Stick to baseball, 11/11/17.

I have a new boardgame review at Paste, covering the card-drafting game Skyward. I also had two Insider posts go up earlier this week, one previewing some potential offseason trade targets, the other ranking the top 50 free agents this winter. And I held a Klawchat on Thursday.

Feel free to sign up for my free email newsletter, which I send out … I guess whenever I feel like it. I aim for once a week, although I’ve gone as long as two weeks between issues when I haven’t had much to say. You can see past issues at that link.

Also, don’t forget to buy copies of Smart Baseball for everyone on your Christmas list! Except for infants. They might eat the pages. Get them the audiobook instead.

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…

Oakland & San Francisco eats.

I’ll have my annual re-ranking of the top five farm systems up this week, most likely Tuesday, for Insiders.

I only had two meals on my own during my trip to the Bay Area last week to speak at Google and sign books at Books Inc. in Berkeley (which should still have signed copies available), but both were memorable additions to my ongoing U.S. pizzeria tour. Oakland’s Pizzaiolo is on that list from Food and Wine from a few years ago that continues to inform some of my travels – it’s not a perfect list but I’ve done well by it overall – but the pizza wasn’t even the best thing I ate there.

Pizzaiolo is more than a pizzeria, although those are obviously the star attraction on the menu. It’s really a locavore restaurant that also does pastas, mains, salads, and vegetable-focused sides (contorni), with outstanding, largely local ingredients the common thread among all of them. I met a friend for dinner there and we split two pizzas, a margherita with housemade Italian sausage and a pizza of sweet & hot peppers, black olives, and ricotta salata. The sausage was probably the best element of all of this; the dough itself was good, maybe a grade 55 when comparing it to other Neapolitan pizzerias I’ve tried around the country (a list that has to number around fifty now). The pepper and olive pizza was surprisingly good, less spicy than I feared it would be, more briny and salty from the combination of the olives and the ricotta salata, a pressed, salted, lightly aged cheese made from the whey of sheep’s milk left over from other cheesemaking. But the best thing I ate was actually a salad of mixed chicory leaves (especially radicchio) with figs and hazelnuts; I love radicchio in spite of its bitterness (or perhaps because of it), but this had some of the least bitter chicory leaves I’ve ever tasted, and the sweetness of the black mission figs gave the perfect contrast to just that hint of a bitter note. The menu changes daily, however, and I can see it’s not on the Pizzaiolo menu today.

Una Pizza Napoletana isn’t on that F&W list of the country’s best pizzerias, which is kind of a joke because it’s probably a top five spot for me because of the dough. I’ve never had a pizza with a crust like this – it has the texture of naan, which is an enriched dough from India (usually containing yogurt or other dairy), whereas pizza dough is typically enriched with nothing but maybe a little olive oil. The menu is very short: five different pizza options, no alterations or substitutions allowed, with a few drinks, and one extra pizza (with fresh eggs) on Saturdays. Most of the pizzas use buffalo-milk mozzarella, and only the margherita has tomato sauce. I went with the filetti, which has no sauce but uses fresh cherry tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, garlic, and fresh basil. It’s really the dough that makes this pizza – it’s a traditional, naturally-leavened dough that takes three days to make, resulting in that incomparable texture. The pizzas are on the expensive side at $25 apiece, although I think given the quality of inputs and the time required to make doughs like this, it’s a reasonable price point. You’re buying someone’s skill and time for something you’re never going to make at home.

Una Pizza Napoletana in San Francisco. To die for.

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My new friends at Google also sent me home with a few gifts, including a bag of coffee from Philz, which a few of you have been telling me to try for years now. I haven’t opened the bag yet (I am a bit obsessive about finishing one bag before opening the next) but will report back when I try it.

Miami eats.

My recap of the 2017 Futures Game is now up for Insiders.

Downtown Miami itself is … not that great, really. The city was badly overmatched by the traffic and crowds in town for the weekend, with cops stationed at many corners but not doing anything to direct traffic or stop the many drivers doing illegal things (right turn from the left lane, blowing through red lights). I ended up spending most of my free time in the artsy Wynwood area, which seems to be the booming neighborhood for food, bars, and culture.

