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Hostile Vibes At Comic Con, With Justin Halpern

A cosplayer dressed as Dude Vader outside the San Diego Comic Con.
Daniel Knighton/Getty Images

I am sorry if this sounds like bragging, but last night I watched the top three women discus throwers in the world do their thing on USA Network. I have no regrets about this one way or another; the World Athletics Championships reliably deliver compelling proof that, at the highest level, the "field" events in track-and-field events are indistinguishable from magic. This is not the sort of thing that I would ordinarily do when at loose ends and in control of the remote, but yesterday was just about the slowest day on the sports calendar—there was one WNBA game on the schedule, in the afternoon, and then the ESPYs some time later—and there was only so much on offer. What else was I supposed to do, think about regular season baseball?

That is not a rhetorical question, by the way. In the bleaching heat and inconsequence of highest summer, and in the absence of anything else of note, the mind naturally turns to regular season baseball and then quickly turns to something else. Guy's Grocery Games or whatever, it's not important. Just...something else. Drew and I marked the arrival of this season by bringing back ace guest and TV maestro Justin Halpern to discuss some baseball, when we felt like it, and whatever else was on our minds, when we felt like that.

What did that sound like, over the course of 48 minutes? Sort of like what this moment feels like, only without the dread and with more reliable air conditioning. Justin's journeys in show business—he and his team will surely win some awards for Abbott Elementary, and deserve it—make for some good stories, and he continues to do invaluable work in his longstanding role as the culture's foremost ambassador of The San Diego Mindset. He knows baseball pretty well, too, but this is the heaviest stretch of July and prognosticating on the Wild Card prospects of the San Diego Padres and the multiply dispiriting Juan Soto trade marketplace can only get a person, or a podcast, so far.

And so, while we did that particular bit of prognosticating, we were pulled repeatedly in the direction of stupider stuff—San Diego's openly hostile relationship with Comic Con's annual invasion of elite nerdlingers; the visual hazards of homemade cosplay outfits; what it is like to serve up a massive homer to a George Wendt-shaped man in a semipro game in Tijuana. There was also some decently passionate discourse on how baseball might market itself if any of the people in charge of it liked the sport at all, the Yankees' secret metric for identifying Italian-American prospects, and a heartfelt disquisition into The Willians Astudillo Situation circa now. I talked about my beloved Alejandro Kirk and it wasn't even that gratuitous, although by now it has hopefully been established that the seasonal standard for gratuitousness is pretty low.

We had so much fun doing all this, as it happens, that we barely got to open the Funbag, though thankfully we were able to sneak in our assessments of how we'd do if forced to carjack someone while running from the law. I realize how all this sounds. I will just encourage you to look out the window, or at a calendar. We could do nothing else.

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