Stick to baseball, 9/9/17.

I wrote two Insider pieces this week, naming ESPN’s 2017 Prospect of the Year (hint: it’s Vlad Jr.) and covering and on the strange saga of Juan Nicasio over the last ten days. I held a Klawchat on Thursday.

Last week, I wrote about the major Game of Thrones-themed boardgames for Vulture. My next boardgame review for Paste will come this week.

My book, Smart Baseball, is out and still selling well (or so I’m told); thanks to all of you who’ve already picked up a copy. And please sign up for my free email newsletter, which is back to more or less weekly at this point now that I’m not traveling for a bit.

And now, the links…

Boardgame news will return next week; I know of two significant Kickstarters to launch on Tuesday, but at least one of them is currently covered by an embargo so I can’t talk about it just yet.

Stick to baseball, 8/26/17.

The big piece from me this week was about GenCon, the massive annual boardgaming convention held in Indianapolis; I went from Thursday to Sunday and my wrapup post covers every game I saw or tried, with a ranking of my top 20. I even slipped in a mention of some upcoming boardgame apps of note.

My latest piece for Insiders was a minor league scouting notebook covering prospects from Pittsburgh (Mitch Keller), Baltimore (Austin Hays), Philadelphia, and Colorado’s systems. I also did my annual rankings of the top tools in the majors: the top hit, run, and power tools, the best pitches of each type, and the
top gloves and arms for catchers, infielders, and outfielders. I don’t particularly love writing these pieces, but readers seem to enjoy them. And I held a Klawchat on Thursday.

I gave a Talk at Google last month, discussing my book Smart Baseball, which you should definitely buy if you haven’t already.

And now, the links…

The Blue Sweater.

Jacqueline Novogratz is the founder and CEO of a non-profit called Acumen, which funds and encourages poverty-reduction efforts that work like business endeavors rather than aid dumps. Foreign aid itself is, in general, not very useful, and often nothing more than a way to prop up corrupt third-world regimes; the U.S. is slated to send out $42 billion in foreign aid in FY2017, but there’s little to no information on how well it works – something like an ROI, for eample. Novogratz has spent over three decades working in the developing world, including substantial time in Rwanda both before and after that country’s civil war and genocide, and her 2009 memoir, The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World, chronicles some of her work – but also has an unfortunate tendency to show her inability to escape her own privilege when describing the people she’s met and places where she’s worked.

The book works as part memoir – Novogratz has lived an incredible life, not least of which is the incredible story of the titular sweater, which she gave away to a donation outlet while in high school only to find a boy wearing the sweater ten years later in Rwanda – and part plea for a more sensible, rational approach to helping alleviate poverty. Novogratz details projects in multiple countries, from creating jobs for women in central Africa to developing mosquito nets that don’t lose effectiveness to expanding access to cataract surgery in India, where a small upfront investment coupled with some expertise led to a substantial return, particularly in economic growth for people who had no opportunities beyond subsistence farming and in improving health and sanitation conditions. (If you’re poor, and you’re not healthy or don’t have access to clean water, you’re much more likely to stay poor, since you can’t work if you’re sick and then can’t pay for the care to get well.)

Her individual anecdotes tend to be pretty compelling, in part because Novogratz has worked in some areas that were either desperately poor or were caught up in conflicts. One of Novogratz’ close colleagues in Rwanda was killed, perhaps assassinated, for pushing women’s rights, and another, mentioned above, ended up a leader in the genocide. She runs into surprising interference from women in Africa who resent her presence – that local men will listen to her, a white woman from the west, but not to local women, even if they boast some western education. Getting money isn’t a problem per se; it’s getting it from donors who are willing to think small, who’ll accept modest goals that people on the ground can achieve, rather than lofty goals (let’s end hunger! Let’s cure AIDS!) that are unattainable. It’s the idea behind sites like GlobalGiving, where the projects are small but the objectives clear and reasonable.