Lung Yai Thai Tapas is not really a tapas place, but it does indeed appear to be a Thai place, and I’d read several glowing reviews before my trip. I also rarely eat Thai food at or near home, since my wife is allergic to shellfish and Thai cuisine has a lot of hidden shellfish (oyster sauce, shrimp paste) in its recipes. Lung Yai’s lunch menu had mostly familiar dishes, so I went with the green papaya salad and with the first dish in the ‘chef’s recommendations’ section, khao soi gai, a northern Thai noodle dish served like a soup, with a coconut milk-curry sauce over boiled egg noodles and chicken, with crispy fried noodles on top. My experience with northern Thai dishes is pretty limited, but the khao soi had a huge umami base with the natural sweetness of the coconut and the flavors of yellow curry without any heat. It’s a tiny spot, with maybe 15 seats around a long counter, in a rundown neighborhood, but the food justified the trip out of my way. I’ve seen comments online that there’s a soup-Nazi atmosphere here, with rules you have to follow, but service was friendly and attentive, and if there were unwritten rules I guess I didn’t break any.

Kyu is an uber-trendy see-and-be-seen sort of restaurant that happens to serve great food, although it certainly wasn’t my sort of scene, and the front of house staff had a little bit of that “we’re doing you a favor by letting you eat here” vibe that drives me up a wall. But the food itself was worth the wait. Their duck breast “burnt ends” is really just a slow-smoked duck breast that develops a bbq char on the outside of the skin and the texture of a high-quality pork chop in the center despite being cooked through (which would ordinarily dry a duck breast out). I think there was five-spice in the rub and/or the sauce it’s served on, which, by the way, is all it’s served on: you get a large duck breast cut into slices and that’s it. I had ordered one side, the grilled baby bok choy with crispy garlic and chiles, which is the best bok choy dish I’ve ever had – garlic and chile are the two main flavor affinities for bok choy anyway, but this version had multiple textures and really crushed the salt-spice component. The garlic was there but didn’t overpower the dish, which I think is often a copout for dark green vegetable preparations. Kyu is particularly well known for their coconut cake, with what I think is a cream cheese-based icing (it was sweet and a little tangy, not just straight sweet), served with a scoop of coconut ice cream, and I can vouch that 1) it was amazing in every aspect and 2) when it showed up there was suddenly a lot of attention from the folks sitting and standing around me.

Panther Coffee is the best-known third-wave roaster in south Florida, maybe in all of Florida, and they do both outstanding espresso and some unique varietals for pour-over preparations. The espresso was bright and balancced with a ton of body, just lacking that sweetness that some of my favorite espressos (Blue Bottle in particular) offer. For a pour-over, I tried a Tanzanian that had a lot of berry and stone fruit notes but not the citrus of a lot of East African beans. Panther also has a big selection of high-quality pastries – I had a croissant, because coffee on an empty stomach is not a pleasant experience for me – from area bakeries, including some donuts that looked like little works of art.

I had drinks on Sunday night with longtime friend Will Leitch, which we realized is probably the longest conversation we’ve ever had in person despite knowing each other for a really long time. (I first met him when he did a reading for his book God Save the Fan in LA, so that had to be the spring of 2008.) We met up at the bar portion of Edge Steak & Bar inside the Four Seasons, which is actually not priced like a Four Seasons hotel restaurant might be and has a great bar menu of small plates as well as an enormous whiskey selection if you’re inclined to that sort of spirit. I tried two dishes – the bay scallop crudo with grapefruit, pomegranate seeds, and cucumbers, which had the perfect acid/sweet ratio; and the tostones with an avocado spread that was kind of a mild guacamole, also very good but on the heavy side. I can also verify that two of their Boulevardier cocktails, in essence a negroni with rye, were enough that I was glad I hadn’t driven to the hotel.

I left first thing Monday morning, but if I’d had one more dinner in Miami I would have tried to get to Niu Kitchen, a tapas place specializing in regional Spanish dishes, with jamón iberico and boquerones on the menu. That’ll have to wait for a scouting trip down there next year.

Louisville eats.

I spent three nights in Louisville late last month for the ACC tournament, which was (mostly) held at the Bats’ AAA stadium right downtown, and I ate like a king for nearly the entire trip – to say nothing of the coffee.

