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, 7/8/17.

For Insiders this week, I previewed the Futures Game and broke down some of the worst omissions from the All-Star rosters. I held a Klawchat on Friday.

On the non-baseball front, I reviewed the high-strategy boardgame Great Western Trail for Paste this week. I also have a new piece up at Vulture looking at how the TV show Orphan Black has used boardgames as an integral part of several episodes.

Thanks to everyone who’s already bought Smart Baseball; sales spiked this month between Father’s Day and the positive review in the Wall Street Journal. I’ve got book signings coming up:

* Miami, Books and Books, today at 3 pm
* Harrisburg, Midtown Scholar, July 15th
* Berkeley, Books Inc., July 19th
* Chicago, Volumes, July 28th, 7:30 pm
* GenCon (Indianapolis), August 17th-20th

If you’re with an independent bookstore and would like to host a signing, please contact Danielle Bartlett at HarperCollins; we’re trying to accommodate everyone we can within my work schedule. I’m talking to one store about a signing/talk in Brooklyn (along with another author) in August or early September.

And now, the links…

Stick to baseball, 7/1/17.

Couple of Insider posts this week – one with reactions to the initial rosters for the Futures Game and one on top prospects for tomorrow’s international free agent signing period. I also held a Klawchat on Friday afternoon en route to Lakewood from Bristol.

My latest boardgame review for Paste is the two-player game Santorini, which has some light chess/Othello elements to it but is played on a smaller board (5×5) that keeps the games a bit shorter.

Thanks to everyone who’s already bought Smart Baseball; sales spiked this month between Father’s Day and the positive review in the Wall Street Journal. I’ve got book signings coming up:

* Miami, Books and Books, July 8th
* Harrisburg, Midtown Scholar, July 15th
* Berkeley, Books Inc., July 19th
* Chicago, Volumes, July 28th, 7:30 pm
* GenCon (Indianapolis), August 17th-20th

If you’re with an independent bookstore and would like to host a signing, please contact Danielle Bartlett at HarperCollins; we’re trying to accommodate everyone we can within my work schedule.

I also spoke with Sportsnet about the book, anxiety, and the 2017 Blue Jays.

And now, the links…

  • Russell Carleton looks at the utility of pickoff throws over at Baseball Prospectus.
  • This isn’t surprising if you follow Zack Greinke at all, but the pitcher told MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert how he used Statcast data to help turn his 2016 season around.
  • “The Time I Got Recruited to Collude with the Russians.” Long, and you may have seen it, but it seems like more evidence of wrongdoing from the Trump campaign last summer.
  • VICE details a planned (or, really, hypothetical) pay-for-play college basketball league that would focus on the Historically Black Colleges & Universities that have largely missed out on the financial windfall of modern college basketball.
  • The mother of an immune-compromised daughter who was hospitalized recently because she was exposed to chicken pox lashed out at vaccine deniers for putting her daughter’s life at risk. Your decision not to vaccinate your kids isn’t just about your own neglect, but potentially harms other vulnerable people in your community.
  • If you heard that a European Union court ruled against vaccine safety, well, not really.
  • A research paper in the New England Journal of Medicine looks at benefits of increased health insurance coverage under the ACA, including lower costs of reduction in mortality rates compared to other policies. (One of the authors is Dr. Atul Gawande, the author of Being Mortal and The Checklist Manifesto.)
  • Eater has a great profile of gelato maker Meredith Kurtzman, who recently retired after two decades in the NYC food scene, working at restaurants (notably at Mario Batali’s Otto) and earning plaudits from chefs and restaurateurs for her work. It’s a wonderful piece because it doesn’t shy away from the fact that Kurtzman isn’t a very engaging or even likable subject.
  • The NY Times is now charging for access to its cooking site, which … is fine, actually. I know there’s always a backlash when sites charge for content, but if you want good content, you’re going to have to start paying for it somewhere. I subscribe to their main site, the Washington Post, and Fine Cooking magazine, among others. However, charging for recipes is tricky because they can’t be copyrighted – you can copyright text, but not the specifics of a recipe – which makes this a little different than most subscriber walls.
  • The great BBC series Broadchurch just returned on Wednesday for its third and final season, and IndieWire ran a Q&A with star David Tennant that’s more insightful than the standard “actor talks about series he didn’t write but explains everything anyway” sort of piece.
  • The Koch Brothers plan to spend $400 million to help elect conservative Republican candidates in 2018. Repealing Obamacare and reducing taxes on the highest earners are two of their main policy priorities.
  • Daniel Vaughn’s latest list of the top 50 BBQ joints in Texas came out a few weeks ago for Texas Monthly, and if you’re visiting that state, it’s a great resource. (If you live there, well, I’m sorry.)
  • The new Presidential commission on so-called “voter fraud” – which does not actually exist on any significant scale – is really just an attack on voting rights. Even some GOP-led states are declining the requests for state voter information. Delaware hasn’t made any statement yet, but I have reached to the Secretary of State, asking them to refuse to comply.
  • Sen. Al Franken very calmly de-pantsed Energy Secretary Rick Perry on climate change, helped by Perry’s apparent lack of any knowledge on the subject whatsoever.
  • Whole Foods had long contributed to local farmers both in access to markets and in providing low-interest loans to help farmers ramp up operations to serve the chain. Now the farmers worry these programs will end after amazon’s purchase of the retailer.

