingly nerdy and “how is he even friends with these other people?”) I found the show’s last few years cringeworthy enough that I gradually stopped watching, and only returned for the finale and the cast’s drunken appearance on The Tonight Show. They never recaptured what made them a hit – few comedies can sustain anything that long anyway, but I couldn’t put Cheers in the Inner Circle given what it became.

• I was thrilled to see the one Miami Vice episode I remember clearly from when it first aired, “Out Where the Buses Don’t Run,” earn a mention in that show’s writeup. It was stylish, ’80s noir, and I have often felt like I’ve seen its influence pop up in other, lesser cop shows since. (Including, weirdly enough, a Diagnosis Murder episode with Perry King.)

• Shows I was thrilled to see ranked and to earn writeups: Police Squad!, WKRP in Cincinnati, NewsRadio, Moonlighting, Firefly.

• Shows I either didn’t know, or knew but hadn’t considered watching, but will add to my list of shows I would like to watch but might never get to: In Treatment, Terriers, K Street. I’d add Frank’s Place, but it seems unlikely to ever appear due to music licensing issues.

SepinSeitz don’t stop after ranking 100 shows, however, with multiple sections after that to keep you reading and well-informed on the state of TV. There’s a long section of shows currently airing that they recommend and cite as possible entrants to a future re-ranking of the top 100 (or they could do what Daniel Burt did when he updated The Novel 100, extending the ranking to 125 titles). There’s “A Certain Regard,” citing shows that had one great season (Homeland) or did something particularly notable (Little House on the Prairie). They also rank mini-series, which ends up an amusing mixture of big-budget network event programming from the late 1970s (Roots, of course, is #1) and 1980s with HBO mini-series from the current era, and TV movies and even TV airings of plays, the latter two lists by Zoller Seitz.

I could absolutely see someone using TV (The Book) as a viewing guide – maybe not starting at 1 and working your way down, but certainly picking and choosing shows to binge-watch from their rankings and breakdowns. I doubt I’ll ever have that kind of time, but as someone who likes great television and loathes the rest, I just loved the ebullient writing, the joyful praise of shows that entertained and sometimes astounded these two guys who can’t seem to get enough TV.

Next up: I’m slogging through The Collected Stories of Jean Stafford, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1970.

Stick to baseball, 9/24/16.

I named Houston’s Alex Bregman as our 2016 Prospect of the Year, and listed a bunch of other worthy candidates and the 2016 draftees who had the top debuts as well, all for Insiders. I also held a Klawchat on Thursday.

My latest boardgame review for Paste covers the cute, fast-playing game New Bedford, where players build the town and send ships out on whaling expeditions to rack up points. I really loved everything about that game – it looks great, the play is simple, Within that review is a paragraph on its two-player spinoff, Nantucket.

You can pre-order my book, Smart Baseball, on amazon already; it’s due out in April. Also, sign up for my email newsletter to stay up to date on all the stuff I write in various places.

And now, the links…

Way Station.

Clifford Simak’s Way Station was an early Hugo winner, a mixture of the soft science fiction with some more technical details than most of its contemporaries would include, but still focusing primarily on the core story and grand themes of cultural and racial understanding. It probably felt more progressive at the time that Simak published it, and today appears a product of its era (published in 1963) even if some of its themes of tolerance are timeless.

Way Station‘s protagonist is Enoch Wallace, a Civil War veteran who now operates an interstellar way station in the backwoods of Wisconsin, where alien races from across the galaxy pass through en route to other destinations outside of our solar system. Wallace is the only human aware of these other races’ existence, and he does not age while he’s inside the station, so he’s well over 100 years old at the time of the story even though he appears to be about 30. While this has elicited some gossip from his few neighbors, he’s reclusive and far enough away from any kind of town that he’s been able to exist merely on the fringes of civilization, instead spending much of his time reading science journals and occasionally communing with some of the aliens who pass through his station.

That alone would likely have made for a solid novel, a sort of slice of galactic life where Wallace meets a cast of eccentrics and tells a few tall tales to keep the neighbors from denouncing him as some spawn of Satan and burning down his house. (As it turns out, they couldn’t do so if they tried.) Simak instead creates a pair of crises – one from the human world, one from the alien – while also exploring what Wallace has had to give up to take on this life and responsibility, including the entirely fictional friends he’s created using a software tool given him by one of the travelers. (Apparently, when passing through an interstellar way station, it’s polite to bring a gift.) The world is teetering on the brink of catastrophic war in this novel as it was in Simak’s life, while the treaty that holds the galaxy’s various races in peaceful coexistence is also on the verge of breaking down, and one reason is something that happened on earth that Wallace finds himself forced to try to fix.

The narrative jumps around a bit, especially early in the book, which made it a slow title to grab my attention; it starts with a government agent, presumably CIA, who’s caught wind of Wallace’s strange existence and wants to investigate it further, whatever it might mean. Simak then shifts perspective to Wallace’s present and some of his past, mixing accounts of his quotidian duties as station manager with flashbacks to how he got the gig in the first place. These threads come together by mid-book as Simak crafts the twin-crisis plot that drives the finish – with one of the most obvious plot twists you’ll ever see – which ties up all of the various strands with a bit more hope for the future of our species than I can usually muster.

I think Simak was going for some pretty grand themes here, from racial tolerance to man’s alienation from the world, but gets a little sidetracked by some of the details, including the imaginary friends Wallace cooks up with the help of one of the gifts he’s received. The strongest part wasn’t the big stuff, but Wallace’s friendship with Ulysses, the alien who first appeared to Wallace and offered him the post as station master, a bridging of an impossible gap made possible through small gestures and handfuls of words. I found that kind of hope, that any two individuals can find some common ground or kinship, much easier to believe.

Next up: I’m nearly through Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz’s TV: The Book, where they incorrectly rank the top 100 shows in TV history.

Klawchat, 9/22/16.

You can pre-order my book, Smart Baseball on amazon already; it’s due out in April. Also, sign up for my email newsletter to stay up to date on all the stuff I write in various places.

Klaw: What do we have for entertainment? Klawchat.

Chris: Terry Collins brought in Smoker for Reed in 8th last night to face Freeman. He rationalized it postgame saying that Freeman is 2-4 career off Reed. Also, Smoker did induce weak contact. That said, when a manager quotes a SSS of 4 ABs to back up a decision, shouldn’t he immediately be fired? The game has passed him by.
Klaw: I saw a lot of howling about the decision last night when it happened, but I don’t have any problem with bringing in a lefty to face Freeman. That part is fine. The logic afterwards, well, it’s a stretch to call it logic because only a fucking idiot thinks four at bats is a meaningful sample.