Garage Bar had been on my to-do list for years, since Food and Wine posted a list of the best 48 pizzerias in the United States. (I’ve now been to 29, and one of the others closed shortly after the list was posted.) Garage Bar is, indeed, in a converted garage, and the space is very Brooklyn-hipster, but damn, that’s good pizza. The style is Neapolitan-ish, with a spongy, soft dough, but not the wet centers of true Neapolitan pizzas, although they use the classic ingredients (type 00 flour, San Marzano tomatoes) of that style and cook in a brick, wood-fired oven that hits 850 degrees. I tried the Local Mushroom pizza, a tomato-less pie that delivered just what I’d want in a mushroom pizza – big mushroom flavors complemented but not overwhelmed by the flavor of the cheese, here fromage blanc, a soft, fresh cow’s milk cheese where the fermentation is stopped fairly early in the process. I also recommend the Caesar salad, which is lightly dressed, not overly garlicky, topped with fried kale strips and two stripes of white anchovy (the good stuff).

After the last game ended on Friday, I walked over to Milkwood in downtown Louisville, mostly because I just wanted to try one of Edward Lee’s restaurants even though I wasn’t that hungry. The menu is a sort of Korean-southern fusion, but I went traditional with the vegetarian bibimbap, a Korean rice dish served in a smokin’ hot bowl that continues to cook the food at the table. Granted, I could eat plain white rice till the cows come home (and it’s a good thing I don’t because white rice is nutritionally worthless), but I killed this dish despite, as I said, not being very hungry. I even got dessert because the bartender told me the peanut butter ice cream that comes with the chess pie can’t be missed, and he was right – you can keep the pie, just give me the ice cream. (Chess pie is an acquired taste; it’s a southern custard pie that typically contains cornmeal and vinegar in the filling.)

Royals Hot Chicken has only been open for about a year and a half, offering what they call Nashville hot chicken, although their version is a little different – it’s all white meat “jumbo tenders” (each of which is a half breast halved again the long way), available at any spice level you like. I’m generally not a fan of chicken breast meat because it’s so lean and, in most cases, flavorless, but the crust at Royals’ has plenty of flavor, even on the mild setting (I like capsaicin more than it likes me). They have a long list of southern comfort-food sides, but I went with the roasted sweet potato with sorghum butter (the cashier’s rec) and the cucumber salad, both of which were excellent and didn’t make the entire meal into a heavy soporific. Speaking of which, I was surprised how little oil I had on my hands after eating the chicken, which is how it should be but rarely is.

Also in New Lou is Mayan Cafe, and I’m going to tell you up front, get the lima beans. It’s a signature item for them, and they’re damn good, and so popular that the restaurant posted the recipe. I ordered the salbutes, a regional Mexican preparation of a fried (flour) tortilla that puffs up and is topped like a cracker, with toppings that change daily; the chilaquiles; and the “chocolate on chocolate” dessert, which I was told was vegan and still can’t believe given how rich the cake was. I’d probably do something different for an entree, as the chilaquiles, while vegetarian (my goal), weren’t remarkable, but everything else I ate was.

Gralehaus was a recommendation from Stella Parks, aka BraveTart, whose first cookbook, BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts, comes out on August 15th; she lives in Lexington but gave me a short to-do food and coffee list for my trip that also included Quills (see below). Gralehaus is a bed & breakfast with a restaurant and bar that’s open to the public for all three meals, and the menu is influenced by southern comfort food but hardly limited to it (there’s a tofu banh mi on the lunch menu, for crying out loud). I couldn’t pass on the black pepper biscuit with duck sausage gravy, served with a sunny egg and and some duck cracklins; it was … decadent isn’t quite the word, but certainly rich and hearty, although the biscuit itself was on the dry side. They have an excellent coffee program, with beans from several artisanal roasters including Intelligentsia and one from right near me, La Maquina, of West Chester, PA.

Against the Grain is a brewpub attached to the Bats’ stadium, with the brewery on-site, but since it was midday I didn’t drink anything, I just ate, and the food was fine – better than ballpark food, certainly, but not on par with the other meals I ate around Louisville. I had the BBQ pork belly, which was served just as a giant slab of what was essentially bacon, and it was fine, nothing special, probably in need of a first step to tenderize the meat a little more before hitting the smoke. Get the Brussels sprouts side if you do go.

The one bad meal I had was at a place called Toast, which is just a mediocre diner that doesn’t execute particularly well and doesn’t list major ingredients in some dishes on its menu. If there’s cheese on a dish, that has to be listed, as you’d list something like nuts or shellfish. That aside, the food just wasn’t good and the service was indifferent.

