Effectively Wild, Pocket, Jonah Keri: “Things I Like” Thursday

Oprah had her favorite things. Mine are objectively better.

The meaning of “Like” has been unfortunately co-opted by Facebook and Instagram. Now we like everything, including a high school acquaintance writing that her grandpa passed away. We must re-capture “Like.”

So every other Thursday, I will recommend three things that I like and think you should check out as well. I’ll steer clear of recommendations like, “Hey, have you heard about this Guardians of the Galaxy movie?” or “I’ve been trying out this service called Uber…” Both make more money than Satan’s rich father (a noted Wall Street executive), so they don’t need my help.

The goal is (A) to refer you to media items of quality, which is always a good idea, and (B) encourage an environment in which more people advocate for what they enjoy. The recent layoffs of writers from The Score and Sports on Earth remind me that just because something is well-done doesn’t mean it is garnering an audience. Let’s spend a little less time railing about what we hate and a little more time sharing what we love. It’s the only way a meritocracy will work.

On to the things I like, Part 1!

Effectively Wild: The Daily Baseball Prospectus Podcast (LINK)

Effectively Wild PodcastGod bless the no-doubt-sleep-deprived hosts of Effectively Wild, Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller. They not only turn out 35-minute podcasts (give or take) every weekday, they both produce some of the best baseball writing on the web and run a stellar website at Baseball Prospectus (Lindbergh is the former editor-in-chief, Miller is the current one).

Problem is, much of Miller’s great content is behind the BP paywall. The site’s pieces are well worth the $40 per year subscription, but I understand if you can’t put the money together for it. Lindbergh is now at Grantland full-time (though he stole $800 from me), so all his stuff is free. And I’m thankful the podcast is continuing after his departure from the site.

As a daily podcast, Effectively Wild functions as a discussion of the headline stories and trends in baseball that smart fans should care about. The two come at the stories from a mostly analytical perspective, but they are also journalists who know a lot about MLB’s inner workings. I learn new things about the game every time I listen. Their recent podcast on “How to Hire a GM” was particularly insightful.

Listening to the show is like having two dry, intelligent friends who have great baseball discussions every day. Check out the RSS feed or iTunes listing, and I’m sure you will find a topic that piques your interest.

Pocket (LINK)

Pocket App LogoIf you’re like me, change your life and habits immediately you spend a lot of time on Twitter. I follow many great writers, one of whom is mentioned in the following section, and I need a way to organize all of the pieces of theirs I want to read.

Enter Pocket. There are several good article-bookmarking apps out there; maybe you’ve heard of Instapaper. But I like Pocket best, plus it is free. There are apps for iOS and Android devices, Chrome and Mac plus GetPocket.com. LifeHacker has detailed the features further.

Mostly, I save links using Tweetbot (Pocket service is integrated to the app) and the Chrome extension, Then I use the iPhone app or website to read the stories that I have bookmarked. My reading list is always packed with content, and I feel as though I am reading more quality pieces than ever before.

The killer feature: offline saving, to read articles on airplanes and subway trains. Beautiful.

Jonah Keri (LINK)

Jonah Keri Extra 2%My only problem with using Pocket is that I have hundreds of saved articles, many probably fantastic, that I will just never get to reading. There are too many good writers and too much good writing out there that even I, an unemployed insomniac, can’t consume it all.

Still, I try to make time for pieces from a few choice writers. One of these is Jonah Keri. If you’re unfamiliar, Keri writes standout baseball stories for Grantland, including the unmatched series The 30 examining particularly interesting aspects of a few MLB teams each week. His background as a financial journalist shows in his firm grasp of baseball numbers and analytics, but his writing style teems with a love for the game and sharp Canadian sense of humor.

Keri also authored the indispensable Baseball Between the Numbers as well as The Extra 2% about the Tampa Bay Rays. The latter is my favorite baseball book of the last five years, a must-read for newbies wondering how all these fancy baseball stats can possibly lead to winning ballgames. Up next, his new Montreal Expos book Up, Up, and Away (along with your kiss) is on my list.

If you can’t commit to reading one of his books, I recommend his Grand Theft Baseball piece, an award-winner for good reason. Keri is the baseball writer I want to be.