Chris: Can Conforto play RF long-term? I think CF is a definitely “Hell No” and 1B is also pretty much off the table, but knowing Cespedes will probably only want to play LF, it seems RF would the one spot to get Conforto in lineup regularly.
Klaw: I think he can play right or left, but agree CF is a no go.

BB: It was a while ago this guy was a prospect, but do you have any thoughts about Mike Montgomery re-joining the Cubs/an MLB rotation moving forward? Or do you think he’s better suited as a BP arm?
Klaw: Never had the command or breaking ball to last as a starter. Certainly had plenty of opportunities.

Jake: What’s the ceiling for Jharel Cotton? Middle of the rotation guy?
Klaw: Probably less. I guess if you’re talking top 5% type of outcome, then okay, I’ll say middle of the rotation guy, but it’s not likely.

Father Tim: My son is 5 months old now and we’ve started to introduce some solids mixed with breast milk. Did you make your own baby food or use “safe” store bought brands like Nature’s Choice?
Klaw: Never made our own. Great idea. Too much work.

Ceej: Some think Moncada will play a ton next year because Shaw and company aren’t that good and others think he’ll spend most of the year in the minors. Which side are you on?
Klaw: Minors. Swing and miss is a legit issue here.

bobby: It’s barely possible that Gary Sanchez won’t be the best catcher in the history of the game. If that is the case, what do you foresee for him? Annual All Star? Occasional All Star? Solid performer? Kevin Maas? Thanks for the great work…
Klaw: The Kevin Maas comps are unfair (I know you’re not making one) because Sanchez has been better AND has actual value beyond the power AND there was a little more cause for optimism on Sanchez coming out of the minors. I think he’s a frequent All-Star, and could have an MVP type season or two, because he’s a catcher who will probably hit like a good first baseman.

bobby: The Yankees did a good job of rebuilding their farm system with some impact trades at the deadline. Clearly they need pitching to compete. If you were Cashman, would you deal from your prospects for a frontline starter, sign a Rich Hill, or wait a year and hope a Sheffield or Kaprielian works out and if not sign someone after 2017? Thanks, as always, for your great work.
Klaw: Probably would wait a year and see how some of the arms in the system fare next year, since several were hurt all or part of this year.

buck farmer: who would you pick for AL Cy Young?
Klaw: Kluber or Sale.

Jeff: Have you met Vin Scully? Any good stories?
Klaw: Once. He was a delight. Every bit as nice as he appears to be.

Anthony: I expect you to be flooded with this question. But what the are chances Sanchez can win RoY?
Klaw: I think pretty good, because he’s one of the 2-3 best candidates on performance and has a strong narrative behind him. Plus voters can be like sheep – one guy floats some stupid idea, like Cespedes for NL MVP last year, and next thing you know a lot of voters are baaaing along with it. Also it helps Sanchez that there’s a historical bias against pitchers winning ROY and the next-best candidate, Fulmer, is a pitcher.

Bradley: As someone who teaches high school Econ in a district that requires it for graduation, I appreciate your support of more kids taking the class. Would you be on board with all states requiring at least an intro class to graduate?
Klaw: Absolutely. I think it’s more essential than art or music, which I had to take in HS as well, or shop classes, which I had to take in junior high.

Fuzzy Dunlop: I’m already planning on getting the v60 pourover that you recommended the other day. What about a good grinder? I don’t like the one I have now, can you recommend one?
Klaw: I have a Baratza Virtuoso. It was recommended by my friend at Intelligentsia and it’s been great, as was the customer service when the first one I got proved defective.

Mike K: Any thoughts on Tommy Joseph? Is he a viable starter at first base moving forward?
Klaw: I don’t think so, but I don’t have a problem with them giving him half a season there to start 2017 and see while Hoskins goes to AAA.

Jeff: This is a bit of an odd question where your answers will probably more of an educated guess than it is a concrete answer, but you seem like the guy to ask it to! When you look at some of the MLBs official rules, rookie eligibility being a good example, why is it that at bats is the benchmark for determining status and not plate appearances? As a whole, it just seems like the MLB, at least in an official capacity, highly favors using it over plate appearances. I’ve always been a bit befuddled by that.
Klaw: PA matter for batting average title determination. It’s probably a function of convenience – at bats are listed everywhere, PA are not.

Dan: Adam Frazier appears to have an excellent hit tool, but with zero power. Any chance he can stick at an everyday player or is his ceiling a solid utility guy, if that?
Klaw: Utility guy for me.

Darren: Teabow hit an instructional league batting practice home run! I can’t wait to hear his speech at Cooperstown.
Klaw: Better get me a bucket, I’m gonna throw up.

Brett: Jason McCleod seems like the perfect candidate for the Twins job. Do you think he’s as interested as they are?
Klaw: He interviewed, so I can only assume so. I’ve touted him a bit here and on ESPN over the last few years because I think he blends scouting, player development, and analytical understanding in a way that would allow him to run a modern organization. Hiring strictly analytics guys to be GMs isn’t any better than hiring strictly scouting types, or than hiring a mediocre agent who’s never held a meaningful front office job in his life to be GM.

Clay: Do you think the Twins need to reset the rebuilding process after they hire a new GM, or are the pieces there that they could trade for some pitching?
Klaw: I think they need to focus on developing pitching for a change, and finding out why some decent pitching prospects they’ve had in the minors haven’t worked out as starters.

Dana: What’s Michael Pineda’s deal? Obviously, he has swing and miss stuff, yet the results are lacking.
Klaw: I think it’s a fairly hittable fastball when he misses his spots, which is often.

Reeve: Would Hunter Greene be your choice for #1 pick as of right now? What are some other names with #1 potential?
Klaw: No, he wouldn’t be 1 over Jeren Kendall. Kyle Wright is a possibility for 1, as is Alex Faedo. I think our top 30 is due to go up next week?

Rube Waddell: Does Trea Turner’s production fall off next year or can he keep up his all star level of performance?
Klaw: There’s no way he maintains this level of production. He’d be Honus Wagner if he did.

