Some people listen to the radio or their iTunes library on their way to work in the morning. I usually turn to podcasts, and most often, they’re shows that focus on baseball (though “The Dollop“ is informative, hilarious, and I highly recommend that, too).
Since spring training is in full force, it seems like a good time to make suggestions about the best podcasts to download. There are plenty of shows out there, and it can sometimes be difficult parsing through them if you’re trying to get into podcasts. Having listened to an inordinate amount of baseball podcasts though, I feel like I’m in the position to make some suggestions for those interested (aside from our own Pinstripe Alley Podcast, of course, which is coming up on episode 100).
It is absolutely unbelievable how many episodes have been made of “Effectively Wild.” The show dates back to 2012, when Ringer writer Ben Lindbergh was still editor-in-chief of Baseball Prospectus. For 1,000 episodes, he co-hosted with Sam Miller, a BP author who later succeeded Lindbergh as BP EIC before moving on to ESPN. Miller just recently stepped away from the show, but FanGraphs writer (and SBN alum) Jeff Sullivan has been a terrific replacement. The show itself has also relocated from BP to FanGraphs, though that hasn’t really changed anything.
The show has terrific banter, inspired a book, tremendous insight into the game, and features three episodes per week. It also doesn’t require its listeners to go back and listen to the insanely long backlog—you can just jump in right now. It’s actually a pretty good time since Sullivan is only about 25 episodes in and they’re in the midst of doing team previews (the Yankees are coming up relatively soon), in addition to a weekly e-mail show. If you were to pick one show out of all these to listen to, make it EW. (iTunes)
ASIDE: Lindbergh also hosts the very good Ringer MLB Show with Michael Baumann because he apparently never sleeps. It’s more technical and interview-based than EW, but it’s a regular listen for me, too.
30 With Murti
If you’re looking for another Yankees-focused podcast, WFAN’s Sweeny Murti has you covered. Having been around the team for over 15 years, Murti is a familiar voice for fans, and the shows feature Murti interviewing a person per week. As the title implies, the podcasts are typically only about half an hour each, so they don’t take too much time, either.
Yankees fans are well-aware that Murti is a trusted source of great information, and he really knows what he’s doing in interviews. This show will probably kick into gear around Opening Day since that’s when he began it in 2016, though there could very well be a season preview sometime later in March. Check it out when it starts up again. (iTunes)
The Cespedes Family Barbecast
This one might be ending soon, so jump aboard while you can.
College students Jake Mintz and Jordan Shusterman created this show right before they started school in 2013, and they have now logged 105 episodes in the bank as they near graduation this year. Since they will almost certainly enter the real world soon (probably working in baseball in some capacity, if I were to guess), the show can only go on for so long.
They should at least be around for most of 2017 though, and what you get are regular listener e-mail answers, interviews with legitimately amusing writers and minor leaguers, and the weekly Baseball Reference name battle. They pick ridiculous names from old baseball times (they used to do three per show) and present their odd backstories to the audience. That’s the highlight for me. The shows are long, but if you’re preparing for a road trip, flight, or simply listening at work, they are great ways to pass the time. (iTunes)
This is not specifically a baseball podcast, but it is the favorite sport of the two hosts, longtime writer Joe Posnanski and “Fire Joe Morgan” mastermind Michael Schur, aka Ken Tremendous, so it’s often the topic. There is a very good chance that you know Schur more as the man heavily involved in a number of the best comedies to hit television over the past decade: The Office, Parks & Recreation, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and The Good Place.
Posnanski and Schur have a terrific and funny rapport, and the highlight of the shows are the random drafts about basically pointless things. (Sometimes it’s best World Series games, and sometimes it’s road signs. Wait, stay with me.) They do talk about baseball a lot though, so it’s worth mentioning here, even if they hate the Yankees. Their distaste is done in an entertaining fashion though, and there is no better example than when they both mourned the realization that Gary Sanchez was going to now torture their lives. Due to their busy schedules, there can sometimes be long breaks between episodes, but when they come around, they are amazing. (iTunes)
Up And In
This is going to take an investment and a bit of a reach, but it is extremely worth it. This show ended four and a half years ago, but it ran for 101 episodes and featured two Baseball Prospectus prospect writers who now work in baseball—Astros pro scouting director Kevin Goldstein and Cubs scout/special assistant Jason Parks.
All of the episodes were roughly two hours each and had a remarkable amount of scouting intel that is still hard to find anywhere else. The numbers have evolved in baseball over the years, but scouting often searches for timeless tells in a player, and not only did both Goldstein and Parks have sharp eyes, but they were willing to share with an audience as well. They answered e-mails every show, did long interviews with people in the game, and the traditional “What are you drinking?” segment.
They never took the show too seriously, so the conversations are easy to listen to, but the episodes were truly a font of information. Just as an example, here’s a one-minute excerpt of them talking about Gary Sanchez when he was quite young and demonstrating some serious power on the backfields. It’s fascinating to hear about active players who were prospects then, and what the two thought of them. Give it a try sometime. (iTunes)