Saturday five, 5/17/14.

My first mock draft for 2014 – that is, my projection of how the 27 picks of the first round will go – went up on Thursday, and I held my regular Klawchat that day as well. The next mock will go up after next week’s college conference tournaments; I’ll be at the SEC tournament in Hoover from Wednesday to Friday, if any of you choose to make that trip.

A friend of mine in the baseball world recommended the KettlePizza, a kit that sits on top of a kettle-style charcoal grill to turn it into a wood-burning pizza oven. He swears by it, saying he can get the internal temperature up to 800 degrees, which is enough for traditional Neapolitan-style pizza (my favorite kind). Have any of you given tried one of these? I’ve mentioned it to my wife in the context of my upcoming birthday … so any comments would be great.

And now, the weekly links…

Saturday five, 5/10/14.

Sorry this is a day late – I daytripped Indiana at Penn State yesterday, which was almost 11 hours door-to-stadium-to-door. IU’s Sam Travis is a better player than I’d realized; this was my first look and he reminded me of some very good big leaguers.

My ESPN content from the past week:

* My ranking of the top 100 draft prospects for 2014. Of course, we’ve had more injury news since then, so Fedde and Finnegan would move down.
* This week’s Klawchat.

My first projection of this year’s first round will go up on Thursday, May 15th. I’ll chat that afternoon, and I’ll be on Baseball Tonight on Wednesday and Thursday this week.

I didn’t have time to do a five-of-something segment, but I’ll make it up to you with eight links, culled from five different sources:

A History of the World in 6 Glasses.

Klawchat at 1 pm ET today.

Tom Standage’s A History of the World in 6 Glasses gives a light, high-level history of six beverages that all had an impact on human history or development. I’m a big fan of four of them – beer, distilled spirits, coffee, and tea – and won’t turn down the fifth, wine. Only the last of the six Standage covers, Coca-Cola, seems out of place, both based on my personal tastes (I’ll only drink it if I have a headache and can’t have more coffee) and on its status as a thoroughly artifical beverage protected by trade secrets.

Standage has to stretch on occasion to make some of his historical connections, but in general he’s treading on safe ground, especially with beer and liquor, because their development or discovery had substantial economic impacts on the societies that consumed them. Beer was originally both a natural byproduct of grain storage and a safer alternative to water in an era when bacterial contamination was not understood; liquor, notably rum, drove international trade routes, agricultural production in the Caribbean and Latin America, and the slave trade with native kingdoms in western Africa. Wine was an essential part of the symposion, the Greek ancestor of the cocktail party, where great discussions took place in an atmosphere of convivial drinking … and probably excessive drinking, too, although Plato seems to have left that part out of his Dialogues.

Standage connects coffee to the academic cafe culture of western Europe, particularly London, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; the coffee was bad, prepared in large pots in advance and reheated to order, but these cafes, each of which was devoted to a specific subject or area, hosted conversations that led to great advances in areas from science to philosophy. Tea, like coffee, brought medical benefits, especially since water had to be boiled to make the beverage, and became the drink of choice in England in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a shift that led to the British colonization and development of India (for their own purposes, of course, and only after they’d wiped out the subcontinent’s native textile industry) … as well as playing a role in our own revolution against the crown.

Where Standage lost the plot a little was with his shift to an overtly commercial product, Coca-Cola, which was the product of a handful of accidents and experiments and did, as the legend has it, once contain cocaine – the name comes from its onetime use of both the coca plant and the kola nut (a natural source of caffeine) as flavoring agents. The Coca-Cola company did play a role in the post-World War II trend of globalization, but its role was hardly as essential or as organic as those of the other five beverages in the book, and unlike the other drinks Standage covers, cola has no redeeming health qualities and is unhealthful even in small quantities.

A History of the World in 6 Glasses concludes with a prediction, in Standage’s epilogue, that the next beverage to direct human history will be the first one: water, with the need for clean, reliable water supplies directing political strategies and conflicts over the next century. That could have earned a larger chapter, similar to the discussion of the topic in Empires of Food, as it’s going to be a significant issue all over the world, including in the southern half of the United States. I also wish Standage had spent some time discussing the chemistry of each beverage, or more details of its production; he focuses far more on the history aspect of each drink than the scientific or culinary angles. The idea of “notes” in different beverages, widely used in discussions of wine but popping up more and more in reviews of beers, coffees, and even chocolates, derives from the differing chemical composition of the raw materials, which is usually a function of the soil and temperature where those materials grow. Those specific characteristics help drive the higher ends of the markets for each product, which in turn represents a path for coffee and cocoa farmers (and perhaps farmers of other crops) in developing countries to earn an actual living from their work, the kind of economic development that Standage discusses in a historical context in his six primary sections.