Louisville has quite a thriving coffee scene, including Sunergos, a local roaster whose blend won a “best espresso in America” competition in 2014 – and it’s damn good, top five for me easily (Blue Bottle, Intelligentsia, Cartel, Four Barrel), so good I went back and bought a half-pound before leaving for the airport. Their blend is mostly Central and South American beans along with some Indonesian beans as well, and the result is noticeably sweet on its own, and there’s a cocoa undertone that I adore in coffee.

Quills was Stella Parks’ suggestion and they also do a solid espresso, not as bold or sweet as Sunergos’ but creditable, and I loved their space over in the Highlands, within walking distance of Gralehaus and Carmichael’s Bookstore; it was big, bright, and full of people working, chatting, just hanging out, the way a neighborhood coffee house should be. I also tried Press on Market, where I had a light-roast Sumatran bean as a pour-over – notable in and of itself because Indonesian beans are typically roasted until dark – and was surprised to find that the beans had some character beyond the roast. It’s a stone’s throw from the Bats’ stadium if you’re downtown.

Minneapolis eats, 2017.

Minneapolis-St. Paul is a tremendous food town (or two towns, technically), thanks to its proximity to great farms, the efforts of a few high-profile chefs there (notably Andrew Zimmern), and an increasingly diverse population that’s supporting all of these new restaurants. I was only there for about 30 hours around my book signing at Moon Palace Books, but managed to squeeze in a few good meals and some great coffee.

The big meal was after my book signing at Revival, which several readers recommended and my friend Evon, who lives in Minneapolis and took me to nearly all of these spots, loves. It’s unabashed Southern cuisine, just done really well. The fried chicken is outstanding, with a crust that shatters with each bite; it comes in three varieties, plain, Tennessee hot, or “poultrygeist,” a sauce with ghost peppers. They will offer you that ghost pepper sauce on the side; don’t do this. I tasted a single drop, and I could feel the lining of my mouth and esophagus melting everywhere it made contact with the capsaicin. The sides are what you’d expect to find at a good southern restaurant; I’d recommend the mashed potatoes + gravy as well as the collard greens, the latter made with apple cider vinegar and cooked well without being cooked like a British vegetable. The biscuits were a little dense (but perfect for soaking up the ‘liquor’ in the greens); they’re served with sorghum butter, which you could really put on anything. Come to think of it, that would have been great on the fried chicken. Also, don’t miss the banana cream pie for dessert. Revival is so popular they’ve just opened a second location in St. Paul.

Zen Box Izakaya is a new Japanese sake house and ramen shop in the Gateway District in what appears to be a converted industrial or warehouse space, offering some pretty impressive ramen that I would say compares well to what I’ve had on the coasts. The pork ramen’s broth was the standout element, as it should be, but I wish they used better-quality noodles in the dish – these tasted fresh from the box. I also tried the server’s suggestion for a starter, the takoyaki, breaded and fried octopus with Japanese mayo, tonkotsu sauce, and bonito flakes; the flavors worked, but there’s definitely more flour than fish in these bites.

Patisserie 46 is a bakery and coffee shop whose chef was nominated for the James Beard Award for Outstanding Baker in 2015, and while I only had one thing, it was outstanding – a strawberry-rhubarb croissant, which was a classic croissant with layers like mica and a filling like you’d find in a fresh strawberry-rhubarb pie. They use Intelligentsia coffee for their espresso. They do some light breakfast and lunch fare and sell whole bread loaves as well.

A couple of quick hits – I found The Humble Cup just because I was staying at the Courtyard across the street (one of the nicest Courtyards I’ve ever stayed in, BTW) and was pleased to find they offered pour-overs using beans from local roaster True Stone Coffee. I’d skip the baked stuff but this is good coffee done correctly … I’ve mentioned George & the Dragon here before, but ate lunch there before heading to the airport; the food has always been excellent, and the pork banh mi I had this time was no exception, mostly because the pork, from local purveyors Compart Duroc, was so flavorful thanks to the five-spice seasoning. If you go and see the owner, Fred, tell him I sent you (he’s a fan too).