Stick to baseball, 6/24/17.

I wrote two new pieces for Insiders this past week, one looking at teams that just drafted their new #1 prospects and a minor league scouting piece on Phillies, Cleveland, Red Sox, and Astros prospects. I held a Klawchat on Thursday.

Smart Baseball got a nice sales bump last week from Father’s Day and from George Will’s favorable review in the Wall Street Journal (subscriber link). Ty Duffy also mentions the book in passing in a smart piece on how analytics are changing the game on the field, possibly for the worse. Thank you to everyone who’s purchased it. I hope to see many of you at my upcoming signings/appearances:

* Toronto, The Sports Gallery, June 26th
* Miami, Books and Books, July 8th
* Harrisburg, Midtown Scholar, July 15th
* Berkeley, Books Inc., July 19th
* Chicago, Volumes, July 28th, 7:30 pm
* GenCon (Indianapolis), August 17th-20th

Still working on Brooklyn and Phoenix for later this summer/fall, and I believe I’ll be signing at PAX Unplugged in Philadelphia in November. Bookstores interested in hosting should contact Danielle Bartlett at HarperCollins; we’re trying to accommodate everyone we can within my work schedule.

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, 6/10/17.

I’ve been busy this week, with a top 100 draft prospects “Big Board” up for Insiders, and a free article profiling top draft prospect Hunter Greene, who gave me some really thoughtful answers on the topics of preparation, being a two-way player, and baseball’s declining African-American audience. I also held a Klawchat on Friday afternoon.

I’ll have a new mock draft up tomorrow (Sunday) and my editors and I will update that file until the draft begins Monday evening. I’m also planning to do a chat Monday afternoon as the draft gets closer.

In non-baseball content, BBC America asked me to to rank the main clones on the show Orphan Black, which returns for its fifth and final season tonight on the cable channel. The first four seasons are all available on Amazon Prime, and I highly recommend it.

Over at Paste, I reviewed the cooperative puzzle game Unlock!, which is actually a series of modules that mimic the escape-room experience by asking players to solve riddles on cards and enter codes into a free app on their phones. The publisher sent me four of the modules; I played three before the review, and they’re all difficult but worth playing. The fourth, The Island of Dr. Goorse, was too abstruse, and that’s not just my opinion but the opinion of all five of us who played, including my father, the (retired) electrical engineer and one of the smartest people I’ve ever met.

And now, the links…

Stick to baseball, 5/27/17.

My one Insider piece this week was on Luis Robert, his deal with the White Sox, and the poor history of Cuban position player free agents. I did not hold a Klawchat, and will have another mock draft up on Tuesday.

Smart Baseball continues to sell well and I am very grateful to all of you who purchased it. I have about 100 signed bookplates that I can send out to readers who’ve bought the book, and I’ll get that info to everyone soon – probably in my next email newsletter.

And now, the links…

Stick to baseball, 5/13/17.

My one Insider post this week was my first ‘mock’ draft for 2017, although it’s really too early for that sort of exercise. And I held a Klawchat on Thursday.

Smart Baseball is out now in the U.S. and Canada; you can order it here or get it at any local bookstore. We are working on getting an ebook version out in some international markets, but I can’t promise anything there yet.

I have two signings/talks this week, for which I’m very excited (and a little anxious, to be honest). The first is in Decatur, Georgia (Atlanta area), at the Georgia Center for the Book on Tuesday at 7 pm, and the AJC was kind enough to lead their book events page with a note about my appearance. The second is in Minneapolis at Moon Palace Books on Thursday at 6:30 pm. I hope to meet many of you at these events, both of which are free to attend.

I’ve been asked by many of you about organizing other events. If a bookstore reaches out to Harper Collins to invite me, and I can work it into my schedule, I’m certainly open to doing more. I do have further events scheduled for Toronto, Miami (July 8th), and Berkeley (July 19th), plus am hoping to do signings at GenCon and PAX Unplugged later this year.

I spoke with SUNY-Oswego Professor of Digital Media Brian Moritz about the book, analytics in sports, and being a writer. I joined The Young Turks’ video show to discuss the book and media resistance to advanced stats. I also spoke with ESPN Radio in Dallas, with ESPN 1530 in Cincinnati, and with SI Now about the book & Mike Mussina’s Hall of Fame case.

And now, the links…

Stick to baseball, 5/6/17.

Smart Baseball is out! Buy it here or at any local bookstore. It’s available in the US and Canada, in print, ebook, and audiobook forms. I have inquired about distribution elsewhere in the world but I can only report that we’re looking into it and nothing is imminent.

My one piece for Insiders this week covered the very limited market for Eric Hosmer this upcoming winter, given his lack of production and how few teams have openings at first or DH. I held a Klawchat, a bit shorter than normal, on Thursday.

I did an interview with the folks behind the Pocket bookmarketing app, and appeared on the public radio program AirTalk, both to talk about Smart Baseball. I also spoke with ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap on his radio show The Sporting Life.