Next up: I’m about a quarter of the way through Charles Dickens’ Bleak House. I’m not sure this lawsuit is ever going to be settled.

Saturday five, 5/3/14.

My two bits of content from this week:

* The mishandling of Bryce Harper
* Klawchat

I’ll have an updated top 100 ranking for this year’s rule 4 draft up on Thursday, May 8th, followed by a projected first round (aka a “mock”) on the 15th.

Now, in keeping with the original idea for the Saturday five posts, here are five songs I’ve been listening to lately, outside of the albums I’ve been reviewing:

* The War on Drugs – “Red Eyes.” Everyone seems to love their latest album, Lost In The Dream, but after multiple listens no song has grabbed me like “Red Eyes,” which is the only track on the album that doesn’t sound like a band trying to imitate Bob Dylan. “Red Eyes” reminds me more of Lord Huron or the Head & the Heart, bands that also draw inspiration from Dylan and other folk-rock artists but without coming off as in any way derivative of their influences.

* Thumpers – “Unkinder (A Tougher Love).” Yet another heavily New Wave-inspired English synth/rock act … but the offbeat rhythm of all of the vocals, both verses and chorus, sets the song apart from the dozens of similar tracks that have been coming out of the UK over the last few years. Their debut album, Galore, came out in February.

* Broods – “Bridges.” My daughter loves this song, so here’s her review: “I like the way she sings, and the words sort of, but I mostly like the way she sings.” Works for me. For all the raves Grimes got for her 2012 album Visions, Broods mines similar high-pitched territory but with a far more pleasant vocal style. Their debut EP Broods came out in January.

* Gap Dream – “Fantastic Sam.” The song reminds me of Django Django’s last album, but with a more melancholy, hypnotic tone, and less interesting lyrics (which even my daughter picked up on). Their debut album, Shine Your Light, came out in November.

* La Sera – “Losing to the Dark.” The solo project from former Vivian Girls member Katy Goodman, La Sera put out this lead single earlier this spring, and it’s a near-perfect tranche of bright punk-pop to contrast with its downtrodden lyrics. Her third album, Hour Of The Dawn, comes out on the 13th, and it’s probably my most-anticipated album of the month.

And now, this week’s five links, heavier on science this week…

Also, two bonus links this week that may be relevant to your interests, since you’re here… My ESPN colleague Ramona Shelburne wrote an amazing, thorough story on the Donald Sterling imbroglio from inside the Clippers’ organization. Also, fellow Parks and Recreation fans will enjoy Alan Sepinwall’s post-season-six interview with Michael Schur, covering everything from the changes ahead for season seven to the evolution of the running Cones of Dunshire gag. I’m convinced part of Parks & Rec‘s success came from embracing the show’s essential nerdiness, both the eccentricity of its central characters and the writers’ willingness to make references (like Settlers of Catan) that wouldn’t normally appear in a network series aimed at a mass audience. Or maybe it’s just that they let Chris Pratt do more dead falls. Those work too.

The Cuckoo’s Calling.

J.K. Rowling published her first detective novel, The Cuckoo’s Calling, under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, apparently to see what kind of response she would get to a novel that didn’t have her name attached to it. The book received strong reviews, but barely sold anything until word leaked – or “leaked” – that Rowling was the true author, at which point it became a global best-seller, along the lines of the more modestly-reviewed The Casual Vacancy. It turns out that Rowling has quite a knack for the detective genre, crafting a legitimate hard-boiled detective story, complete with a compelling main character, along the lines of the field’s masters, just updated to a modern setting, and populated with characters and red-herring subplots you might find in a classic mystery novel too.

The detective at the heart of The Cuckoo’s Calling, Cormoran Strike, is indeed hard-boiled, a very down-on-his-luck detective, discharged from the British armed services after losing part of one leg to an IED in Afghanistan, and momentarily living in his office after breaking up with his longtime, faithless girlfriend Charlotte. Strike receives two unexpected visitors to start the novel: A new client, the brother of one of his old school chums (who died when riding his bike into a local quarry as a teenager), asking Strike to investigate the alleged suicide of his adoptive sister; and a temporary secretary, Robin, whom Strike wasn’t expecting and probably can’t afford to keep, but who takes to the work far more than either she or Strike anticipated.