Novogratz speaks of her work in these countries with two voices, one of which tends to undermine the other. When speaking about the actual plans and execution, she sounds like a businessperson, keeping others accountable, asking questions that an investor in a startup might ask, and ensuring that money is going to where it will do some lasting good. But when she starts to talk about the locals in Rwanda, Pakistan, Brazil, and elsewhere, or to describe the places themselves, she sounds like a tourist. Everyone is beautiful, every color is radiant, everyone is so nice, even the ones who turn out to be corrupt or, in one case, associated with the genocide (and later imprisoned for her role). There’s a strain in travel literature where the white westerner fetishizes the natives of developing countries, and that’s on display here. I can’t doubt Novogratz’ sincerity, and it sounds like she’s tough on locals who come in for microloans with half-formed plans, but she appears to have met a long string of perfect and handsome people while traveling the world. The stories themselves are interesting, and I salute the sacrifices she’s made to live this life and try to improve the world, but The Blue Sweater doesn’t do enough to convince the reader that this is the right way to help the world’s poor.

Next up: I’m still several books behind in reviews, but I’m currently reading Chris Cleave’s Everyone Brave is Forgiven.

Stick to baseball, 7/28/17.

For Insiders, I ranked the top five farm systems in baseball, broke down the Jaime Garcia trade to Minnesota, and broke down Tampa Bay’s trades for Lucas Duda and Dan Jennings. I also held a Klawchat on Thursday.

UPDATE: I’ve got one more Insider post covering a few small trades from this week.

I appeared on the Freezing Cold Takes podcast this week, discussing my worst takes, my scouting process (and how failed evaluations have changed it), and Smart Baseball.

I’ve exhausted most of my signings schedule, but will be at GenCon in Indianapolis, signing books on Friday, August 18th, and I believe I will also be signing books at PAX Unplugged in Philadelphia in November. Also, Volumes Book Cafe in Chicago has signed copies for sale; call (773) 697-8066 to purchase one.

And now, the links…

Dancing in the Glory of Monsters.

Five or six years ago, at least, I was at a game in Lake Elsinore when a reader whose name I unfortunately have forgotten recommended a book to me called King Leopold’s Ghost, a meticulous, infuriating non-fiction work on the colonial history of the country now known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which for a few decades was the personal property of that king of Belgium. Leo’s abusive misrule was followed by colonial rule by the Belgian government that was only marginally better, with both regimes characterized by plundering of the massive territory’s natural resources, abuse of its natives, destruction of longstanding social and tribal structures, and the failure to establish any foundation for native rule after independence. It’s a great description of how white Europeans gave Africa’s second-largest country no shot at stability or progress once they left and are largely responsible for the failed state that the D.R. Congo has been for the last twenty to thirty years, including the seemingly neverending civil war(s) that have plagued it since late in the rule of Mobutu Sese Seko.

So at some point in 2016, while sharing a table with a woman in a Starbucks in LA, I started chatting with her about books – she was reading something that related to Africa, so I suggested King Leopold’s Ghost, and she recommended two books to me, one of which was Jason Stearns’ Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa. Stearns’ thorough history provides much of the second half of the history of the failed state, explaining how Mobutu came to power, how his regime fell, how the civil war in the Congo was itself an outgrowth of regional tensions and the Rwandan civil war and genocide, and why the country remains one of that continent’s biggest disasters in every definition – political, economic, and humanitarian. (A Human Rights Watch director just wrote an op ed in the Washington Post last week entitled “The crisis in Congo is spiraling out of control”, as the current dictator, Joseph Kabila, refuses to cede power and is backing increased violence against dissidents, which also includes the murders of two UN observers this spring.)

Stearns’ book focuses primarily on the civil war itself, beginning with a detailed description of the collapse of Rwanda after its President, Juvenal Habyarimana, died in a plane crash in 1994 that his supporters claimed (without evidence) was an assassination, touching off the country’s civil war and humanity’s worst genocide since the Holocaust. The post-genocide government in Rwanda blamed Mobutu Sese Seko, who had a long history of supporting rebel movements and terrorist groups in the region, for supporting the Hutu majority who carried out most of the killings. Rwanda’s new government teamed with other regional leaders to form a coherent rebellion against Mobutu, recruiting a semi-retired Marxist revolutionary named Laurent Kabila to lead a new army called the AFDL to topple the Congolese dictator, who had renamed the country Zaire. Mobutu’s forces crumbled quickly under the advance of better-funded and somewhat more disciplined rebels, although the invaders were guilty of massive war crimes themselves, and the new boss proved to be no better than the old boss – true of Laurent Kabila, who was assassinated himself in 2001, and his son Joseph, who took over and showed authoritarian tendencies of his own. Laurent alienated the foreign leaders who helped him to power, leading to yet another attempt to overthrow him, and the two wars together (called the First and Second Congo Wars, although you could argue it’s all just one long ongoing conflict) have led to over five million deaths and over two million displaced persons along with the continued deterioration of the Congolese state.

