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Baseball As Antidepressant, With Albert Burneko And Kelsey McKinney

Shohei Otani, seen in this image keeping a positive approach near the Distraction logo.
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Drew is, of course, entitled to go on vacation with his family. I am his friend and want him to be happy, and I want his family to be happy. And while I know that the first part is a physical impossibility, I hope he returns from his vacation tanned and happy. That said, when Drew goes on vacation he goes on vacation, which means that his podcast hosting duties fall to me, and things get weird. I am not by nature a host, and I am less adept at facilitating conversation in the way that Drew does than I am at steering whatever conversation might be happening at any given moment back in the direction of, like, Exorcist III: Legion or the National League East or the sandwiches at Mama’s in Corona or one of the other three or four things that I am ever thinking about.

And yet the fact of the matter is the man is on vacation, and so I tried to fight my tendencies—to fight my very nature as an idiot—in steering this week’s episode. It is probably best if you think of my two guests, Albert Burneko and Kelsey McKinney, as each having one of those backup steering wheels they put in driver’s ed cars, so that they could periodically keep me from driving, babbling all the while, into a ditch.

While a relatively slow sports week in April guaranteed that I was tempted by The Call Of The Ditch, I think we mostly managed to stay out of the ditch. What you will find, in this slightly shaggier than usual episode, is a spirited or anyway only mildly melancholy discussion of baseball as it functions as a curative to the seasonal-affective elements of depression, and also some only mildly curmudgeonly discussion of the changing aesthetics of the game. I also took the opportunity to ask Kelsey about the meteoric rise of Normal Gossip, the extremely good and extremely popular podcast that she hosts, and how becoming America’s Gossip Buddy has changed her life—and made her voicemail hilariously unworkable. The amount of work that goes into making a podcast that is this fizzy and fun remains both inspiring and kind of exhausting.

From there, we considered the latest bit of trouble in which Washington owner and supreme billionaire sloplord Daniel Snyder has lately found himself and mostly the broader impossibility of accountability for people as rich and shameless as him. As with most Snyder-related conversations, this opens onto the conversation of whether there really is anything that could puncture the toxic but extremely resilient solidarity that defines the NFL ownership caste. It was less despairing than I am making it sound, improbably, and we pulled out of it by remembering Denard Span, and his role in the ultimate palate cleanser: The Michael Cuddyer Spring Training Close-Up Card Magic Video.

The Funbag was a study in contrasts, with a serious attempt to address and remedy the unpleasant experience of getting harangued with unrequested political opinions by salty boomers in professional settings, and a possibly even more serious defense of Girl Scout cookies against their many jealous haters. It was, by the end, more or less like a normal episode of the podcast. I was comfortable enough, by the time we said goodbye, that I almost felt like a guest myself.

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