Missing Macphail: Keith, what do you do if you are Baltimore? You have three-fifths of a rotation and a solid bullpen, an offense built around inconsistent power with poor OBP and little speed, two very good players in Schoop and Machado, a great manager but a farm system that’s been gutted by short sighted trades? Weiters and Trumbo are probably gone after the season as well. Would it be better to blow it up and start over? I’m not sure how you could do so when the only parts other teams would want are the players you would like to build around. What’s your take?
Klaw: I don’t think Buck would have any patience for a rebuild, and what Buck says goes, so that’s the end of that conversation. I think the situation’s worse than you say – they have 2/5 of a rotation and whatever becomes of Bundy, who hasn’t been very good since they stretched him out and is a shell of what he was in high school. So they have to find two more starters on the market unless they can salvage something from Gallardo or Ubaldo, and they don’t have a ton to trade from full-season ball. It’s a serious challenge in and of itself, made worse by the constraints of the organization.

Jack: Is Franklyn Kilome a potential number 2? or backend?
Klaw: As with Cotton, if you’re talking absolute best-case scenario, #2 is reasonable. If you’re talking realistic ceiling, then it’s lower than that, with high probability that he’s a very good reliever.

Rube Waddell: Marcus Semien — Can he get better on both sides of the ball in 2017?
Klaw: No. I think this is it. I’m even surprised he’s gotten to this point.

Gordon Lightfoot: In 200 plate appearances since the beginning of August, McCutchen has put up a line of .288/.388/.494. Is it safe to say that the Cutch we saw pre trade deadline was driven more by things like health and not as much natural decline?
Klaw: It’s a small sample there, but I have said all year I thought it was health more than age. He’s a little young to be in that kind of age-related decline already.

Daniel: What can you tell us about Shohei Otani? Where/when will he play in mlb?
Klaw: He’s a pitcher, no matter what HR highlights you saw. I don’t think there’s any debate over this. As for when, I bet he comes over after 2017.

Mike: I know you were down on Yulieski Gurriel based on seeing him years ago. Granted it’s a sss but from what you’ve seen so far are you surprised by his performance?
Klaw: Remember that when I saw him he was also out of shape. It’s not fair to judge him on that look and that’s why I never really put it out there when the Astros signed him.

Mike: You can bash Jill Stein on Twitter all you want, but I find both Trump and Clinton to be deplorable with absolutely no honor and integrity. As a result, I will not cast my vote for either of them despite the fact I’ve always voted Democrat. Now, here’s a question for you – why should I vote Democrat after the DNC leak proved beyond a reason of doubt that the DNC leadership did everything it could to help Clinton win the primary and even aggressively targeted Sanders in a negative way? Why should I bow down to the establishment that cheated and proved it didn’t care what the voters actually wanted?
Klaw: Because this is a binary election. If you don’t vote for Clinton, you are effectively voting for Trump. You can convince yourself otherwise all you want, but if you wake up on November 9th and the President-elect is a dog-whistling white supremacist, then it’s on you and every other potential Clinton voter who decided this was the year to hold your breath until you get what you want.

Jaysfan: Donaldson has to be injured, if you had that information would you share it?
Klaw: He had an MRI on his hip a week ago. That’s not secret.

Casey: What is the ceiling for Magneuris Sierra? I assume with the lack of power he has to be able to stay in center in order to be an average regular?
Klaw: Yes but everything I’ve heard says he stays in CF.

Rick: Keith, In addition to the great work you do on baseball, I really like the insight you provide on other important issues. I have no question for you, just a thank you.
Klaw: You’re welcome, and thank you for reading them. I don’t pretend to have lots of answers but I do like to talk about these issues as part of the learning process.

Joe D: Keith, how can the public have faith in scientific studies when articles like the one you linked to last week show that results can be bought? On the advice of a former statistics professor, when I hear or read that a study was performed I always try to find out who paid for it.
Klaw: Those results were bought in 1965. The level of scrutiny today is much higher, and the opportunities for other researchers to replicate (or fail to replicate) results are greater.

Avi: Taillon has looked a little shaky recently. I sort of sense it might be fatigue for a guy who’s thrown 150+ innings that had not pitched since 2013. Thoughts? If the Pirates weren’t hanging on to WC hopes by a thread I would prefer to have him shutdown.
Klaw: I think that’s a reasonable position on all fronts. I don’t know if he’s feeling fatigue, but that’s a lot of innings for a guy who as you said basically missed two years.

Oren: Gregory Polanco has struggled a bit with breaking stuff this year and its clearly one of the last adjustments he needs to make. How confident do you feel that he can make those adjustments? He’s always struck me as a guy who takes a little longer than most to make them, but he gets there.
Klaw: I think that’s very fair. I believe he can make those adjustments because 1) he’s never been a hacker or somehow hopeless on offspeed stuff and 2) as you’ve said we’ve seen him make other adjustments before. The guys who scare me are the ones who’ve never hit breaking stuff at any level, or the ones who just don’t make adjustments well. I’ve never been a Grichuk guy because he’s struggled with breaking stuff since high school.

William Bradley: Can Hunter Renfroe hold down a MLB job next year, or was he simply out-performing this year in a hitter friendly league as an older player? Also, what are your projections next year for Tommy Joseph?
Klaw: Very hitter-friendly league and poor K/BB rates too, for a guy who already had swing and miss concerns and doesn’t recognize breaking stuff that well either.

Tim: I keep hearing that baseball needs to appeal to a younger audience. Do you buy this? I’ll be honest: the argument seems fallacious on its face, so I’ve never bothered to read further. Am I making a grave error?
Klaw: No, I don’t buy it.

Rob: You were a little hard on the Reds for the return they got for Todd Frazier but that Schebler and Peraza boy turned out to have nice seasons and are young. Have your thoughts evolved at all on that trade?
Klaw: No, it remains a huge loss of value for them. Schebler’s been replacement level for them, and he’s 25. Peraza didn’t hit well in AAA, hasn’t walked or shown any power in the majors, but at least the Reds have given him some reps at shortstop which would give him a substantial boost to his value. Still they could have done so much better for Frazier than they did.

Pete: Jordan Luplow and Connor Joe had solid 2nd halves in the FSL. Do you see either as future major leaguers?
Klaw: Not of any consequence, although I expect both to get to the majors.

sam: Hey, Keith… since you’ve stated in the past that your concept of the rookie-of-the-year vote is to vote for whom you thought would have the best career (I remember when you thought Matusz was the best choice one year), would you vote for Sanchez or Fullmer this year?
Klaw: That’s overstating it a bit – I think that this should be a factor, since we’re typically looking at very unequal opportunities (playing time) when comparing ROY candidates. If I had a vote today, I’d probably give it to Sanchez, although Fulmer is worthy and if you wanted to put him first I wouldn’t disagree.