The suicide in question is that of Lula Landry, a supermodel and star of newspaper gossip columns who appears to have jumped to her death from her new luxury apartment, a building also occupied by a famous film producer and his coke-addict wife, as well as an American rapper who has written several songs about Lula. Her brother, John, doesn’t believe the official verdict of suicide, and wants Strike to find the truth, suspecting two hooded black men spotted fleeing from the area of her building on CCTV footage.

The Cuckoo’s Calling brought me back to the first Hercule Poirot novel, Death on the Nile, one of Agatha Christie’s finest works because of the broad set of characters she introduced and heavy use of red-herrings, where nearly every character who didn’t commit the murder at the heart of the novel has some other secret Poirot eventually sniffs out. Rowling has also populated her book with peculiar secondary characters and suspicious suspects, most of whom have something going on they’d rather you not know about, even if it had nothing to do with Lula’s murder. (Spoiler: She didn’t kill herself. Sorry.) While I understand Rowling’s prose has always provoked oppobrium from critics, I appreciate her highly evocative style of writing, long on descriptions to allow the reader to see the action in his/her mind – which suits how I read fiction.

I’m currently re-reading the Harry Potter series for the third time by reading a chapter a night aloud to my daughter – we’re on The Goblet of Fire and I’m running short of accents already – and, because I know the plots so well, I’m picking up all of the clues Rowling left along the way to point the perceptive reader to the ultimate reveal at the end of each book. She uses the same tactic in The Cuckoo’s Calling: Everything you need to know to figure out who did it is there in the book, but she blends these details into the dialogue so well that they didn’t stand out (to me, at least) as obvious clues.

The pleasure in detective novels isn’t so much about the whodunit as it is about the central detective character, whether it’s a hard-boiled shamus like the Continental Cop or an erudite eccentric like Nero Wolfe. Rowling appears to have studied the genre well, as Strike has plenty of aspects of the hard-boiled detective, but with modern flourishes, including what I might call his unusual parentage, and enough of an intellectual streak to call to mind Wolfe or Lord Peter Wimsey – which also means Rowling doesn’t have to have Strike fight his way out of most of his confrontations with suspects. His interactions with Robin, his less-interesting assistant who remains endearing for her innocent eagerness to participate in the detecting side of the job (perhaps an alter ego for the reader), also break type, as Rowling seems to have made it clear that the two aren’t going to shack up, a direction I hope she maintains in future books. It’s a promising beginning to a new series, especially if you liked Rowling’s detail-oriented writing style and the humor she always worked into the Harry Potter novels, and would like to see that brought to the hard-boiled detective arena, a genre where sparse prose is the usual rule. The next Cormoran Strike novel, The Silkworm, comes out on June 19th.

Wye Oak’s Shriek.

I’ve got a chat today at 1 pm ET, and my one column this week was on the Nationals’ mishandling of Bryce Harper.

Indie-folk duo Wye Oak overhauled their entire sound with their latest album, Shriek, released earlier this week on Merge Records to strong reviews (Pitchfork and AV Club both raved about it, while Consequence of Sound was more guarded). Ditching the jangly guitars of their earlier work, Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack have stripped everything down to a synth-drum-and-bass sound that sounds like a search for something that the pair weren’t truly able to find.

Shriek starts off with a grand announcement that this is no longer the Wye Oak of Civilian, with a throwaway keyboard line that goes on, without any backing, for about 15 seconds too long, before we get the potent bass line (one of the album’s strengths is Wasner’s bass work throughout) and the half-a-drum loop, resulting in a dreary if atmospheric dirge that will likely feel like a letdown to anyone who enjoyed Wye Oak’s earlier work. The first three songs, including the title track and the abysmally cheap-sounding “The Tower,” all share that maudlin feel, with Wasner’s vocals and bass somewhat wasted over insufficient percussion and synth lines, and tempos that left me waiting for someone to pick up the pace.

“Glory” finally finds Wye Oak veering more into electro-pop territory, not as bright and sunny as CHVRCHES or St. Lucia, thanks to Wasner’s smoky vocals and the sudden stop at the end of each four-beat drum loop. The result is a darker, more seductive sound that still finds Wye Oak in unfamiliar territory compared to the preceding trio of songs. “Sick Talk” is more overtly CHVRCHES-like with the spare synth-and-drum riff behind Wasner’s higher-pitched, ethereal vocals – reminiscent of the Cocteau Twins, especially since I can’t make out much of what she’s saying – while “Schools of Eyes” starts to wind the tempo back down; it’s not quite as languorous as what comes afterwards, built on a brushed drum pattern and the application of reverb to Wasner’s vocals that give the song a richer texture than most of Shriek‘s other material.

