Stick to baseball, 10/28/17.

No new Insider content this week, as I was writing up the top 50 free agents package. That and a look at the offseason trade market will run the week of November 6th. I did hold a Klawchat on Thursday.

I spoke with Arizona’s KJZZ about my book Smart Baseball and the rise of Big Data in the sport. You can find links to buy the book here.

I also run a free email newsletter with personal essays and links to everything I’ve written since the previous newsletter. If you’re already a subscriber, thank you, and yes, I’m overdue to send another one out.

And now, the links, with boardgame stuff at the end as usual…

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…

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…

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, 6/3/17.

My second first-round projection (mock draft) went up on Tuesday, and I held a Klawchat, in which some guy got mad at me for answering a question about my first-round projections by including that link, on Friday. It’s bad enough civility is dead, but must we continue to mutiliate its corpse?

My latest boardgame review for Paste covers the light detective/puzzle game Watson & Holmes, yet another game that uses those public-domain characters strictly for marketing purposes. It’s not a bad game, though, just a little too simple.

I’m told that Smart Baseball continues to sell well, although the sales figures I get mean nothing to me (since it’s my first book), but it wouldn’t hurt if you bought a dozen more copies to give out for Father’s Day to … um … your twelve fathers. Feel free to sign up for my email newsletter as well.

And now, the links…

Stick to baseball, 4/1/17.

My predictions for 2017, including full standings, playoff stuff, and award winners. If you skipped the intro and got mad online about it, I’ll reiterate here: it’s just for fun. I do not run projections, and I will never beat a well-run model at the predictions game except as a fluke. I also wrote one post earlier in the week covering Cardinals, Tigers, and Atlanta prospects I saw while in Florida; there will be another post coming this weekend. I did not chat because I was in the car or at games all week.

My book is back from the printers! You can preorder my upcoming book, Smart Baseball, on amazon, or from other sites via the Harper-Collins page for the book. The book now has two positive reviews out, one from Kirkus Reviews and one from Publishers Weekly.

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, 11/12/16.

I ranked the top 50 free agents available this offseason, for Insiders; once these guys start signing, I’ll post reaction pieces as appropriate. My annual offseason buyers guide series started on Friday with the outfield market; the infielders guide will go up today, followed by relievers Sunday and starters on Monday. I wrote an overview of the potential for big trades this winter, given the weak free agent class.

I held my regular Klawchat on Thursday, but there will be no chat this upcoming week.

My latest boardgame review for Paste covers Cones of … I mean, Council of Blackthorn, a pretty good backstabbing game that I think has one major mechanical flaw.

I also updated my all-time favorite boardgame rankings, which now runs to 100 titles. I think that’s plenty, even with the 40-50 or so I try each year for review purposes.

