Right up to the moment that the broader enterprise was slammed decisively into cryosleep by the expiration of its Collective Bargaining Agreement, Major League Baseball was having a busy and frankly delightful offseason. Some of this was the function of teams trying to jam an entire offseason’s worth of activity into the few weeks before the cold, dull months of testy inactivity and arcane negotiation that lie ahead. But a lot of it was the business of baseball working as well as it ever works.
Teams, including somehow the Texas Rangers, spent a bunch of money on star free agents or took calculated chances on less prominent ones. In the place of actual baseball there was at least speculation, in every sense, which was at least better than nothing. And then there was Rob Manfred lifelessly working his way through faintly Frank Luntz-scented messaging about the owners’ “defensive lockout.” A properly hectic baseball offseason was quite suddenly something that felt and sounded like a particularly dispiriting Congressional campaign.
It will suck for a while as owners try every feasible avenue to extract maximum wealth and exact maximum punishment on the players, who are in point of fact both the league’s labor and its product. Awful as this is, though, it is interesting to talk about, or easy to get angry at. We invited Lindsey Adler, former Deadspin comrade and current Yankees beat ace at The Athletic, to talk to us about all that, and then proceeded to talk about dogs for quite some time.
If you were familiar with Lindsey’s completely demented dog, you’d sure opt to talk about that instead of baseball. But we did eventually talk about baseball: the challenges of covering a team like the Yankees in a moment like this one, but also the broader deranging effect of caring about baseball at this moment of unparalleled executive cynicism and abstraction, both within the sport itself and the broader culture. As so many conversations tend to do in this moment, all that specific unease eventually opened onto the more general and infuriating question of how to conceive of and deal with effectively unlimited personal wealth. It was a good conversation, because Lindsey has thought about it a lot and was good at expressing those thoughts. Because this podcast is not a visual medium, our listeners sadly will have to take my word for it that her dog sat in her lap pretty much the entire time, periodically looking up at her as if to say “Wow, really incisive point you made about the pitfalls of an expanded postseason. Now may I have a damn treat?”
Once we solved the baseball conundrum, it was on to the dumb stuff. Drew’s Guy Of The Week was someone who took his last big-league at-bat before Lindsey was born, but we still talked about the lost nickname renaissance of the 1980s. After that, we ripped cannonball after cannonball into the fetid bog of The Funbag. Lindsey delivered a heartfelt recommendation for The Farthest, a PBS documentary series about NASA’s inspiring Voyager mission. We considered the classic debate topic of God Vs. Aliens; I used the phrase “showing feet” in reference to a divine being, which is something that will surely have dire consequences for me down the line should that divine being become aware of this podcast. The question of what Presidents of the United States do with all the vanity jerseys they receive from championship teams visiting the White House was addressed. Lindsey also made sure that the word “cheugy” made its long-awaited Distraction debut, although I won’t tell you when, where, or how.
Finally, as Drew mentioned early in the ‘cast, some tickets and an unlimited number of livestream slots are available for the live Distraction we’ll be doing at Caveat in Manhattan next Wednesday night, on Dec. 8, with acclaimed real estate pervert and beloved coworker Kelsey McKinney. If you are in New York City and can make it out, we hope you will join us; if you are not or cannot, we still hope you can do that. Both of those can be purchased here. I will bring enough crappy trading cards to make sure that every listener who turns up gets a highly collectible bookmark for their trouble. That’s how much I’m looking forward to it, and also how many crappy trading cards are in my home.
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