Stick to baseball, 9/30/17.

My one ESPN column this week is a free one, covering my awards picks for 2017, excluding NL Rookie of the Year, the ballot I was assigned (again). I also held a Klawchat on Friday.

I reviewed Azul, one of my favorite new boardgames of the year, for Paste, which will be my last review for them until November. I will continue to post reviews here in the interim.

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. I also have a new book signing to announce: October 14th at Changing Hands in Phoenix.

And now, the links…

Stick to baseball, 9/16/17.

For Insiders this week, I wrote two pieces, one on eight top 100 prospects who had disappointing years in 2017, and my last minor-league scouting notebook of the season, covering Yankees, Pirates, Nationals, and Cardinals prospects. I held my regular Klawchat on Thursday. My next column for ESPN will be my annual “players I got wrong” piece; if you have suggestions, throw them in the comments. I try to stick to players who’ve beaten expectations for more than just one season, although sometimes I waive that if there’s a particular story I want to tell.

Over at Paste I reviewed Yamataï, the new boardgame from Days of Wonder, which hasn’t fared that well critically or commercially but which all three members of my family really liked. It’s also a gorgeous game, which never hurts around here.

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.

I have a ton of links from the NY Times this week, which requires a subscription above a certain number of free articles. I normally try to spread my links out across many sources, but the NYT had so much great content this week that I stuck with it. I’ve tagged a few of them as such for those of you who don’t subscribe (I do, obviously). And now, the links…

Stick to baseball, 8/21/17.

This week’s links post is late because I spent the weekend at GenCon in Indianapolis along with 70,000 of my closest friends. I’ll have a big wrap on all the new games I saw (including some upcoming app releases) later this week for Paste.

My annual look at the players with the best tools in MLB started today (for Insiders) with a look at the best hit, power, run, and plate discipline tools. The next two days will feature the best pitches and the best fielding tools. I also held a Klawchat last week.

Last month, I was invited to give a Talk at Google about Smart Baseball, which you can now watch online. My book also got a mention in my alma mater’s alumni magazine.

This morning, I was back at the helm of the Baseball Tonight podcast and was joined by Eric Karabell, Jerry Crasnick, and Alex Speier. I’m often asked by readers if I’ll podcast regularly again – I don’t have a good answer for that, but if you’d like to hear more of me, then spread the word about today’s show (and tomorrow’s, and maybe the three I hosted last week). A good audience for my guest-hosting shows won’t go unnoticed.

And now, the links…

Stick to baseball, 7/22/17.

With the trade deadline approaching, I’ve had a bit more Insider content than usual this week, including breakdowns of the Ryan Madson/Sean Doolittle trade, the David Robertson/Tommy Kahnle/Todd Frazier trade, and the Tyler O’Neill-Marco Gonzales trade. I also had a long post covering lots of prospects I’ve scouted in the last few weeks, including players from the Phillies, Nationals, Orioles, Red Sox, Atlanta, and Cleveland systems. I held a Klawchat on Friday.

My latest boardgame review for Paste covers the asymmetrical game Not Alone, which pits one player against anywhere from one to six opponents who work together, although we found the game really doesn’t work with just two players and is only slightly better with three.

Thanks to everyone who’s already bought Smart Baseball. I’ve got just a couple of additional book signings coming up:

* Chicago, Standard Club, July 28th, 11:30 am – this is a ticketed luncheon event
* Chicago, Volumes, July 28th, 7:30 pm
* GenCon (Indianapolis), August 17th-20th

And now, the links…

Stick to baseball, 7/15/17.

For Insiders, I’ve got my midyear top 50 prospects update, a breakdown of the Jose Quintana trade, and a recap of Sunday’s MLB Futures Game, followed by a Klawchat Thursday afternoon where I focused on questions about the top 50.

MEL magazine’s Tim Grierson, whom you might know from his film reviews or his indispensable podcast with Will Leitch, interviewed me in a wide-ranging conversation that touched on Smart Baseball, pop culture, social media, and other non-baseball topics too.

Thanks to everyone who’s already bought Smart Baseball. I’ve got book signings coming up:

* Harrisburg, Midtown Scholar, July 15th (today!) at 3 pm
* Berkeley, Books Inc., July 19th, 7 pm
* Chicago, Standard Club, July 28th, 11:30 am – this is a ticketed luncheon event
* Chicago, Volumes, July 28th, 7:30 pm
* GenCon (Indianapolis), August 17th-20th

And now, the links…

Stick to baseball, 6/17/17.