JC: I’ve been concerned all year about the way the Braves have used Aaron Blair. He has been up and and down 4 times and pitched poorly until his last ML start. Should the way the Braves have used him have long term effects?
Klaw: His fastball’s been off a bit and given that I was hoping he’d get a stint in relief to get some confidence back and also maybe let him regain some strength.

Bob: Good afternoon, Keith. I have read up on how WAR is calculated but one thing escapes me. Are park effects factored in? If not, then is that something that the evaluator has to do to interpret the data?
Klaw: Yes, all versions of WAR I know, including the ones teams use internally, include a park adjustment.

Morris: On Twitter I notice you frequently get labeled as a liberal. But when you tear Jill Stein a new one or defend Ronald Reagan’s presidency or rip some naturopaths on vaccine science I don’t see complaints about how conservative you are. I guess that’s not a question.
Klaw: People who call me or anyone else a “liberal” as a sort of insult don’t seem to know what the word means. I am more of a classical liberal than a modern liberal, but you’re not going to see that distinction on social media.

Casey: What is the best way to cook asparagus without having a grill?
Klaw: Roast at 500 degrees about ten minutes. Just toss with a little olive oil and salt beforehand.

Carly Simon: Tebow, Tebow, Tebow… seriously though…. I keep reading Tebow would have been a “high” pick coming out of HS yet I don’t recall ever hearing his name pre-draft. Do you have any recollection/opinion of his status as a 17-18 year old player? Is this just more Tebow hype or was he a legit “top 10 round” HS prospect?
Klaw: You don’t recall that because this is utter bullshit, and you should call out any reporter who claims it. He didn’t even play his senior year of HS.

Justin: Your obligatory, stick to baseball question. As an economist, what do you think we should do with interest rates?
Klaw: I wish I had even a reasonable answer to that (and I’m not an economist).

JC: First, second, short ,LF and CF seem set for the Braves. What positions would you focus on improving during the offseason?
Klaw: They need power bats, somewhere.

J: Totally agree with Sabbath as top 5 most important/influential band of all time. Other 4? I’m thinking Stooges, Velvet Underground, Ramones. Beatles. Not best of course but influential
Klaw: Clash would be one of my five, along with the Beatles, of course. I feel like Zeppelin, even though they’re not that critically adored, influenced two generations of rock musicians. This is one question where popularity may matter more than artistic merit (and I like Zeppelin quite a bit). So VU may get the critical nod, but they were and are far enough outside the mainstream that I’d probably exclude them.

BB: Cubs are still short on upper level minors SP’ing. Trevor Clifton had a nice year in high-A. He someone that has MOR kind of potential?
Klaw: Yep, he’s taken a nice step forward. There’s pitching in their system but not top-end pitching.

Frank: What would Atlanta have to surrender from the farm to acquire Chris Archer?
Klaw: Why would they want to do that? Pitching they’ve got.

Andy: You have NL ROY right? Do you wish that you could vote in an award that’s likely to be closer? Or is it just an honor to vote?
Klaw: Yes, and yes it would be nice to have a tougher decision – I think 1-2 are pretty obvious – but it is an honor and a responsibility to vote, and I will not complain about it.

Ian: Allard looked great this year after he came back from the back injury/rehab. Assuming the back issues are behind him, is he the best pitching prospect in the Braves system and most likely to reach their ceiling? Think he starts at A+ next year, or repeat at Rome? Really excited to watch the progress of that rotation at Rome. Thanks!
Klaw: I had him as their top pitching prospect prior to the season, I think, and I’d stick with that. I wish he was more physical, but he’s loose and athletic and I think he’ll be fine even without the size.

Tom: Do you think Patrick Corbin’s struggles this year (although he’s done better in the bullpen recently) stem from his recovery from TJ surgery? Do you think he’s a good candidate for a rebound next season after he’s fully healthy?
Klaw: Remember when I suggested last December that they put Corbin in the bullpen for part of 2016, and got pilloried for it? Or how TweedleDave said they were expecting a full season out of Corbin as a starter this year? That all worked out well. And by the way, yes, I am expecting/hoping for a rebound; he’s very athletic and had two legit weapons when healthy.

Pat D: Nice to see you, Mr. Creosote. Where would you start Rutherford next season? I think it has to be Charleston, but is that possibly pushing it?
Klaw: Charleston. He’ll turn 20 in May, so he has to start in low-A IMO. The goal should be Trenton by end of 2018. I think he’s got enough hit tool right now to do it.

JR: Do you think Gsellman and Lugo are legitimate MLB SPs going forward, or are they both having nice SSS stretches against mostly weaker competition? If so, would the Mets be smart to look to sell high this offseason and look to trade either or both?
Klaw: Gsellman yes, Lugo I don’t think so, but I wouldn’t try to sell either. That is their starting pitching depth right there. Without those guys they would have been screwed this year.

Evan: What do you make of Eric Hosmer’s consistently terrible defensive metrics? Is this due to poor positioning or a lack of ability? Are we getting to the point where he should DH?
Klaw: I think defensive metrics do a poor job with 1b because they measure range but not the receiving aspects of the job.

Jon: Even though it’s a meaningless feat, do you think if Trout reaches 30-30 HR/SB, that helps his MVP case?
Klaw: I think voters baaaa have already decided that they’re not baaaaa voting for him baaacause he’s on a losing team.

Bill: Matt Boyd reportedly changed his arm angle during the middle part of the season and has pitched extremely well since his return, with increased velocity and a higher strikeout rate. Can such an adjustment really have that kind of immediate effect?
Klaw: Yes. Arm angle/slot shifts are dangerous (I think) but the effect can be pretty dramatic for fastball life, breaking ball tilt, or just plain deception.

Nick: TJ Rivera has hit everywhere he has played, including his recent time with the Mets. I know he is already 27 so he isn’t exactly a kid, but what do you think his ultimate ceiling is as a MLBer?
Klaw: Up and down guy. He’s hit everywhere but he’s been old for everywhere too.

Spx: Not to derail the chat to vax stuff, but is it possible some truth in not ALL vaccines are always safe? Could be possible for one recent, limited tested vac out of the 200 causing problems?
Klaw: When there was the slightest hint that the first rotavirus vaccine caused bowel obstructions, it was yanked from the market immediately, even though the number of actual cases was minuscule. So, yes, it’s possible there could be a minor issue with a vaccine, but it would be evident immediately. There aren’t larger problems because vaccination itself is safe; your child will get more pathogens from a few hours at school or day care than from all the weakened or dead-virus vaccines s/he will get in his/her lifetime.