This history gives more detail than you could ever want on the atrocities of the two wars and the direct causes of the conflicts – Rwanda’s civil war, the involvement of regional powers, the misrule of Mobutu, Laurent Kabila’s fast alienation of his backers. Stearns spent years on the ground in the D.R. Congo and includes numerous first-person accounts of massacres from survivors. There are no “good guys” here; every group appears to have committed crimes against humanity, including rape, torture, murder, even mutilation of the dead, and while it’s easy to handwave it away as racial animus, even that facile explanation seems to fall short under Stearns’ scrutiny. And the bulk of the deaths came not from violence – horrific as it was – but from starvation, malnutrition, and disease caused by the disruptions of the civil war. The total breakdown of the Congolese state, the displacement of millions of Congolese civilians, the inadequate international response to the humanitarian crisis, and the attacks on refugee camps by rebel and foreign armies all led to these preventable deaths. Stearns gives us plenty of stories of abject violence, which will shock and disgust the reader, but the majority of the deaths from the two wars occurred in more mundane fashion, making them less salacious on the page but no less tragic.

Where Stearns’ book falls short for me, however, is in assigning blame for the ongoing failure to establish a functioning state in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on the Belgians, because at least one of the major causes of the catastrophe is that the country itself is a European fabrication. Most African borders today are based on European colonial borders, ignoring tribal or ethnic boundaries that dated back hundreds of years, but few nations are as constructed as the DR Congo’s, which still has the shape of “everything King Leopold could claim” and combines 80 million people from over 200 ethnic groups who speak over 240 languages under one national government. The country is also among the world’s richest in mineral resources, with over 70% of the world’s deposits of coltan (columbite-tantalite), the main source of tantalum for electrolytic capacitors found in many consumer electronic devices, and over 30% of the world’s cobalt and diamond deposits. The role of these “conflict minerals” in fueling the wars is debated and probably unanswerable, but their existence and uneven distribution – the country’s “mining capital” and second largest city, Lubumbashi, is over 2000 km away from the national capital, Kinshasa, and sits on the border with Zambia in the relatively well-off Katanga Province – means dividing the country along ethnic or historical lines would create huge economic disparities among the new nations. (Witness the problems with South Sudan, which was carved out of Sudan six years ago and took most of the country’s oil reserves with it – but not the pipeline to the Red Sea, which goes through Khartoum.) Perhaps the D.R. Congo was doomed to failure from before independence because the country itself is a creation of outside, white forces, and because the successful rebellions have taken over the national government rather than carving out independence for specific regions that might have a chance to function because they’re easier to run and combine fewer ethnic or linguistic groups.

Dancing in the Glory of Monsters covers a tremendous amount of ground, literally and figuratively, even without delving into the question of whether this country can ever function properly given its colonial history; there’s enough detail in here on the two Congolese civil wars to give any reader more than enough insight into what happened, a good shot at understanding why, and plenty of despair over the future of that godforsaken country. The book was published in 2011, and nothing has improved in the D.R. Congo since then. A rebellion in the eastern Kivu region continues to roil, and the political crisis that began in 2015 is worsening as Joseph Kabila refuses to cede power and has been cracking down on opposition, a situation that has only further deteriorated since the main opposition leader, Étienne Tshisekedi, who was supposed to oversee a transitional post-Kabila government, died in February. Stearns tries to end the book with a little optimism, explaining at least what the international community might do to try to stabilize the country, but given everything that has come post-publication, I think the D.R. Congo is more likely to become the new Somalia than to become a functioning state again.

Next up: Louis Bromfield’s 1926 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Early Autumn.

Last Train to Zona Verde.