I recapped the drafts for all 15 NL teams and all 15 AL teams on Friday and Thursday, respectively, and previously had reactions to day one and day two of the draft, as well as a Klawchat during day two.

I did manage to squeeze in a boardgame review for Paste, breaking down the family-level tile-laying game Bärenpark, which has a Tetris/Patchwork-like mechanic and plays well with four but needs a few rules tweaks to keep it fair.

Smart Baseball continues to sell well, according to my editors, so thank you all for buying, reading, and talking it up. I have signings coming up in Toronto (6/26), Miami (7/8), Harrisburg (7/15), Berkeley (7/19), Chicago (7/28, details to come), and at GenCon 50 in Indianapolis (August 17-20).

Sign up for my free email newsletter! You’ll get even more of my words. I have the best words.

I was a bit busy this week, and was offline most of the day Thursday as we went strawberry picking, which means we now have jam and strawberry-rhubarb pie, so the list of links is pretty short. I should be back to normal next week.

Stick to baseball, 5/20/17.

My one baseball post this past week was the annual ranking of the Top 25 MLB players under 25, which causes more “read the intro” violations than anything else I write every year. I also held a Klawchat on Thursday while in Minneapolis; I will do a quick eats post from there soon, but I’m about six topics behind here due to travel and lack of sleep.

For Paste, I reviewed the new puzzle game Shahrazad, which has a solo version and a two-player mode, both pretty clever with fantastic artwork and very few rules to learn.

My book, Smart Baseball, came out on April 25th from HarperCollins in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook formats. I traveled to Atlanta and the Twin Cities for readings/signings this past week, and am very grateful to all of you who came out to buy the book, have yours signed, or just say hello; we had 50+ folks at each event and Moon Palace Books sold out of the book Thursday night. Smart Baseball also got a very positive review from an unexpected source, the political site The Federalist.

I’m still sending out my email newsletter when I can, and the last edition, about some recent troubles I’ve had with my anxiety disorder and the medication I take for it, got the strongest response yet – so many replies and comments, in fact, that I haven’t been able to respond to the majority of them. I did see them all, though, and I really appreciate all the kind words.

And now, the links…

Stick to baseball, 4/30/17.

My book is out! You can find Smart Baseball absolutely everywhere – online, in bookstores, and even in some libraries. HarperCollins has links to various online vendors, but if you prefer to walk into a bookstore like it’s 1947 and buy the book directly, well, I like to do that too. I know thousands of you have already bought it, so my thanks to all of you.

I went to MLB Network on Friday and appeared on MLB Now, the show hosted by my friend and former ESPN colleague Brian Kenny. You can watch our discussion of the book. I talked to SI’s Richard Deitsch about baseball on TV and about not sticking to sports on social media. I also appeared on my good friend Will Leitch’s podcast to talk about the book and mock his hatred of Fletch.

I also discussed the book on over 50 radio shows this week; highlights included a long chat with WNYC’s Leonard Lopate, talking to Connell McShane on the Don Imus show, appearing on the Felske Files podcast, appearing on the Fantasy Focus Baseball podcast (with Karabell! But no bias cat), talking to WBAL’s Brett Hollander, and talking to WABC’s Sid Rosenberg.

I do have some upcoming appearances as well: May 8th at Pitch Talks Philadelphia, May 16th at The Georgia Center for the Book (in Decatur), and May 18th at Moon Palace Books in Minneapolis. There are further readings/events scheduled in Toronto, Miami, and Brooklyn for June and July.

My other writing from the past week included ranking the top 50 prospects for this year’s draft for ESPN Insiders, a list I’ll eventually expand to 100. It wasn’t easy getting to 50, though. For Paste I ran through the best new boardgames of 2017, including a few titles from the tail end of last year.

OK, finally, let’s get to some links:

Stick to baseball, 12/3/16.

I had a couple of Insider pieces this week, on the trade of Jaime Garcia to Atlanta, the Cespedes contract, the trade of Alex Jackson to Atlanta, and my proposal for an international draft (written before the CBA negotiations ended). I also held a Klawchat on Thursday.

My latest boardgame review for Paste covers Grifters, a “deckbuilder without a deck” that I thought played a little too mechanically.

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, 7/30/16.

It’s been a busy week already and I assume the next 52 hours will be even more so; here are my three Insider posts on trades from the last seven days:

• The Aroldis Chapman trade
• The Texas/Atlanta trade and the Blue Jays’ two deals
• The Andrew Cashner and Eduardo Nunez trades

I also have a draft blog post up on last week’s Under Armour Game, and I held my regular Klawchat on Thursday.