Linus: How much do you think Statcast and other “on the field” measurements revolutionized front offices? How much time will it take to change fans’ perspective of the game?
Klaw: I’m writing about this now for my book, and yes, it’s changing things very rapidly within the industry, but the gap between what they know and what we know is increasing as a result.

Michael: Hi Klaw- Thanks as always for the chats. You remain the sole reason for me being an ESPN Insider. I became a huge fan of Ticket to ride and Carcassonne in large part due to your reviews. However I have had the Le Havre app on my iPad for months and been unable to get over the hump of what seems like overly complicated game play. Any suggestions on an easy way to learn to play?
Klaw: That’s because it is complicated; I traded my copy of the physical game away because we hadn’t played it in years. It takes too long to set up and gameplay is very involved, even compared to Agricola. But if you’ve played Agricola at all, then Le Havre becomse a little more straightforward.

ritchie vanian: Keith- It appears you are no fan of Terry Collins, but can you give him credit for keeping such an injured team in contention? Only one starter has not been on the DL this year, and his best pitcher has been the 975 year old Big Sexy.
Klaw: Why is that to Collins’ credit, though? What has he done specifically to make the team play better? Is it tactical? Motivational? (I doubt this exists, but you could at least make the argument.) Something else?

Brett: I think the Rabbit books by Updike are great (they get better with time). I know you find the main character to be an ass, but isn’t that kinda the point?
Klaw: It is the point. I just don’t like that kind of novel.

Bevan: If Manuel Margot doesn’t start in CF for the Padres tonight, I’m going to lose my mind.
Klaw: Understandable.

Mike: What’s your fave boardgame to play with a 7 y.o? Ludo is crushing my soul.
Klaw: We have played regular games with my daughter since at least that age. Ticket to Ride is a great starter game, because everything is colors and arithmetic.

Bob: Speaking of Grichuk reminds me of other similar players like Trumbo. Not making outs is the #1 goal of a hitter but power has value too. What does a team do with low-OBP, high-SLG guys like that? Only use them to pinch-hit? Have no more than one or two on a team and bat them sixth or seventh? Frustrate yourself trying to teach them how to take a walk?
Klaw: The problem I see with those guys is that it takes a tiny bit of lost luck or lost power (or the wrong ballpark) to make them one-win players or worse. You’re relying entirely on a skill that is still a bit volatile.

Andy: Baseball does need to work on appealing to a younger audience. They need to do that by making it much more cost and time effective to play baseball as a kid. My 6 year old doesn’t need 6 hours of practice a week. 8 year olds (and their families) could use a weekend off instead of traveling all over the area playing. That’s how you appeal to a younger audience, having every kid be able to play as long as they have the talent to.
Klaw: That’s all fair and reasonable. I also have told many parents that their kid doesn’t need to play year-round, and that travel teams aren’t often worth the money. But I worry about kids for whom the expense of a glove and a bat is too much; basketball has a much lower cost of entry, requires fewer kids, and only requires a hoop. Making baseball more accessible to every kid would be a better use of marketing dollars than … well, I take it back. It would be a more noble use. It might not be a better ROI.

Kenny: I’ve always liked that you will admit when wrong. The O’s clearly have holes, but have contended for four straight years. What is allowing them to do that despite their flaws? It can’t be SSS anymore.
Klaw: Good bullpens, very good tactical manager, some luck here and there with guys having career years. I don’t think Britton should be a CY candidate but he’s having an outstanding year, and he was an outstanding prospect for whom the Orioles found a role even when he didn’t work out as a starter.

Brett: We know you live in DE, but where would you live if you had no obligations (yes, I realize that’s a poor way to describe a family and job)
Klaw: Italy.

Lee: Can we quit with the false equivalence between Clinton and Trump? I’m tired of people suggesting that they can’t vote for Clinton because they are both equally awful candidates. Trump is an actual threat to our country like we’ve never seen. Clinton just seems like more of the same which in comparison seem pretty OK with me for the time being.
Klaw: This is more or less how I see it. I do think HRC has real policy proposals that we can debate, some of which I like and some of which I don’t. Drumpf doesn’t even have that.

Ryan: Do you project Gonsalves as a #2 in the majors?
Klaw: Not without an average breaking ball.

Nathan: Does America have any hope of survival if Clown Hitler wins the presidency and the GOP retains control of the House and Senate?
Klaw: It’s a terrifying possibility. Hence, Italy.

Marques: I’m biracial. We can talk about bias all we want in the minority community and people lake us add giving excuses instead of explaining a reality. So, when a white guy with credibility says implicit bias is real, it helps mentally if nothing else. How can we improve if we don’t acknowledge the obvious? Thank you for your empathy.
Klaw: You’re welcome. To be honest, I feel like the worst white guy to talk about this stuff. I grew up in as white an area as you could possibly find in the country. My wife (we graduated from HS together) and I think we had fewer than 5 African-American students in our graduating class of about 375, maybe a dozen Asian-American students, and I don’t think we had anyone who would have specifically identified at the time as anything else. I’ve seen racism elsewhere, later in life, including in my time in baseball, but I’ve only been a passive observer and I didn’t even grow up with that around me. The worst bias I saw growing up was the casual anti-Semitism of the Catholic suburbs.

Spx: So basically you are ripping Jill Stein because Trump has lose, correct?
Klaw: No, I’ve ripped her for pandering to the tin-foil hat conspiracy theory nuts.

Brett: Did you collect baseball cards as a kid? I suspect I’m about your age, and I wonder if some of us “investing” in cards 1986-89 has driven the interest in stats
Klaw: Yep, tons. Probably still have them somewhere.

Steve: Where do you see Mitch Keller in terms of prospect ranking after his breakout year?
Klaw: He’s a top 50 prospect, but I hesitate to get more specific until I do some real work on that list.

Gregg: Any advice for someone who hates the idea of everything about cooking (time, cleanup, prep, etc.), but also sees the importance and possible enjoyments of it?
Klaw: Do things that require less of what you hate. Grilling minimizes cleanup. One-pot dishes do the same. Slow cookers are great for cooking multiple nights of food in one shot. I don’t cook a full meal every night every week; I often cook enough meat in one shot to cover three dinners for the family and then build meals around whatever else we’re eating, typically the vegetable dish.

Henry: Keith, your book seems to be tailored for novices attempting to understand the overrated statistics of the game. (Yeah, I’m kind of judging it from its title). Can you share if your current readers will get something out of it. P.S. Amazon is listing it as a #1 new release in Business Facility Management, whatever that is.
Klaw: I hope current readers will enjoy it, and there will be a section at the end (mentioned above) on Statcast and the future of the game, but there will be parts where you’re thinking, yep, I know saves are stupid. There is, however, nothing in the book on facility management. That’ll be the sequel.

Tom: Heh, how can you talk about influence and not mention Pink Floyd, shine on you crazy diamond.
Klaw: I love Pink Floyd but I don’t think they’re that influential. What bands or subgenres really derive from their work?

Chris: Has Max Fried gotten back to the level you expected after missing so much time, or does staying in the Sally League hurt his case?
Klaw: He’s back, and I don’t worry quite so much about age relative to level for pitchers as I do for hitters. With pitchers, results do matter, but stuff and projection matter too.

Ron: Are you going to watch Pitch? The reviews, including Sepinwall, have been outstanding at least for the pilot.
Klaw: I am not.

Rob: Do you manage to get in a lot of board game time during the season, or is that mostly an offseason hobby?
Klaw: My wife and I play something 3-4 nights a week, and we play something with our daughter maybe 2-3 afternoons a week. I’m pretty adamant about getting that quality time in with the family when I’m not traveling or at a local game. I was home more this summer due to the book and a family matter, so I’ve played more games this year.

Susan: What watch do you wear? I realize it’s a silly question, but still curious if you care?
Klaw: I haven’t worn a wristwatch in more than ten years.

Chris: I’m with you, I see no reason for the Yanks to undo the restocking of the system by trading it all for Sale or something. Rather see them consolidate for a year (in fact I’d like to see them keep going and trading Gardner, McCann, and selling high on Castro’s superficial numbers), but I’m worried the powers that be (not Cash) will get antsy and worry about empty luxury seats w/o “name” stars on the field.
Klaw: They’re going to be decent and very fun to watch next year, and I think Sanchez might already be enough of a name guy to help draw fans.

Amy: I’m sure ESPN will make you put this in a prediction post, but who you got for WS? I feel like everyone will pick the hot Sox, but it rarely seems to work out that the hottest pre playoff team wins.
Klaw: I’ll make a prediction because people want one, not because I think I have some special woo or anything. I’m likely to go Cubs because I think they’re the best all-around team, built well for the playoffs, especially in run prevention.

Sam: How much will Jorge Mateo’s bad final 4 months of the season knock him down in top 100 prospect rankings?
Klaw: I’ve said this previously, but I’m less concerned with his performance than with the apparent lack of hard contact. He could be hitting the ball hard and not getting results, and I’d still be high on him. But he’s not even doing that. And then there’s whatever got him suspended in July on top of everything else.

Scrapper: Who will have the better career: Carlos Rodon or Kevin Gausman
Klaw: I’ll take Gausman, believe it or not. He’s got the third pitch and I think he’s more likely to end up with above-average command.

Ryan: Keith – thanks for the chats and for not being afraid of stepping outside the foul lines. I have a 4.5 year old daughter and my wife and I want to step past infant books for her. What chapter books worked for you and your daughter around that age?
Klaw: We did the Winnie the Pooh books and the first two Mary Poppins books and my daughter loved them. Eventually you’ll run into Rainbow Magic, and I wish you godspeed when that happens.

Grant: Has the perceived value of any contract flipped further this year than Rick Porcello’s? He went from being called a bottom 10 MLB contract to a Cy Young candidate.
Klaw: Too bad the GM who signed him got fired for his troubles.

Scrapper: Is exit velocity something that you look at now or is this a “limited utility” statistic for you?
Klaw: I believe there is value in it, but we are still learning what that value is.

Zac: If you were going to have the perfect breakfast, lunch, dinner combo in Nashville, where would you be eating?
Klaw: Breakfast at Pinewood Social, lunch at Mas Tacos Por Favor, dinner at Husk or City House or 404 Kitchen or Two Ten Jack…

Ramon: I’m certainly no scientist, but I’ve heard theories that while vaccinations are themselves bad, that possibly over vaccinating (getting too many all at one time) may be a bad idea. What do studies say?
Klaw: They say this is absolute nonsense. My daughter, at age one or maybe just short of it, was at a playgym of some sort, and my wife saw her lick the floor. She ingested more pathogens in that one act than in every vaccine she got that whole year. Our immune systems are way stronger than the deniers claim.

JWR: Do you set aside a specific time to write your book or is it pretty much just write when time permits?
Klaw: When time permits. And when I’m not distracted by things.

Chris: Has Kodi Medeiros shown enough to stay as a starter long term, or is he for sure destined to the pen?
Klaw: Bullpen guy.

Chris: Preller should have been fired, right?
Klaw: I don’t agree.

Brett: Is David Ortiz an easy choice HOF’er? It seems like he is being treated as such. The WAR is surprisingly low (and if Bagwell is out for steroid suspicion, isn’t Ortiz in the same boat?)
Klaw: He’s not a HoFer for me. Edgar is the better DH candidate, and that bar has been set too high for Ortiz to get in.

Stacy: Ok, what do you think of tattoos? Obviously, they are big with millennials. Would you be good with you daughter sleeving the arm?
Klaw: I don’t have any, but it’s her body and when she’s old enough it’ll be her choice.

Jim: Response to the cooking cleanup question: They made liners for crock pots so there’s no cleanup involved with that.
Klaw: Also true.

spx: Inciate’s catch – first step was -.7. How is that possible?
Klaw: I actually don’t understand what that’s saying. He started before the ball was hit?

Tom: Sorry, my Pink Floyd joke sounded better in my mind, the operative word was “influence”, the lunatic is in my head…
Klaw: Careful with that axe, Tom.

Frank: Making my first trip to the AFL and looking for any recommendations on food stops..Also long term who will end up having a better career Bellinger or Verdugo th
Klaw: Check my Arizona dining guide for the first part. I’ll bet on Verdugo although I had both guys as top 100 prospects before the season.

Henry: The Smiths were highly influential, and Johnny Marr’s guitar playing is highly underrated. They wouldn’t be on a “top-five” list but their influence is still very evident with the British music scene.
Klaw: Absolutely, but it’s only within the British scene, I think.

Chris: Do you think Chase Vallot can stick behind the plate, and if not, will that bat play good enough elsewhere?
Klaw: No, and I don’t think so.

Scherzer’s Blue Eye: Would you put Giolito as the centerpiece in a deal for Sale? Given the year that Giolito has had?
Klaw: I’d hate to sell a little low – especially when some of it was the Nats’ own tinkering with his delivery – but if it gets you a CY caliber guy like Sale you consider it.

Joe: Do you think third party votes are always bad, or does Trump’s incompetence make this year a special case? I’ve voted third party before and would probably be giving Johnson my vote this year if someone like Kasich had been nominated. But I just can’t do it with Trump on the ballot.
Klaw: I’ve voted third party before too. I don’t agree that they’re always bad. But this time, there’s a dangerous man at the gates of the White House, so bar the doors.

Marshall MN: If you could go back to college and do it all over again (under the assumption you couldn’t follow your current work track), would you directly pursue a writing career or would your obvious interest in science point you toward a hard science field?
Klaw: If I could do it over again, I’d major in applied math and use all my electives on foreign languages. Those are all things I love, and as it turns out, they’re all quite useful in many careers, including the one I’m in. But I started college at 17 and it was a small miracle I could do my own laundry, let alone pick what classes to take.

Klaw: That’s all for this week – sorry the pace was off a bit but I stayed overtime to try to make up for it. Thank you as always for all of your questions; I’ll be back next Thursday for another chat.

Stick to baseball, 9/17/16.

For Insiders this week I wrote about eight top 100 prospects who had down years in 2016; that’s not all prospects who had off years, just eight I chose to discuss. I held my usual Klawchat on Thursday. For Paste I reviewed the fun, family boardgame Saloon Tycoon, where players build across their boards and also add up to three levels as they build upward.

You can pre-order my book, Smart Baseball, ahead of its scheduled release on April 25, 2017. I promise I’ll have it written by then.

Several people I know have new books out recently, and while I haven’t read them yet, I wanted to highlight the titles here:
• Jessica Luther’s Unsportsmanlike Conduct: College Football and the Politics of Rape
• Alan Sepinwall’s TV (The Book): Two Experts Pick the Greatest American Shows of All Time (with Matt Zoller Seitz)
• Geoff Schwartz’s Eat My Schwartz: Our Story of NFL Football, Food, Family, and Faith (with his brother Mitch)

I’ve been sending out a weekly email newsletter with links to all of my content and some additional notes or thoughts that don’t fit anywhere else; you can sign up here if you just don’t have enough Klaw in your life.

And now, the links…

  • Scientific American asked the four remaining Presidential candidates to answer twenty questions on major topics in science and has published the answers of the three who responded. (Gary Johnson hasn’t deigned to reply.) My takeaway: Trump remains a terrifying anti-science candidate, particularly in his denial of climate change (note the scare quotes), while Stein comes off as a serious person here as opposed to the pandering crackpot she’s been playing on Twitter.
  • VICE’s Noisey site has an outstanding piece on the history and music of Homestar Runner, one of my favorite cartoons from any medium.
  • BuzzFeed is capable of some great investigative journalism (when they’re not stealing other people’s content on the Tasty or for their videos), like this piece on police departments “closing” rape cases without investigating them. They focus on Baltimore County, Maryland, where even men convicted of previous assaults were getting away with rapes because the cops couldn’t be bothered.
  • More great investigative journalism, this time from the Houston Chronicle: The backwater known as Texas has been denying special education services to special needs kids because they arbitrarily capped the rate of kids eliglible to receive those services at 8.5%.
  • Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker stands accused of, but not charged with, taking cash for favors from large donors, according to court documents obtained by the Guardian despite a court’s irregular order that the documents be destroyed.
  • Mother Jones writers about the dwindling numbers of black teachers in urban areas and the potential impact on black students.
  • How did a young power couple in Afghanistan, including the youngest woman in that country’s nascent Parliament, end up in Nebraska? The Omaha World-Herald has their harrowing story, from death threats in their home country to entry-level jobs at McDonald’s and Home Depot as refugees here.
  • Experts on hate groups say white supremacists see Donald Trump as their “last stand.” Well, when he’s bragging about the 88 military advisors helping him, how could they think otherwise?
  • I don’t even know what to make of the story that Peter Thiel says Trump will nominate him to the Supreme Court if elected. Thiel is the billionaire who funded the lawsuits that took down Gawker and Nick Denton; perhaps he believes that, but as much as I find Trump as President a horrifying prospect, this seems like Thiel’s own fantasy.
  • Speaking of Gawker, Univision, the new owner of Gawker Media, chose to delete a handful of posts related to ongoing lawsuits (some baseless); the chief news officer at Univision agreed to a long conversation with Gizmodo about these decisions. It’s long and meandering but there’s a lot of meat in here, and while the deletions don’t look good at a glance, I think Univision is also offering some strong support for its writers going forward, too.
  • The Scientific Parent explains why the “too much, too soon” anti-vaxxer argument is wrong. It’s ignorant of basic science: Your kid is ingesting more pathogens in a typical day than s/he’ll get in all the vaccines s/he ever receives, and the metals that vaccine deniers freak out over are present in food, water, even breast milk.
  • Dr. Bob Sears, who’s been accused of ‘selling’ medical exemptions to California’s new mandatory schoolkid vaccination law, may lose his license for medical negligence instead. Whatever gets these charlatans out of the medical business is fine with me.
  • Meanwhile, nearly 10,000 New Jersey schoolkids skipped vaccinations this year. If you live there, call your state legislator and ask him or her to sponsor a bill eliminating non-medical exemptions.
  • Trump’s campaign claims he’s given “tens of millions of dollars” to charity but the Washington Post found no proof.
  • A writer for the National Review claims that the left is “weaponizing” sports, citing the NCAA’s decision to pull championship events from North Carolina as a result of that state passing Hate Bill 2. He drops the ball (!) in sentence two, however, since HB2’s biggest effect is that it local governments from making sexual orientation a protected status in any anti-discrimination ordinances. It’s not about bathrooms; it’s about saying you can’t be fired just because you’re gay.
  • The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology is chaired by an anti-science Republican and Christian Scientist, Lamar Smith (TX). Physicist Lawrence Krauss writes that Smith’s been politicizing scientific research, including that related to climate change and ocean acidification, in his little reign of terror, which will likely continue as long as Republicans control the House. And don’t be fooled by the religion’s name – Christian Science is about as anti-science as any cult can get, eschewing medicine and claiming that sickness is caused by an absence of “right thinking.”
  • Media Matters writes about ongoing criticism of the NY Times‘ perceived bias against Hillary Clinton. I’ve always thought of the Times as a clear, left-leaning publication, so their coverage of HRC’s campaign has surprised me this year.
  • Somalia is a failed state and has been without a real central government for a quarter century now. The northern section of the country calls itself Somaliland, and is seeking internal recognition of its independence. There are some recent examples in east Africa that argue against it, as Eritrea and South Sudan have been plagued by fighting and corruption since their secessions from Ethiopia and Sudan, respectively. Somaliland isn’t leaving a real country, however; there is no competing authority to their own bootstrapped government.
  • The U.S. ended sanctions on Myanmar, but it’s not clear Myanmar (ex-Burma) has actually earned this economic reward. Aung San Suu Kyi’s acquiescence has left many observers puzzled, and the linked piece from the BBC tries to explain it.
  • Author Lionel Shriver (We Need to Talk About Kevin)’s address to the Brisbane Writers Festival on cultural appropriation caused a substantial backlash against her claims that the term is the result of “runaway political correctness.”
  • The Washington Post‘s editorial board wrote that the Hillary Clinton email story is “out of control” relative to its actual importance. I agree; she made a mistake, a significant one, but one that pales in comparison to those of her opponent in this election, such as Trump calling again for Hillary’s assassination.
  • U.S. colleges continue to protect athlete rapists because sports. At UNC a rape victim went public to force the school and the county to stop delaying their investigation. Two women at the University of Richmond did the same, one revealing that a school administrator said the rapist had a right to “finish.”
  • New York Knicks guard Derrick Rose stands accused of gang-raping a woman, and Julie DiCaro writes for Fansided about the civil suit that’s going on right now – including his lawyers’ strange choice not to try to settle the case.
  • Mental Floss shows six math concepts demonstrated via crochet, with the first two (the hyperbolic plane and the Lorenz manifold) the most interesting.
  • Apple’s been getting killed – rightly so – for the iPhone 7’s lack of an analog headphone jack, but VICE’s Motherboard points out the iPhone 6+ has its own very serious engineering flaw.
  • Back in the 1960s, the sugar industry paid Harvard researchers for favorable results, part of a decades-long nutritional con that had us afraid of fat but thinking sugar was mostly harmless.
  • Colin Kaepernick’s protest is working, writes Josh Levin at Slate. Given the widespread conversation he started, I’d have to agree: He used a non-violent, non-disruptive act to make his point, and we’ve spent several weeks talking about all aspects of it, from race in America to the purpose of jingoistic displays at sporting events where many of the players aren’t even from the U.S.
  • Bayer’s pending acquisition of Monsanto has raised questions about Monsanto’s GM seeds business as some farmers find the returns don’t justify the higher costs. This piece from the WSJ is remarkably balanced, avoiding “frankenfoods!” hysteria and discussing pros and cons of genetically modified seeds. One point of note: Weeds that are or have evolved to become resistant to glyphosate have already started invading farms with GM seeds.
  • You’ve probably heard a lot about the Native Americans’ opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline, which will cross much of their land, but before this NPR piece I hadn’t heard much from the pipeline company’s side. For example, I didn’t know that this pipeline will cover the same route as an existing natural gas pipeline installed in 1982, or that the areas the tribes affected say are sacred may not be so.
  • Why did the Governor of Kentucky speak before a hate group and threaten armed sedition if Clinton wins? Why does nobody care about an elected official doing this?
  • Radiolab had a great podcast describing the ordeal of a girl who turned 18 without any documentation to prove she exists. It has taken her over a year just to acquire some of the things we take for granted, and she’s still fighting for a social security number.
  • A man in nearby Smyrna, Delaware, reports that this relaxing tea better fucking work, according to The Onion.


My latest boardgame review for Paste covers the 3D building game Saloon Tycoon, and I wrote a piece for Insiders yesterday on some top 100 prospects who had down years. I also held a Klawchat here on Thursday.

Laurent Binet’s historical novel HHhH won the Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman, an award given to the best debut novel in French literature, in 2010, and has since become a bestseller in multiple languages and even spawned a film version due out in 2017. But it’s far from a typical historical novel; while the novel’s core is the story of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, the “Blond Beast” of Hitler’s regime and a primary architect of the Holocaust, Binet has wrapped that story up in his own metafictional account of the author’s difficulty in writing a novel about the past where the participants are dead.

The Heydrich storyline is fairly simple, and Binet – or, I suppose, the narrator-author within the book – tells it with sufficient detail to inform the reader and keep the plot moving. Heydrich was born into privilege but was dogged by rumors as a youth that he was part Jewish; as a teenager, he joined a volunteer paramilitary unit and an anti-Semitic organization that was a major forerunner of the Nazi Party. He joined the Germany Navy in 1922 and was rapidly promoted through the ranks; he later married a woman who was already an ardent Nazi, but the affair cost him his officer status and he was briefly unemployed. A bit of good fortune put him in front of Heinrich Himmler, who named him head of the newly created intelligence service within the SS, a post that led to another surge up the ranks for Heydrich, culminating in his roles as director of the Gestapo and as Acting Protector of the occupied area now known as Czechia. It was there that Heydrich became the lone high-ranking Nazi official to be assassinated by resistance forces, the result of a courageous and clumsy operation called Anthropoid that resulted in Heydrich’s death, a showdown where the assassins were trapped in a Prague church after a lengthy manhunt, and the Nazi destruction of the towns of Lidice and Ležáky, with over 1300 civilians murdered.

Binet’s approach in HHhH – the title stands for “Himmlers Hirn heißt Heydrich,” which means “Himmler’s brain is called Heydrich” – is to tell the story of the assassination while also telling the story of telling the story. He presents himself through this narrator surrogate as a writer somewhat obsessed with the historical facts, dwelling over the difficulty of recreating events through secondhand materials of questionable veracity, and often presenting a scene complete with dialogue only to tell us in the next section that he made it up.

On the one hand, Binet examines some real questions seldom asked of historical fiction and even non-fiction, not the least of which is how the author could possibly know what was said in the dialogue s/he presents. Eyewitness testimony is unreliable, as are our memories in general, so even asking participants who said what won’t produce accurate answers. On the other hand, it’s distracting as hell to get rolled up in the assassination storyline, only to have Binet’s narrator burst through the door with a “hold up, that’s not really what happened!” tangent that breaks the spell of the narrative. To be fair, that’s more prevalent in the first half of the book; once the story gets cooking, such as the scene when the assassins bumble the actual attempt (which, sorry for the spoiler, killed Heydrich anyway), the interruptions are fewer, and Binet saves some of his final thoughts on the author’s dilemma for the last few pages – a peroration that is as effective as any other passage in conveying his state of mind as an author who became invested in his story and frustrated by his inability to ever get it truly “right.” HHhH thus is more like two nested stories, the outer one of which is about the inner story, with differing styles and levels of interest in both of them, working well together but carrying some of the frustrating hallmarks of all postmodern literature.

Next up: I’m halfway through Clifford Simak’s Hugo winner Way Station.