Finally, I ended up eating lunch at an unexpected spot: the boardgame cafe at Fantasy Flight Studios in St. Paul. FFG, now part of the Asmodee group (which also includes Days of Wonder, Z-Man, and Plaid Hat), operates a huge gaming space that has a real restaurant in it preparing most dishes from scratch and offering local craft beers on tap. Kyle Dekker, who runs the space and has been a longtime reader of my baseball work, gave me the tour; among other touches, they operate one fryer just for French fries, ensuring no cross-contamination with gluten or other allergens/problem foods. There’s a boardgame store in front and a huge library in back for folks to hang out and borrow a game (or three) and play while they eat, and both sections include games from other publishers. It’s an incredibly impressive undertaking and Kyle said they can be packed on weekends when the weather isn’t great. I’d be there all the time if I lived in the Twin Cities (which I might if it wasn’t located inside the Arctic Circle).

Sarasota and other Florida eats.

Florida spring training kind of sucks, in my professional opinion, because the sites are so far apart and several are wastelands for decent food. I found a handful of decent spots in my week there this year, along with a lot of mediocrity, but I’ll just focus on the good here, including the fact that Sarasota of all places has a decent little food and coffee scene happening.

Baker & Wife is a farm-to-table type of place in Sarasota, recommended to me by a friend who lives nearby, and I was impressed by both the vegetable dishes and, as you’d expect from the name, the dessert. I went with two starters rather than a main, a salad of roasted yellow beets with goat cheese, pesto, and pine nuts, along with crab cakes with a spicy green papaya slaw; of all of that, the only aspect I didn’t care for was the slaw, which tasted too much of fish sauce. The beets were really spectacular, although I am a fan of roasted beets in any form, but I think they pair so well with goat cheese, any kind of nuts, and the salty, bright punch of the pesto. Dessert, I had the “baker’s bannoffie pie,” and I’ll let the menu describe it: “pecan and graham cracker crust, house made banana & vanilla bean pudding, chocolate chips, caramel, cream.” It was that good and then some. It all worked so well together.

Perq is a new third-wave coffee bar in Sarasota, using beans from various artisan roasters around the country, and offering numerous cold-brew and single-origin espresso options along with the usual. It’s a sizable cafe too, unlike a lot of third-wave spots, and they appear to rotate through various roasters – they had a number of I knew from my travels and when I chatted up one of the baristas, he mentioned several other great roasters they’ve used, like heart, Sightglass, Four barrel, Counter Culture, and more.

I had half a decent meal at Selva, a Peruvian restaurant downtown, where the ceviche was very good and the entree I had was not. The ceviche isn’t truly traditional; they have numerous combinations that include various fruits, acids, and types of fish, and the tuna/watermelon ceviche I got had larger pieces of fish than I’m used to seeing in ceviche. It came with a spicy lime sauce for dipping or pouring to taste, and I would recommend using that if you end up here. But the main course was kind of a mess – a duck breast that was cooked very inconsistently, and served with a risotto that was anything but.

There’s also a tiny Buddy Brew location right near Selva, at the entrance to the parking garage downtown not far from Tamiami Trail. I would go to Perq before this, but Buddy Brew is solid.

Elsewhere in the state, I discovered the brand new Foxtail Coffee in Orlando’s Winter Park neighborhood thanks to a scout’s recommendation, and both times I went there was a line out the door. They had four coffees available from different countries; I tried their espresso one day and an Ethiopian Yirgacheffe pour-over the next, the latter of which came with a roasting demonstration from Iain, one of the owners and a baseball fan as well. It’s right near the old location of the Ravenous Pig, which has moved into the old Cask & Larder space but which I can report is still some of the best food to be had in the Orlando area.

Near the Jupiter complex is a very unassuming little coffee shop and roaster called Oceana, which does a lot of single origins as well but roasts most of them darker than I tend to like. Their pour-over options are the way to go – I had an Ethiopian the first day I was there, and I’ll be honest in that I was so in need of the caffeine I don’t remember much beyond the sheer pleasure of feeling it hit my bloodstream. Pass on the espresso as their extraction rate is way too high and the result is watery.

Merritt Island’s Cuban Island Cafe is worth a stop if you’re in that area, which I’d never visited before; I went for my standard choice, lechon asado, which in this case came with some amazing black beans, one maduro, one tostone, and well over a half-pound of pork.

