There’s a genre of guy on Twitter who mainly uses the platform to tweet things like SHOHEI OHTANI OPPO TACO 421 FEET, attached to a video clip of a Shohei Ohtani home run posted by someone else. In this respect, Ben Verlander, Fox Sports MLB analyst and host of the podcast Flippin’ Bats, is not unique. This kind of presence is a little obnoxious although inoffensive, but I don’t know if it’s particularly bringing something fresh to the table. But the editors at The Athletic found young Ben’s voice notable enough to merit a profile. Finally, there’s an answer to the question of how the younger brother of longtime major-league pitcher Justin Verlander found his way into baseball media.
I’ll admit that I went into this profile expecting to be annoyed at how it would surely gloss over the very obvious connection that could have helped spur Verlander’s rise, and oh boy did it sure do that. But after reading the third or fourth anecdote that could have just as easily described the actions of a Golden Retriever who just heard the word “outside,” I decided that the whole thing was just way too silly to be upset about. For example:
Verlander’s bosses wanted him to do a little writing, a little video, a little audio. Much of it was working backward: taking Verlander’s passion and figuring out how to convey it to the audience. That came with some learning. Verlander, for instance, had never really written an article before. He turned in a preview of the Dodgers-Rays World Series with the story constructed more like a five-paragraph essay from an English class.
“There was an introduction, a body and a conclusion,” Verlander said. “The editor reached out and was like, ‘Good material, we’ll have to work on this a little bit.’”
This bit of information is further enhanced by the fact that Verlander’s colleagues apparently like to refer to him as “BPG,” which stands for Big Positivity Guy. There’s also the matter of his goosebumps:
Bucklin knew all this when he met Verlander at a hotel in Marina Del Rey sometime in the summer of 2020. But what happened in that interview really made clear Verlander was different from anyone else Bucklin would find.
“He goes, ‘I just love baseball. This is crazy, but look at this,’” Bucklin said. “He just picks up his arm, and the entire arm is covered in goosebumps.”
Bucklin immediately thought: This guy is either a great actor, or he’s really in love with the game.
Fantastic. How can you be mad at a guy who loves baseball so dang much that he gets goosebumps when thinking about it? When you watch one of those videos from The Dodo, about a shy dog who really came out of its shell after finding its forever home, do you get grumpy at the dog?