Stick to baseball, 10/21/17.

I wrote two scouting posts for Insiders from my week in the Arizona Fall League, which you can read here and here. I also held a Klawchat on Thursday.

I reviewed the card/dice game Valeria and its new expansion here on Friday; my next boardgame review for Paste will go up in early November. I also posted about a big boardgame app sale going on right now from Asmodee Digital.

The schedule for PAX Unplugged, a new boardgaming con to be held in Philadelphia in November, is now up. I’ll be signing copies of Smart Baseball there on November 18th and plan to attend the entire event.

And now, the links…

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, 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.