  • I’m going to start this week with reactions to the election of Donald Trump and the Republicans’ de facto control of all three branches of the federal government (assuming they fill the SCOTUS vacancy with one of their own). If you read just one story about the election, make it this one, on how the GOP’s attack on voting rights may have delivered them the White House. If you support the erosion of the voting rights of American citizens, you stand in opposition to a fundamental principle of the modern democracy. Rolling the clock back to the time of poll taxes and literacy tests just to get your guy elected is wrong, and every one of us should be willing to see a candidate we oppose elected if that is the cost of letting everyone who is eligible to vote have the opportunity to vote. If you live in one of the fourteen states that worked to restrict voting rights, you need to stand up now for yourself and for your neighbors.
  • Rod Dreher, senior editor of the American Conservative, called this America’s front-porch revolt. Michael Moore, of all people, predicted the Trump victory months ago and I think he’s correct about the economic insecurity that drove it. (His five-point “plan” for Democrats is a little light on details.) Glenn Greenwald points out that this was partly the result of politicians’ refusal to heed the lessons of Brexit, that (my words here) economic insecurity and self-interest will trump (pun intended) a lot of other concerns. Esquire‘s Charles Pierce is just plain confused by it all. David Remnick of the New Yorker called Trump’s victory an American tragedy. Unlike the book of that name, however, this won’t be boring, even if the ending is just as awful.
  • Garrison Keillor says Trump’s core voters won’t like what happens next; I suspect he’s right about much of this. Amanda Taub of the New York Times calls the win the rise of white populism, using social science research to identify three driving factors there – fear of outsiders, fear of physical attacks, and the collapse of “white identity.”
  • Even Leslie Knope weighed in, with her usual dose of wide-eyed optimism after despair.
  • A Muslim-American woman wrote for the Washington Post why she voted for Donald Trump. It’s an eloquent, thoughful piece, although I wish I shared her lack of concern over civil rights matters.
  • Climate Central says we’re fucked. Scientists in general are stunned and dismayed as the most anti-science President in our nation’s history is set to control the EPA, the NSF, the USDA … okay, that one sucks, but you get the idea.
  • The Guardian wrote before the election how journalists face “tough choices” when climate science deniers are elected. No, they don’t. You fucking hit them with the truth every time. There is no ‘both sides’ here, like there’s no both sides on evolution or vaccinations. If politicians, elected or appointed, deny the truth of climate change, then it is the media’s responsibility to stick to the truth rather than play along for their jobs’ sakes.
  • Did third-party voters cost Hillary the election? I find this piece overly speculative, since some of those voters may have stayed home rather than vote for either major-party candidate, but if you consider the issue of, say, Hillary failing to convince Jill Stein supporters to come vote for her, there’s merit in the examination.
  • “A KKK-endorsed man who openly bragged about assaulting women has risen to power by stoking rural, white Americans’ fears, and, come January, every branch of the federal government will belong to him and his allies.” Ann Friedman at the Cut tells voters angry over the results what to do now.
  • North Carolina’s HB2, the so-called “bathroom bill” that also created a statewide ban on ordinances protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination, may have cost Republican Governor Pat McCrory re-election. The race is close enough that provisional ballots must still be counted, so it’s not quite over yet. Yet despite this, Trump took North Carolina, in part by suppressing the African-American vote.
  • Kavitha Davidson, my colleague at the magazine and ESPNW, wrote about being a rape survivor, including a graphic description of how invasive the examination is at the hospital after the fact, for those of you who still think women just make this shit up for kicks.
  • The best longread of the week, election or otherwise, was the New Yorker‘s piece on the failing state of Venezuela, which has implications for baseball, oil, and global security. Hugo Chavez was a disaster, but his death has left the country even worse off.
  • The mother of comedian and writer Harris Wittels, who wrote for and appeared on Parks and Recreation, writes about her son’s long battle with and death from heroin addiction.
  • Astronomers around the world will collaborate in the spring of 2017 to try to take the first picture of a black hole. That’s tricker than it sounds, since nothing, not even light, can escape the black hole’s gravitational pull within its event horizon.
  • Researchers in Queensland, Australia, are trying to develop the first ‘vaccines’ for food allergies. With such allergies on the rise in the developed world, this could be a lifesaving invention for millions of people.
  • California voters rejected Proposition 60, which would have required porn stars to wear condoms on screen, but was opposed by public health groups as well as the industry itself as a backdoor (pun unintended) attempt to drive the industry out of state.
  • Does Trader Joes force its employees to act too cheerful? The New York Times explores some employee complaints about the privately-held retailer, which enjoys a cult following on both coasts (of which I am very much a member).
  • The NY Times article from last week claiming GM crops didn’t deliver promised results was flawed, but so were some responses to it, in part because of misunderstandings of the technology itself.
  • The Times also had an article just before the election on Latina hotel workers gaining a political voice in Nevada, one of the only swing states to end up on Clinton’s side on Tuesday. The article is extremely well-written and even David Simon praised its kicker at the end.
  • The BBC visits a private radio station in Damascus, still playing music and sharing news in the midst of the country’s devastating civil war.
  • A new strain of meningococcal disease is on the rise in Australia, raising calls for the relevant vaccine to become part of that country’s required list of childhood vaccinations.

Stick to baseball, 11/5/16.

My big news this week was the formal announcement of my upcoming book, Smart Baseball, which will be released in April of 2017. I have gotten many requests from readers over the years for a recommendation of a book to let them get up to speed on ‘new’ stats, and since the book on that topic didn’t exist, I decided to try to write it. You can pre-order it via amazon and other sites already; it will be out in hardcover and as an e-book, but Harper Collins has not decided on an audio version yet. I also do not yet know what appearances I’ll be making or if there will be any sort of tour.

I held my regular Klawchat on Friday this past week, and my latest boardgame review for Paste covers the Hanabi-like deduction game Beyond Baker Street, where you can’t see the cards in your own hand and must give clues to other players on what cards they hold.

My email newsletter has now passed 2500 subscribers; thank you to everyone who’s already signed up. If you haven’t, what are you waiting for?

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…