* Anti-vaxxers have targeted Somali immigrants in Minnesota and caused a measles outbreak there. While I understand that we try not to criminalize speech here, how is this – claiming vaccines cause autism, a bad hypothesis fully debunked by science – any different than shouting “fire” in a crowded theater, causing needless panic and great public harm? (And yes, the Holmes quote is itself problematic, and he started walking it back almost immediately.) And why do we permit Wakefield to operate in the U.S.? We could easily deny him entry; he’s a greater threat to the broader population than suspected Islamic militants.

* George Will dropped two strong columns this past week for the Washington Post. The one you might have seen says the President has “a dangerous disability” and calls him unfit for office. The one you might have missed argues for repealing the mortgage interest tax deduction, which costs the US government about $100 billion annually in foregone revenues. This is an unpopular and controversial proposal; passing it would cause a one-time hit to housing prices and put many people underwater on their loans. But the exemption amounts to a regressive tax, and at the very least we should limit such deductions to primary residences (not second or third houses).

* Will’s column about the President came a few days after the vulgar talking yam was inconsistent and even incoherent after a long day of interviews. Remember when he questioned whether Hillary Clinton would have the stamina to be President? That was fun.

* Dion Walters of the Miami Heat wrote a hilarious and poignant piece for the Players Tribune at the end of April, which I missed because it went up the day Smart Baseball was released.

* NPR wrote about northerners flying the Confederate flag while openly denying that it is a racist symbol that stood for and will always stand for slavery. If one of my neighbors put one up outside his house and refused to remove it, I’d take it down by force. It’s no better than flying a flag with a swastika.

* While driving around southern California this week, I spent a lot of time listening to the indispensable NPR One app, which brought me some great stories and several episodes of a new podcast, The Grift, which I highly recommend. Two stories I liked enough to share: how the autocratic state government in Texas is destroying local government powers, and on the development of the Cosmic Crisp apple in Washington, which might be the next big hit apple with consumers.

* An epidemiologist explains why science is never perfect – that studies nearly always have some sort of flaws or biases, but that those don’t invalidate the results or make the studies worthless (a common claim of deniers like anti-vaxxers).

* How’s this for a bad headline. Something called the “Washington Free Beacon” wrote that a Democratic Congressional candidate in Montana said climate change deniers should kill themselves. What he actually said: “If any those of you that feel like this is not a problem, I challenge you to go into your car in your garage, start your car, and see what happens there.” This is obviously a ham-handed and scientifically weak attempt to point out the effects of burning fossil fuels on our atmosphere. But hey, gotta get dem clicks.

* ThinkProgress’ Lindsay Gibbs weighs in on the myth that ESPN is “liberal” simply because we argue against domestic violence or discrimination.

* Speaking of which, those liberal firebrands at Consumer Reports write that the Affordable Care Act led to a decline in personal bankruptcies.

* Someone in Russia is blinding Putin’s opponents with chemical attacks. It can’t happen here, though, right?

* You’ve probably seen the outrage among scientists that the New York Times hired a climate-change denier, Bret Stephens, in the name of “balance.” Did you also catch their publication of a bogus story on “alternative” medicine? Remember: There is no “alternative” medicine. If it works, it’s medicine. Otherwise, it’s bullshit.

* The passage of the AHCA, with many Congresspersons voting for it against the wishes of their constituents, has led to some direct financial results already:

* The Washington Post explains why that organic milk you bought might not be organic. The USDA’s organic labeling program has been a total failure, one of many examples where that agency has raised costs and wasted taxpayer money with no benefit to consumers. FWIW, I do buy organic milk because I want to support antibiotic-free husbandry, and “organic” is a fair proxy for that, but I don’t think the claimed health benefits of milk from grass-fed cows are proven.

* The James Beard Restaurant/Chef Awards are out! The winners include former Top Chef contestant Sarah Grueneberg, who won Best Chef: Great Lakes; her restaurant, Monteverde, provided one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten when I visited last July.

* This piece exhorting us to stop using public wifi networks makes sense, but is not terribly practical. Mobile data remains expensive and can’t match wifi speeds. The solution would seem to lie in making such networks more secure for most uses – although logging into your bank or credit card accounts on those networks will always be a bad idea.

* A new bill in Hawai’i’s legislature is essentially a sweetheart giveaway of state land rights to private tenants.

* Author/writer/Twitter wit Kelly Oxford discusses coming to terms with her panic disorder in an excerpt from her new book, When You Find Out the World Is Against You: And Other Funny Memories About Awful Moments.

* The Atlantic‘s Conor Friedersdorf argues that smugness isn’t a liberal characteristic, but a universal one. People at either extreme can veer into condescension of those with opposing views. Of course, the targets of condescension may have earned such disdain if they’re spouting conspiracy theories or outright falsehoods; treating cranks with respect isn’t going to accomplish anything either.

* If you live in Florida and believe convicted felons who have completed their jail terms should regain their rights to vote – as they would in 40 other states – there is a petition you can sign and group you can join to try to help make that a reality.