Paul Theroux is a famous travel writer – meaning a writer who travels, and writes about what he discovers, not a writer who tells you to visit this city and eat at these restaurants – whose work never really crossed my awareness until last year, when a stranger I chatted with at an LA-area Starbucks recommended I check out his books, and I found right then that his 2013 book Last Train to Zona Verde: My Ultimate African Safari was on sale for the Kindle. It’s not an easy read, and a huge change of pace from any other “western writer goes to non-white country” book or essay I’ve ever read, but the last third or so on the book, where Theroux goes to one of the most closed-off countries in the world, Angola, is edifying and unforgettable.

Theroux writes of Angola, “a country that is so hard to enter makes me curious to discover what is on the other side of the fence,” a sentiment I can certainly understand, but what he finds after a difficult border crossing from Namibia is as dysfunctional a state as you could imagine this side of Somalia, and perhaps worse. Whereas Somalia and Libya are simply failed states, outlines on the map that lack functioning central governments, Angola is an extreme kleptocracy. Despite $130 billion in annual GDP ($6500 per capita) and rapid growth due to oil revenues, there’s widespread poverty and malnutrition, lack of education or basic services, and minimal infrastructure. Seventy percent of Angolans live on $2 a day or less, and one in six children die before the age of five, the worst such rate in the world. But due to corruption – it’s ranked the fifth-most corrupt in the world, according to that link – the massive oil revenues don’t flow to the people; the President’s daughter is worth over $3 billion, and last year became head of the state-owned energy firm after the company’s board was sacked. Her father has been in power for 38 years, looting a country with oil reserves to match Mexico, and while it’s not a police state, it’s a repressive country where the fortunate few live in a world apart from the 25 million poor residents.

Theroux actually starts his journey in Cape Town, South Africa, and works his way up the west coast of Africa, stopping in Angola for practical reasons (crossing the Congo River would have required a long trip inland) and emotional (his conclusion that seeing more countries would not illuminate anything beyond what he learned in Angola). Each of the three countries he does visit provides its own education, or a sort of lesson, but at least the first two have some glimmers of hope. South Africa’s cities have grown to absorb some of the impoverished shantytowns that surround them, as services expand towards the slums and provide at least some level of mobility – not what we expect here, by any means, but at least a possibility out of extreme poverty, yet one always held back by the increasing numbers of squatters arriving to expand the slums that surround all South African cities.

Namibia is often considered one of the few African success stories, as it has followed a century of oppression (first by Germans, then by the Afrikaner government of South Africa) with 25 years of a stable, multi-party democracy. It’s sparsely populated, with a significant mining industry, but an increasing reliance on European tourists who come to visit certain beaches or indulge in safari and wildlife tourism of a sort Theroux experiences and disdains. He detours inland to speak at a small conference at an isolated town in northeastern Namibia, seeing how the colonial governments and now the Namibian federal government have both ignored the Ju/’hoansi people of the interior, and then crosses into Botswana’s Okavango Delta region to visit a luxury resort and elephant preserve, eating five-star meals and riding an elephant along with the tourists paying thousands of dollars a day to be there.

In the Namibian section of the book, Theroux comes off as a bit of a crosspatch, because while he’s identifying clear socioeconomic problems, Namibia is far from a hopeless case. There’s misused foreign aid here, as in all of Africa – he cites some of the research showing that foreign aid to developing countries often does little or no good for those populations – and certainly poverty beyond what we see here, but there is a functioning government and some economic activity that could provide the foundation for growth. There are not enough jobs, and there’s not enough education, but the raw materials are here.

Angola, however, is an absolute basket case, and this is where Theroux seems to lose his faith in Africa. The government’s elites are looting the country in as venal a way possible – most of the country’s oil actually comes from the exclave of Cabinda, which is the small section of Angola located on the north side of the Congo delta and thus separated from the rest of the country by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (ex-Zaire), itself a failed state looted by a series of dictators (including my friend Mobute Sese Seko) and essentially ungoverned in the way Angola is. The former Portuguese colony is flush with cash, but roads are unpaved, schools lack books, public servants might be paid once a year, and the people are starving. It is a country completely without hope, and Theroux talks to one local who believes it’s simmering towards a revolution – a population of desperate young people with nothing to lose, aware of the money made by the tiny elites and the handful of foreign nationals, including a growing number of Chinese expats. Angola was wrecked by a war for independence and then a quarter-century civil war that has still left the land full of mines, and could quickly devolve into Somalia-like anarchy if Theroux’s friend is correct. (That friend, however, was one of three men Theroux spent time with on his trip who died soon afterwards – one was killed by an elephant at the preserve, one was murdered in his home, and one died of a heart attack. The moral of this story is that if Paul Theroux visits your country and wants to hang out, don’t.)