I’ll be on ESPN’s trade deadline show on Monday from 1 to 4 pm ET, after which I’m taking a few days off to work on my book and on some other personal projects.

And now, the links…

  • Dr. Mike Sonne, an injury prevention researcher and a baseball fan, argues that pitch clocks may increase pitcher injury risk by reducing recovery time for fatiguing muscles. So maybe pace of game isn’t such a huge problem.
  • If you missed this on Twitter you really should read Eireann Dolan’s story about her autistic brother, from how he was bullied as a kid to the nightmare they all just went through with him.
  • Iowa Republican Steve King says racist stuff on a regular basis and keeps winning re-election. The Iowa Starting line blog looks at why.
  • As always, I’m nobody’s expert on these matters, but I feel like the rejection of state “vote fraud” laws, including this week’s invalidation of North Carolina’s law as racist, is the biggest story of this election cycle. One, with African-American voters favoring Clinton in historic proportions, it seems like striking down these laws could help her in several critical states, including the swing state of North Carolina. Two, killing these laws – based on the entirely fraudulent fear of fraudulent voting – will have an effect on many elections to come, and, one might hope, will slow efforts to disenfranchise entire demographic groups.
  • BuzzFeed political editor (and longtime reader of mine) Katherine Miller wrote a great longread on how Trump “broke” the conservative movement.
  • Trump has faced multiple allegations of sexual assault from women over the last several decades, including one from his ex-wife Ivana. Everyone dismissed such claims against Bill Clinton in 1991-92, but a quarter-century later, the climate around rape and sexual assault is, or seemed to be, much changed. Perhaps Hannibal Burress needs to joke about it before it’ll go anywhere.
  • A large Swedish study on the environmental impacts of organic agriculture versus conventional found differences in each direction, with neither side clearly favored. This is especially important for consumers, in that food labeled “organic” isn’t going to be more nutritious or necessarily better for the environment. But there’s a problem within the problem here – the term “organic” has itself been watered down (pun intended) from what the term meant when Lord Northbourne coined it in 1940. So-called “natural” pesticides aren’t going to automatically better for the environment, for example, and dumping organic fertilizers into the soil won’t have the same effect as using compost and working in crops (like clover or legumes) that increase nitrogen content in the soil.
  • Those “recyclable” disposable coffee cups aren’t recyclable at all, not unless you have access to one of the very few facilities capable of doing so. This means tons of cups end up in landfills every year, so why don’t we demand better?
  • Scientific American explains a card trick that relies on a simple cipher and the cooperation of a partner.
  • A tough longread on a 20-year-old unsolved missing persons case on the Isle of Wight. The police seem to have botched the earliest stages of the investigation, which may render the case unsolvable.
  • German scientists found a bacterium living inside human noses that produces a chemical toxic to Staphylococcus aureus, the bacterium that causes MRSA. Now if only it worked against gonorrhea, the bacterium behind which has evolved resistance to all known antibiotics.
  • Joe Biden has to acknowledge the LIQUID SWORDS tweet at some point, right? If I see him around here I’m going to ask him.
  • Why are police officers enforcing Trump’s ban on Washington Post reporters? They’re claiming it’s a security issue, but that’s clearly not the case.
  • I wrote about a year ago about an essay I read on the unsolved abc problem in mathematics and the abstruse proof offered by a Japanese mathematician, Shinichi Mochizuki, who created a whole new branch of math to solve it – which meant no one was sure if he actually had solved it at all. Scientific American offers an update and some new commentary, including criticism of Mochizuki’s unwillingness to travel or work with others on the proof.
  • In a new book, Innovation and its Enemies, Calestous Juma explains why people often hate new stuff, and talks about what variables affect adoption rates or drive opposition.
  • The National Post gave the fraudumentary Vaxxed zero stars and an admonition not to see it.
  • Speaking of fraud, anything that claims it can “boost your immune system” is lying and even they worked, it’s a terrible idea. If you pay for these “enhanced” water products, or for useless supplements like Airborne, you might as well flush your money down the toilet.
  • The elusive DC-area chef Peter Chang is opening what he calls the restaurant of his dreams in Bethesda. I’ve been to his place in Charlottesville, and I thought it was excellent but have very little history or knowledge of Sichuan cuisine to compare it to.
  • Congrats to Pizzeria Vetri, our favorite pizzeria in Philly and just one of our favorite restaurants there period, for winning Philly magazine’s Best Soft-Serve Ice Cream nod for 2016.
  • Seth Meyers on “Bernie or Bust” twits: