I am by nature a pretty good party guest and an extremely reluctant party host. But with Drew on vacation and baseball season—or, anyway, the 2021 version of it that is played in swirling snow squalls and miniature COVID outbreaks—officially here, it was on me to host this episode of The Distraction. So I whipped up some canapés, nothing fancy, and invited Defector EIC Tom Ley and FanGraphs managing editor Meg Rowley to join me in a weird narrow hallway near the bathroom and talk baseball.
Was it an entirely natural movement for me? Friends, it was not. I kept having to re-pipe salmon mousse onto my blinis, and also I am used to having our big honking anchor holding everything together. I was distressed enough at the since-resolved stalemate between the Mets and Francisco Lindor that there are a few minutes of the podcast where my personal interior monologue becomes notably, audibly exterior. But baseball, stupid and terrible and great as it is, makes for good talkin’, and Meg is an exceptionally knowledgeable and pleasant guest, and it turned out Tom had been sitting on some resonant stories about watching Vinny Castilla drill brews in an Arizona TGI Friday’s.
It is not an exceptionally orderly season preview. But in a sport where only a third of the teams are demonstrably trying, and which currently features more avant-garde rich-guy executive fuckery than anyone would deem advisable or safe, some lower-key conversational chaos and a few trips down inviting cul-de-sacs seems appropriate. Baseball is just kind of like this. If there’s room during an average game for side conversations about Arizona’s adventures in pandemic management and where to eat in the worst city in Florida, then there should be room for them in a baseball podcast as well. This will likely not surprise longtime listeners or those otherwise familiar with my whole thing, but the Guy Of The Week segment on proto-Brewers Guy Jeff Cirillo wound up going in some interesting directions, and was briefly an interesting meditation on the challenge of adding more stylistic variation to an increasingly monochromatic game, before Tom and I ruined it by talking in Trumpy phrasings. For what I believe is the first time in my career doing these things, I earnestly advised a Funbag correspondent to “follow your heart,” mostly as a way of sending the message that one is never obligated to cheer for the Cincinnati Bengals.
I considered bringing back The Mashup, but did not. When Drew returns, it will remain exiled, until a suitably special occasion arises. One could argue that Opening Day is such an occasion, but Drew is on vacation and I am the host and this is not that kind of party. Enjoy the gougeres and keep your complaints to yourself.
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