It’s a depressing end to the story and, in Theroux’s case, to his lifetime of travel to and time spent in Africa. You can hear him washing his hands of the continent, not as a lost cause per se, but as a problem the West helped create but can’t solve. No one is stepping in to fix Angola now, because Angola is a stable country that sells oil. China is investing in the country, but sending its own undesirables (including criminals) to work there, not employing locals, and thus props up the kleptocracy the way we do in the Middle East. It’s a warning of sorts – this could be the African powder keg – but Theroux brings no hope that anyone, the Angolans or the West, is about to fix anything.

Next up: My favorite food writer, Michael Ruhlman, published a book of three novellas called In Short Measures a little over a year ago, and I’ve had it on my Kindle since February but never read it until now.

Stick to baseball, 12/31/16.

No Insider pieces and no Klawchat this week, between the lack of MLB activity, a little holiday-related travel, and me just generally taking it easy this week. I did review the boardgame City of Spies: Estoril 1942 for Paste, and have reviews coming up for Doom, Kodama, and Inis.

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

And now, the links…

  • Texas is making rapid progress in becoming the nation’s worst backwater, from anti-gay laws to wiping out abortion clinics to reducing environmental protections to a statewide cut in special education resources, as detailed in this Houston Chronicle investigative report on how tens of thousands of disabled children in Texas aren’t getting the education help they deserve.
  • This New York Times profile on an Iraq War veteran suffering from PTSD who was convicted of a home invasion highlights how little we do for soldiers returning from active combat duty, and how costly the war in Iraq has been in human lives.
  • I thought the Telegraph had the best piece on George Michael’s career, life, and death at age 53, possibly the result of a heroin addiction. If you haven’t heard his 1990 album, Listen Without Prejudice, Volume 1, it stands up incredibly well today for its mixture of styles that, at the time, was seen as a disappointment by fans who wanted him to remain a bubblegum pop star. And the same publication also wrote how horrible Gene Kelly was to a 19-year-old Debbie Reynolds during the filming of Singing in the Rain, and how Fred Astaire came to the rescue.
  • Security expert Bruce Schneier, who coined the term “security theater” to refer to all the things we do to appear to make our lives safer, points out that TSA Pre-Check also won’t work, as it just provides a second way for a would-be terrorist to beat the system and get on a plane. He links to a former TSA administrator’s post explaining Pre-Check’s vulnerabilities, but the two disagree on the solution – Schneier wants less pre-flight screening for everyone, rather than for a select few, saying that terrorists are going to pick ‘clean’ operatives no matter what we do.
  • This longread on Olympian Debbie Thomas’ descent into mental illness and poverty is from March, but I just found it this week and it’s one of the best and most awful stories I’ve read in the last few months. Thomas won a bronze medal in Calgary in 1988, became a doctor, but has lost everything in the last few years as a result of bipolar disorder.
  • Donald Trump took credit for Sprint’s decision, made in April, to add 5000 jobs in the U.S., and here’s a partial list of media outlets who repeated his lie in headlines without pointing out its untruth. Yes, there’s more to an article than a headline, but I know from experience many people will read the headline and then move along … but will still send me an angry email about a headline I didn’t write. (Editors write headlines, not writers.)
  • A New York Times investigation found rampant bribery among Homeland Security officials charged with protecting our borders. I doubt there’s a simple solution to this: no private or public entity will pay agents more than defeating the security is worth to those trying to do so.
  • The same Russian hacker group that has been accused of trying to influence our election placed malware on a computer at the main electric utility in Vermont, raising concerns about an attack on our infrastructure.
  • Meanwhile, the Russian government has also been supporting far-right movements across Europe in an attempt to destabilize EU states, finding success in Hungary, Estonia, and Bulgaria, along with the rise of the neo-Nazi National Front Party in France.
  • “More than a third of the almost 200 people who have met with President-elect Donald Trump since his election last month, including those interviewing for administration jobs, gave large amounts of money to support his campaign and other Republicans this election cycle.” So begins this Politico story on the rising kleptocracy in Washington, where money buys you direct access like we haven’t seen in decades (under either party).
  • Another neo-Nazi group is planning an armed march in Whitefish, Montana, where its founder’s mother lives. There’s more background, and information on the community’s response, in this audio piece from NPR, which describes businesses putting menorahs in windows to show support and solidarity this week.
  • Jane Coaston of MTV.com looks at the roots and insolubility of the Syrian civil war.
  • New York issued the first (known) birth certificate for an intersex person – that is, one that states the person’s sex as “intersex,” referring to someone born with physical and genetic characteristics of both sexes, often including sexual organs. This is law catching up to science, but I ask you, North Carolina and Texas and Mississippi and every bigot out there trying to make life miserable for people unlike you: What bathroom would you like her to use?
  • In 2018 and 2020, remember how the Republicans stole a Supreme Court seat by refusing to even hold a hearing for Merrick Garland, nominated to fill that vacancy by President Obama.
  • The political crisis in Burundi, sparked by the questionable re-election of Pierre Nkurunziza to a third term as President, was not helped when he hinted he might run again in 2020. The Burundian constitution limits the president to a single re-election, and his decision to run roughshod over that clause led to 500 deaths and over 300,000 refugees leaving the country.
  • An open letter from 23 activists, many of them Nobel laureates, calls for the UN Security Council to stop ethnic cleansing in Burma against the Rohingya minority – and criticizes Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi for her inaction on this issue.
  • That Gambian election a few weeks ago that appeared to end the tyrannic rule of President Yahya Jammeh? Yeah, well, so much for that, as Jammeh is trying to annul the results and declare himself the winner. Senegal, which surrounds Gambia on all but the latter’s tiny coastal border, has said a military intervention is only a “last resort.”
  • Fortune looks at the recent spate of frauds among tech startups, asking whether this is a growing trend giving the amount of VC money flying around.

