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Frisk Max Scherzer If You Dare, With Kelsey McKinney

Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals is inspected on the mound by umpire Tim Timmons during a June game.
Rich Schultz/Getty Images

I have been reading Drew Magary’s writing for much longer than I’ve actually known him, and I have spent enough years talking to him on various podcasts that I generally have a sense of where he’s going. This is not to say that I know his mind, because I very much do not. There are things in there—completely imaginary Ratt songs that he knows all the words to, extremely nuanced opinions about like D.J. Dozier and Jim Kleinsasser, nightmares untold and unknown—that I cannot and do not want to know. These horrors are his.

It is more to say that I knew, just given how things generally go in conversation with The Big Fella, that there would be some high-voltage “It’s comin’ home” activity in this podcast, and that it would happen when I wasn’t expecting it, and that it would all be decently unsettling whenever it came. This was correct, as it turns out, but also a person can at least prepare for this. But I, and Kelsey as well, did not expect Drew to ask us about our respective relationships to our respective deities. This is how he gets you. This is why he’s Drew.

To be fair, Drew did not steer into Dishwalla territory without some justification. Kelsey’s new novel God Spare The Girls deals with evangelical faith and evangelical culture, and Kelsey’s experience with both informs the story she tells. And after getting both Kelsey and I on the record vis-a-vis our thoughts on faith and God, we did discuss other and (perhaps inevitably) lighter stuff. Kelsey discussed the highs and lows of writing (and promoting) a damn novel, and the challenges of making art out of variously bitter personal experience. I talked about how I found Hebrew school “disappointing in retrospect.” Her stuff was a lot more interesting.

And there was some discussion of sports, too. It turned out that it wasn’t even a very difficult transition to go from talking about about a culture of secret desperation and the contrast between public piety and private calculation to talking about about Major League Baseball and its powerfully oafish and predictably cynical approach to managing the goofy plague of sticky stuff in the sport. A conversation about the newly liberated earning power of college athletes vested with the right to their own images turned, as it invariably would, back to the damn Texas Longhorns. A Funbag question about the best music to play at sporting events led to me imitating the dirty wedding song from The Godfather that the Mets inexplicably but delightfully play during the seventh-inning stretch. Drew described himself as “thick, a thick person” in addressing a Funbag question about what kind of basketball career we might’ve enjoyed had we been born into 7-foot bodies. The Funbag was lighter on toilet stuff than usual, although we did consider the question of what Joe Biden reads on the john and I was able to debut my long-anticipated Whispery Joe voice. Everyone indulged what needed indulging.

This is what it means, I think, to do a podcast together—a series of happy hijackings, back and forth for an hour or so, punctuated by various loud noises and extremely C-minus accents. Knowing what’s coming doesn’t make its arrival any less welcome, or really even any less surprising. You know you’re going to get hijacked, but also that you’re in good hands.

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