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When The Planes Become Available, With Maitreyi Anantharaman

Caitlin Clark disputing a call during her first WNBA game, a loss to the Connecticut Sun at Mohegan Sun Arena on May 14, 2024,
Elsa/Getty Images

At some level, every guest who comes onto the podcast is getting the same experience, which is roughly that of being trapped in the middle seat between Drew and me on a short and moderately bumpy flight. How that plays out depends, more or less, on that week's level of turbulence and what kind of snacks/treats they're giving out. This week, our own Maitreyi Anantharaman had the lucky ticket, and so was subjected to both the usual experience—mild turbulence, decent snack service, an on-time arrival—and something like a literalization of what it's like to be a women's basketball fan at this moment of promise and hype, as two enthusiastic lummoxes with an eager novice's understanding of women's basketball grilled her on just what exactly is going on over there.

It might be that she was feeling magnanimous after having survived a near-death experience thanks to a Spencer Torkelson homer—the action starts around 1:14 here, and we discussed it—or it might just be that she's a nice person, but either way she was very gracious about being hectored by her two idiot blog-uncles on this matter. It surely helped, too, that Maitreyi really knows how to answer these kinds of questions—her WNBA preview is proof of this—and that this really is an exciting if somewhat uneasy time to be a women's basketball fan. The WNBA's recent infusion of star power and generational talent is exciting in its own right, but this is also a league that appears, belatedly and somewhat haltingly, to be accepting its status as a major league, or at least as a league whose players deserve to fly charter. So we talked about basketball stuff, from running down the league's best and most interesting teams, to forcing Maitreyi to talk about the dreaded Connecticut Sun, to Maitreyi's vibes-based assessment of Cameron Brink's actual height, but also the future of a league that seems poised to make some kind of leap or other.

Also, because Maitreyi is a member of our staff's Michigan Caucus and because the NHL playoffs are going on at this moment, we also touched on Maitreyi's adopted Vancouver Canucks. Which is to say that we talked about how someone comes to adopt literally the damn Vancouver Canucks as their preferred team, the strange things that have reliably happened to this franchise, and also a little bit about the team's postseason run behind a white-hot third-string goalie whose name the team has not always spelled correctly. By the time we'd concluded the Canucks portion of the podcast, we had already been notified to put our seat-backs and tray tables in the upright and locked position, and after one question about best practices in dealing with success as a sports fan we'd landed. Maitreyi may want to spring for an aisle seat next time, but all in all I found it a very enjoyable trip.

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