I’ll also mention Harry’s Pizzeria in Miami, which appeared on a list of the best pizzerias in the U.S. a few years ago that I’ve kept on hand for my travels, hitting more than half of the 48 places they listed. The pizza itself was just average, but I had an escarole salad to start that was tremendous – lemon, anchovies, parmiggiano, and bread crumbs. It hit a little of everything, adding salty, sour, and umami notes to the slight bitterness of the raw greens. They have a few non-pizza options that might be worth trying if I ever go back to have that salad again.

Stick to baseball, 2/18/17.

For Insiders, I ranked the top prospects for 2017 impact, although we later removed Alex Reyes from the list now that he’s out for the year. I held my regular Klawchat on Thursday.

On the boardgame front, I reviewed the light family-friendly game Imhotep for Paste this week; it was one of the runners-up for the Spiel des Jahres last year, losing to Isle of Skye. Last week, over at Vulture, I wrote about some of the best games for couples.

You can preorder my upcoming book, Smart Baseball, on amazon, or from other sites via the Harper-Collins page for the book. Also, please sign up for my more-or-less weekly email newsletter.

And now, the links…

Stick to baseball, 2/11/17.

No Insider content this week – you’ve had plenty, so don’t get greedy. I did hold a Klawchat on Thursday.

For Paste, I reviewed the asymmetrical two-player game The Blood of an Englishman, which is based on Jack and the Beanstalk. I also returned to Vulture with a post on eight great boardgames for couples, in honor of Valentine’s Day.

You can preorder my upcoming book, Smart Baseball, on amazon, or from other sites via the Harper-Collins page for the book. Also, please sign up for my more-or-less weekly email newsletter.