The final four tracks harken back to the opening triad, with slower pacing, starker production, and amateurish synth lines that I’ve always found irritating for the way they seem to emphasize the instrument’s artificality. “Paradise” at least makes its synth riff a dissonant one, and the texture provided by multiple layers of percussion and a vocal that is set off from the primary rhythm of the song by about a half-beat makes the song compelling despite the lack of a clear melody, similar to Bjork’s less poppy work from her last few albums. It’s the last great moment on the album, however, a disc that ends with the whimper of “Logic of Color,” which sounds like it was recorded on a $99 Casio synthesizer from 1988, beneath the weakest lyrics on the album as well. Wye Oak’s decision to abandon guitars for keyboards was a radical shift, but one that could have worked better if they had maintained portions of their old sound rather than producing a record that, around a few standout tracks, sounds like the debut record from a new artist.


Himalayan, the third album from English rock trio Band of Skulls, finds the band moving into more nuanced, original territory, keeping the heavy guitar sounds and blues-rock influences from their last album Sweet Sour but stepping up the songcraft enough to make it sound like something new. There are plenty of winks and nods to other bands, some welcome and some tired, but the result is powerful and intense, and one of the best albums I’ve heard so far this year. (It’s $6.99 through that amazon link above; it’s also on iTunes for $9.99, including a bonus track.)

Band of Skulls have taken some heat for sounding too derivative of other artists, but if you’re going to be derivative, at least be derivative of a broad list of influences – and Band of Skulls certainly do that. You could pick out Black Sabbath (“Asleep at the Wheel”), Led Zeppelin (“Heaven’s Key”), and White Stripes (“I Guess I Know You Fairly Well”), but there’s also Marilyn Manson (“Hoochie Coochie”), Arcade Fire (“Nightmares”), and even a little Bowie (“I Feel Like Ten Men, Nine Dead and One Dying”).

The twin strengths of Band of Skulls are the huge guitar riffs by Russell Marsden and the shared vocals between Marsden and bassist Emma Richardson, with the two aspects helping balance each other – the riffs border on New Wave of British Heavy Metal territory, but the harmonies and female vocals provide the contrast to keep them off Ozzy’s Boneyard. The album starts with the lead single, “Asleep at the Wheel,” built around a riff to make Tony Iommi or Brian Tatler proud, but the lead-in is, appropriately, a driving minor-chord pattern from ’70s AOR, leading into the title track’s Zeppelin-esque rhythm guitars, a track that makes great use of the two vocalists in its chorus.

That takes us to the most interesting song on the album, “Hoochie Coochie,” which sounds for all the world like a reconstructed take on Marilyn Manson’s “The Beautiful People,” right down to the high/low vocal pattern, but with a guitar part more in line with vintage Iron Maiden for its faster tempo. Himalayan‘s shortest track, clocking in at a brisk 2:40 and never letting up on the groove that drives the verses, the song probably has as little to say lyrically as any other on the album, but the main guitar riff gives such a strong impression of wheels turning at high speed that the song compels further listens – and the Bonhamesque percussion, present on several tracks here, helps add to the sense of urgency.

Band of Skulls deviates once more from their basic blues-rock formula with “Toreador,” which is the first hard-rock paso doble song I can remember hearing, with the guitar and drum playing a synchronized two-step rhythm behind the vocals (sung by Richardson), referring to the bullfight as “just a cloak-and-dagger score.” Rapid tempo shifts evoke the changing directions of the toreo, leading into a machine-gun riff that once again calls Adrian Smith’s early work to mind, until the uncertain conclusion after one more iteration of the chorus. It’s a clever transposition of two styles that wouldn’t seem to have any natural connection, and probably has more airplay potential than anything else on the album.

Himalayan can drag when Band of Skulls decides to slow things down, exposing both the weak nature of some of their lyrics and the lack of texture inherent in a trio when you have to turn off the heavy distortion of the lead guitar; for example, “I Feel Like Ten Men, Nine Dead and One Dying” starts off like a Doves B-side, leaving the listener waiting for the Big Crunch to arrive (which it does, in the chorus). “Nightmares” is the album’s strongest mid-tempo song, with the ethereal production of pre-Reflektor Arcade Fire, but again the weak lyrics become more noticeable when the guitars are toned down. There are more than enough high-energy tracks and passages on Himalayan to make up for some soft spots, and I particularly enjoyed its updating of classic sounds from the late-70s/early-80s period of British hard rock and metal that was prevalent even when I was in high school a few years after that. When Band of Skulls decide they want to rock, they rock. They just need to do more of that.

Saturday five, 4/26/14.

The weekly roundup of my ESPN content from the past seven days:

* The top 25 MLB players under age 25. The comments are a cesspool of no-one-ever-reads-the-intro ignorance, too.
* Scouting notes on Lakewood and Charleston prospects, including Aaron Judge and J.P. Crawford.
* Draft blog post on Virginia prep RHP Jake Bukauskus, who is graduating a year early and will likely go in the first round.
* This week’s Klawchat.

The original purpose of the Saturday five post was to include a list of five somethings that had caught my eye or ear recently, like songs, but eventually I just stripped it down to five links per week so that I could post more regularly with a little less pressure on myself. I’m bringing that old format back this week to talk about one of my newest obsessions – coffee. Here are five small roasters, some pretty well-known, whose coffees I’ve enjoyed both at home (with one exception) and on the road.

* Four Barrel. A San Francisco-based roaster focused on single-origins from around the world, and whose coffees I first tried at Phoenix’s wonderful Giant Coffee bar on First Street, not far from Matt’s Big Breakfast (owned by the same guy). A reader who works at Four Barrel was kind enough to send me some of their offerings from this spring, and the Rwandan Musabiymana beans made the best espresso shot I’ve ever pulled at home, with blackberry and blood orange notes and just the right amount of acidity for my particular tastes. I also recommend their Friendo Blendo blend.

* Intelligentsia. One of the biggest of the small guys, Intelligentsia has made huge inroads into the restaurant side of the business as well as opening a handful of high-end artisan shops where the coffee is just part of a larger experience. Their roasts are very light, at least relative to what I think American coffee drinkers expect (Starbucks, Peet’s), and like Four Barrel they specialize in single-origins, engaging in direct trade with farmers around the world. Their Ljulu Lipati beans from Zambia are the only ones from that country I’ve ever tried, and they have a little less acidity and citrus notes than other East African beans I’ve had, with cherry and honey notes making a more balanced cup. Their Black Cat espresso makes a well-rounded shot with great body and the sweetness you’d expect from a blend of South American beans. Intelligentsia has multiple coffee bars in LA and Chicago, plus a new one in the High Line Hotel in New York City.

* heart coffee. A friend of mine at Intelligentsia first introduced me to heart as well, and I’ve since found their beans at Crepe Bar in Tempe and at Culture Espresso in Manhattan. They’re smaller than the preceding two roasters so their options are fewer, but they seem to always have choices from Central/South America as well as Africa, along with a seasonal blend. I particularly liked the Colombian La Pradera beans, which had enough vanilla notes to give it a sweet veneer over richer fruit notes – their website suggests cantaloupe, which I didn’t pick up at all, as well as “nougat,” which I can’t even imagine what that means in a coffee.

* Counter Culture. This is the one on the list I haven’t tried at home yet, but I’ve had them all over the south, including at Joule in Raleigh last month. Hugh Acheson also swears by these guys, and that’s a pretty good recommendation as he’s become a dedicated coffeehound recently. (He’s a good follow on Twitter/Instagram for his coffee meanderings, along with snark and the occasional baseball and hockey commentary.) My favorite so far is La Golondrina, sourced direct from the farm in Colombia, with cocoa, caramel, and bourbon (the drink, not the coffee cultivar) notes.

* Downtown Coffee. This Honolulu micro-roaster and cafe offers a rare opportunity to buy American, if you’re so inclined – Hawai’i is the only U.S. state with the proper climate for coffee cultivation, and Downtown Coffee roasts beans from four of the islands in the chain, both as single-origins and in blends. We visited the shop on our family vacation to Hawai’i in 2012, and loved their coffee and the homemade Japanese pastries they sell, including a fantastic matcha torte that I’ve never had anywhere else. I just ordered beans from them a few weeks ago and have been tearing through their Spring Blend, a medium roast offering with beans from Maui and Waialua (Oahu); its espresso shots have great body and more of the cocoa notes I love in espresso. If you visit the shop, ask for Fred or Fumiko to give you a “tour” of all of the local beans they offer – they’re very knowledgeable, since everything is roasted on-site, and walked me through the differences between beans from each island.

And now, for the Saturday links…

Manchester Orchestra’s Cope.

Manchester Orchestra’s newest album, Cope, has the biggest guitar sound I can remember hearing on any record, gigantic, immersive riffs that I’d love to hear when I plug my own axe into an amplifier. Hell, I want these chords to play any time I enter a room. If Sam Cassell pretended to hold guitar riffs instead of his balls after making a big play, he’d be holding the riffs from Cope.

MO layers these riffs over lugubrious rhythms that derive more from doom metal (acts like Trouble or Cathedral) than from any subgenre in the indie or alternative rock worlds, a formula that produces an uneven album but that works more often than it doesn’t, especially given the naturally despairing tone of Andy Hull’s voice. Album opener and first single “Top Notch” best demonstrates this combination of left- and right-hand paths, with an enormous crunch to open the track that evokes early Black Sabbath both in its force and in the use of sudden transitions from high-intensity riffs to slow, quiet passages beneath the lyrics, the strongest on the disc. The lyrical yearning pairs with the tantalizing pause and buildup into each chorus; the quick stops after each riff leave you standing at the edge of a crumbling cliff, waiting for the next giant crunch to arrive, only to have it come a beat later than you expected.

When MO utilize that set of contrasts – loud/quiet, staccato finishes/tentative restarts – they provide Cope with its strongest tracks, including the opener, “The Mansion,” the 6/4 track “The Ocean,” and “Trees,” the last of which has an opening lick that could have come off a recent Black Keys album. The plaintive riff that opens the waltz “All That I Really Wanted” prop up the generic expressions of regret in the verses – Cope isn’t Hull’s strongest work as a lyricist – in a track that might have served as a better closer than the title track. “The Mansion” is more straightforward, at least in tone and time signature, but another dramatic shift into the chorus punctuates the rather morbid verses that precede each one.

However, when the pace picks up, the music becomes a little one-note – the harmonies sound overproduced, the tension is lacking, and the weaker lyrics become more noticeable. “Girl Harbor” sounds like an aborted attempt at a straight pop song, lacking not only the huge riffs that distinguish the album as a whole but even missing any kind of dissonant or contrasting note to tone down the saccharine lyrics. “Every Stone” is similarly upbeat without balance; that’s not who Manchester Orchestra is, and it’s certainly not what they do best, so when they head in this direction, the harsh or heavy elements are notable by their absence. Those vocal harmonies work so well in the midst of a song that otherwise borders on hard rock or metal, but they risk coming too close to OneRepublic when they indulge in those harmonies without that note of acidity to create a more complete dish.

Cope represents a step forward again for Manchester Orchestra, whose critically-acclaimed 2011 release Simple Math dwelled too much on insular, tenebrous sounds and didn’t have anywhere near the aural appeal of this album. Some listeners may not appreciate the shift from indie-rock quirkiness (like Simple Math‘s “Pensacola”) to full-on metal-tinged rock, but of all of the stylistic dialects the band has tried, this one suits Andy Hull’s voice and lyrics the best, even with some inconsistencies in their transition to this kind of sound.

I take a fair amount of time to review albums, giving them as many listens as I think necessary to write up a proper review, which means I won’t usually have a review out the day an album’s released (only if I have a promo copy), and I won’t review every album I hear. I’m hoping to write up at least three more recent releases before draft season starts to overwhelm me – Band of Skulls’ Himalayan, Jimi Goodwin’s Odludek, and The War on Drugs’ Lost in the Dream.

Saturday five, 4/19/14.

My ESPN content from the past week:

* Scouting reports on prep RHP Tyler Kolek and JC righty Heath Fillmyer.
* My report on this week’s Sally League matchup between Hunter Harvey (Baltimore) and Lucas Giolito (Washington).
* Scouting notes from my Georgia trip last week, including a rant on NC State overusing Carlos Rodon.

There was no Klawchat this week because my flight to Houston didn’t have wifi, and the “Top 25 under 25″ ranking has been pushed back to April 24th. Also, as I mentioned here last week, if you want new Behind the Dish episodes any time soon, let ESPN know.

* If you missed my review of Thinking, Fast and Slow, it’s worth checking it out – the book is popular among the more analytically-minded front offices in MLB.

* The wonderful Agricola iOS app is on sale right now, $4 (down from $7), and the two IAPs are on sale as well. I own the whole set, and it’s the best complex boardgame app available.

And now, to the Saturday links….