Stick to baseball, 12/10/16.

I wrote a bunch of stuff this week to cover all the major transactions before and during the winter meetings, including:

The Cardinals signing Dexter Fowler
The Yankees signing Aroldis Chapman
The Nationals’ trade for Adam Eaton
The Cubs/Royals trade with Wade Davis and Jorge Soler
The Rockies signing Ian Desmond
The Rays signing Wilson Ramos
The Red Sox trading for Chris Sale
The Red Sox trading for Tyler Thornburg
The Giants signing Mark Melancon
The Yankees signing Matt Holliday
The Astros signing Carlos Beltran

I also held a Klawchat on Friday afternoon.

Over at Paste, I reviewed Terraforming Mars, one of the best new boardgames of 2016, and one that will place high on my ranking of the top ten games of the year when that’s published in the next few days.

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

And now, the links…

Stick to baseball, 11/20/16.

I spent the last week on vacation with my family, in the Bahamas, which was lovely due to the weather, the friendly people, and the rum. Before I left, I filed four offseason buyers’ guides, to the markets for starting pitchers, relief pitchers, infielders & catchers, and outfielders. I also participated in a ’roundtable’ piece with Dan Szymborski where we discussed our NL ROY ballots.

I reviewed the family boardgame Legendary Inventors for Paste; it’s cute but feels a bit unfinished given the imbalance across the various scoring methods. Earlier this month, I updated my all-time favorite boardgame rankings, which now runs to 100 titles.

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

And now, the links…

Stick to baseball, 10/22/16.

My second dispatch from the AFL covers Michael Kopech, Francis Martes, Dillon Tate, and more. I also wrote a column on the Dbacks’ hire of Mike Hazen and the lack of diversity in front offices. Both pieces are for Insiders, and neither mentions Tim Tebow. I also held my regular Klawchat on Thursday.

My latest boardgame review for Paste covers the pirate-themed Islebound, a gorgeous game that plays slow and dry.

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…