And now, the links…

  • Detroit Tigers owner and Little Caesars founder Mike Ilitch passed away yesterday. Here’s a 2016 piece on the hidden cost of cheap pizza, where reducing prices often means taking it out of workers’ pockets.
  • One of the best longreads of the week covered how a Huntington, West Virginia, school official improved school lunches contrary to the meddling efforts of celebrity chef Jamie Oliver.
  • Another great longread: how a young Wikipedia editor/admin is fighting back against misogynist trolls on the site.
  • Eater has a longread, more a collection of shorter pieces than a single story, on the things people will do to hunt and pick rare mushrooms.
  • As much as I crush the NCAA for some of its policies, they’re leading the fight against anti-LGBT discrimination right now, including a threatened six-year boycott of North Carolina that would cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars in lost business over that state’s hate bill HB2, which prevents local governments from passing laws or ordinances protecting LGBT citizens from discrimination.
  • There’s a potential famine brewing in sub-Saharan Africa thanks to the spread of the fall armyworm, which is devastating crops in Zimbabwe already and may be present in six other African countries. We can talk about organic agriculture all we want, but if a synthetic pesticide stops this worm, it’ll save millions of lives.
  • Speaking of which, Dr. Paul Offit wrote about how Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring cost millions of lives too, because DDT, while clearly bad for the environment as a broad-use pesticide, is extremely effective at stopping the spread of mosquito-borne illnesses like malaria.
  • Betsy DeVos was confirmed this week as Secretary of Education, but let’s recall the damage she did in Michigan with her charter-school endeavors. I’ve said on here before that I favor at least some school choice, but school choice is not a panacea for underperforming public schools, and her appointment is a potential disaster for public education in this country.
  • TIME became (I think) the first major publication to run an editorial arguing that it’s time to impeach President Trump. Meanwhile, good journalism keeps coming from unexpected outlets, like Vogue highlighting five things Trump is doing now but for which he attacked Hillary Clinton during the campaign.
  • Buy stock in telecom giants? The new FCC is going to kill off net neutrality, opening those quasi-monopolies up for greater power to squeeze money from content providers and consumers.
  • Meanwhile, Republicans across the country are fighting to restrict voting rights, moves that are likely to help their candidates in 2018 and beyond. If you live in such a state, make your voice heard now, before it’s silenced.
  • Why did House Republicans block a vote on a resolution stating that the Holocaust targeted Jews? Are they so beholden to party that they wouldn’t even vote on a fact?
  • John Yoo, who was Justice Department official under President George W. Bush and advocated heavy use of executive orders, wrote that President Trump has taken executive power too far. This is like Tony Larussa saying a manager uses too many relievers. And a former National Security Council member also wrote for the New York Times that Steve Bannon shouldn’t be on the NSC.
  • Are Trump’s opponents falling into his ‘trap’ with their outrage? I don’t know that I agree with this National Review piece’s conclusions, but it’s worth considering that there are still many voters who will nod their heads at his populist moves without considering their consequences.
  • Is Trump’s fight against the judiciary his Watergate? I doubt it, although there are some parallels.
  • Marco Rubio has moments where he appears to be one of the few GOP leaders willing to oppose the President or stake out a position near the center, including a little-heard speech he gave this week on the demise of civil disagreements. That’s great, Marco; now vote against your party’s President on something that matters.
  • Meanwhile, the GOP continues to use the term “fake news” to keep up its attacks on respected, objective journalism outlets, such as Alabama representative Mo Brooks calling the Washington Post fact-checkers “fake news” for pointing out that his voter fraud claims were, well, fraudulent.
  • Ah, North Dakota, where two Republican legislators said in session that women should spend Sundays taking care of their husbands. Will they face any electoral consequences for this? I doubt it.
  • Vaccines! There are over 400 mumps cases in Washington State’s outbreak. That’s why Peter Hotez, Ddirector of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, can say that the anti-vaxxers are “winning” in another NYT editorial. (I subscribed to the Times online in the fall, mostly to keep these posts going, because they are producing some tremendous content across the board right now.)
  • If you saw the Daily Mail piece claiming that politicians had been hoodwinked by falsified climate-change data, well, don’t read the Daily Mail, as it’s become an unreliable source on any economic, political, or scientific topic. And the story was utter nonsense.
  • Former Top Chef contestant Mark Simmons of NYC’s Kiwiana made his feelings on the Muslim ban quite clear with a pro-immigration message printed on his restaurant’s receipts.
  • Is artisanal chocolate the next big food trend along the lines of craft beer and coffee? I’m a little skeptical, and this piece glosses over chocolate’s big sourcing issue (there’s a lot of child labor and de facto slavery in the cacao supply chain), but I think there’s a market here for better chocolate that can make consumers feel better about what they’re eating.
  • An Intelligentsia Coffee staffer wrote this informative post on why we steep tea but brew coffee.
  • The British Academy of Film and Television Arts has published research on how to help women and people of color in the film industry, a sort of response to the #OscarsSoWhite criticisms we’ve heard the last few years. (The Oscar nominees are much more diverse this year, quelling such complaints for the moment.) It gets more at the root of the problem than the attacks on the Academy Awards do – you won’t see women nominated for Best Director if women are rarely hired as directors or if their films struggle to find funding or distribution. There were few acclaimed movies in 2016 directed by women; I think the best-reviewed was Certain Women, which received very little distribution at all.
  • Is mining asteroids an essential part of our future? I think it is, in some sense, although I’m surprised this piece doesn’t mention iridium, a critical element in manufacturing electronics; it’s believed most of the iridium on earth came from the meteor or comet that caused the K/T extinction event.
  • Vice’s Noisey asked a person with synaesthesia what several songs “taste” like to him. Synaesthesia is a rare brain function where senses ‘cross;’ Vladimir Nabokov had it. I don’t have this, but I do associate all twelve months with certain colors, because when I was maybe five my mom had a Peanuts calendar hanging in our laundry room where January, May, and September were colored in red; February, June, and October in blue; March, July, and November in green; and April, August, and December in yellow. Those months still have those colors to me today.
  • Humor: This New Yorker fake-dialogue post called “I Work from Home” hit a little close, especially as I’m writing this post at 10:30 am on Saturday while still in my pajamas.

Stick to baseball, 1/28/17.

My ranking of the top 100 prospects went up this week, and my org rankings went up last week, so ESPN set up a landing page that links to all my prospect content. When the individual team top tens and reports go up next week, you’ll be able to reach them from this page as well.

ESPN split my top 100 ranking into five posts this year, twenty prospects per page, so here they are from the top to the bottom:

I held a Klawchat Friday after the whole list was up.

And I even got another boardgame review up, this one of the new edition of the 2000 game Citadels, which is actually designed for 4 to 8 players, with rules variants included for 2 or 3. It’s definitely best with four or more, though.

You can preorder my upcoming book, Smart Baseball, on amazon, or from other sites via the Harper-Collins page for the book. Also, please sign up for my more-or-less weekly email newsletter.

And now, the links…