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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Will Leitch: Listen with Love…ESPN Baseball Tonight podcast

“and it was 100 percent John Kruk-free.” To strive, to seek, to find, too late…

Last week, the ESPN Baseball Today podcast turned itself into the ESPN Baseball Tonight podcast. The difference was far more substantial than a few hours time difference. (Actually, the Baseball Tonight podcast is posted earlier than the Baseball Today podcast, which’ll blow your mind if you start to think about it.)

ESPN’s Baseball Today was hosted by ESPN fantasy expert Eric Karabell and featured, primarily, senior baseball writer for ESPN Insider Keith Law and ESPN Stats & Information’s Baseball Research Specialist Mark Simon. The podcast has gone through several incarnations hosted by Karabell, from fun co-hosts like Peter Pascarelli—who reportedly lost his gig because he insulted Bud Selig—to less-than-fun ones like Seth Everett, but with those three, they’d finally found the right formula. Basically, Baseball Today featured three smart baseball fans talking about baseball in an accessible, intelligent and entertaining way. (Law, in particular, was a standout; I’m a huge fan of pretty much everything Law does.) It was sabermetrically friendly, it was logical and straightforward and it was 100 percent John Kruk-free. If you hadn’t known any better, you wouldn’t have thought it an ESPN production at all.

It was, of course, too beautiful to live. Karbell announced last week that the show would be ending, to be replaced by “ESPN Baseball Tonight,” a riff on the ESPN program that once featured Tim Kurkjian and Jayson Stark having a nightly celebration of our greatest game but now features Aaron Boone, Nomar Garciaparra, Curt Schilling and other former athletes snapping towels at each other. The new show is hosted by Buster Olney, a veteran reporter who nevertheless spends more of his time telling us what Stephen Strasburg had for dinner before Jordan Zimmermann’s wedding or asking “Krukie” to tell his favorite spring training stories, ho ho, than talking much baseball. The show has its positives—Olney runs through the biggest stories of the day in the same breezy fashion as his daily must-read Web column, and the first ever-show briefly featured Olney, Krukjian and Stark all talking shop, like the old days—but it’s not the same as the old Baseball Today podcast. It doesn’t feel like a podcast at all: It feels like a television program, only without video.

Repoz Posted: February 14, 2013 at 06:13 AM | 46 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: media

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   1. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: February 14, 2013 at 07:23 AM (#4369337)
This is a bummer if only because the Karbell-led podcast was the only decent podcast on baseball of which I was aware. My favorite sports podcasts are the Basketball Jones, Hang Up and Listen, and the occasional BS Report. Are there any other good sports podcasts? I would love to find out more.
   2. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 14, 2013 at 07:31 AM (#4369338)
If you like soccer, the Guardian's Football Weekly is very good.

But there isn't much out there, from what I've been able to see.
   3. Tim Wallach was my Hero Posted: February 14, 2013 at 08:45 AM (#4369346)
As a diehard baseball fan from Canada who does not own a TV and really could not care less about the Jays, I get most of my baseball news from here and, up until recently, from Baseball Today podcast. Olney's podcast is exactly what Leitch says it is: it's tv on the radio. Simon and Klaw have both contributed to the new podcast, but the way their interventions were edited just sucked the life out of anything they said. I'll keep listening, but I don't know for how long. I'm actually so disapointed my wife asked me last night what was wrong with me...
   4. 'Spos lost the handle trying to make the transfer Posted: February 14, 2013 at 09:07 AM (#4369358)
I'm giving it 'til the end of Spring Training, but it does have a certain airlessness that doesn't bode very well.
   5. bobm Posted: February 14, 2013 at 09:31 AM (#4369370)
The new show is hosted by Buster Olney, a veteran reporter who nevertheless spends more of his time telling us what Stephen Strasburg had for dinner before Jordan Zimmermann’s wedding or asking “Krukie” to tell his favorite spring training stories, ho ho, than talking much baseball.


Kruk has a face for podcasts.
   6. Flynn Posted: February 14, 2013 at 09:33 AM (#4369371)
I'm not giving it a chance, it will suck. why waste my time? It;s a shame as like Tim, I mainly followed baseball through Baseball Today since so many games are played when I'm asleep. It was a one-stop shop for the big issues that kept me reasonably informed on what was happening outside my favorite teams.

The two best soccer podcasts are Football Weekly and the Football Ramble. Everything else is distinctly second-rate.
   7. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: February 14, 2013 at 09:45 AM (#4369378)
I'll add my vote that Football Weekly is fantastic.

I think part of my frustration with baseball podcasts is I know the game well enough and follow it so closely that I find I'm not getting a lot of interesting insight. That's probably my failing more than others though. It's why I want Clubhouse Confidential as a podcast. I find it to be pretty interesting but rarely get to see it.
   8. Jorge Luis Bourjos (Walewander) Posted: February 14, 2013 at 09:56 AM (#4369385)

Add me to the group of people who loved Baseball Today, know of no other baseball podcast that's even close to as good, and is very disappointed about how they ESPNed this up.
   9. The_Ex Posted: February 14, 2013 at 10:11 AM (#4369391)
The old Baseball Today was two shows in one. You had Karabell and Law being opinionated or Simon giving the sabermetric perspective. But it was different from what you got elsewhere. The new show is not different, it's reporters giving the consensus view and reporting on what execs, managers and players say.

There used to be two excellent baseball podcasts, Baseball Today and Up and In from BP. Now both are gone, there is a gap in the market.

For football I like Men in Blazers from Grantland.
   10. JRVJ Posted: February 14, 2013 at 10:29 AM (#4369406)
I like (and listen) to Effectively Wild.

I like (and listen to when it's on) Rany and Joe.

I truly miss Up and In, and am already starting to miss Baseball Today.

Baseball Tonight hasn't done it for me YET, but it's only 3 shows in. A little TOO early to disregard it.
   11. Eric Ferguson Posted: February 14, 2013 at 10:30 AM (#4369408)
As always, I'll pipe up for Colt Cabana's Art of Wrestling podcast. STEAGLES can back me up on this.
   12. Der-K thinks the Essex Green were a good band. Posted: February 14, 2013 at 10:30 AM (#4369409)
Trying Rosters and Rumblings for the first time right now. Sound quality issues are distracting, not sure that they're going to tell me much I don't already know.

I subscribe to the Baseball America podcasts (their most recent one had a healthy discussion on whether the Astros have gone too far in their teardown/rebuild - a subject of a recent thread here as well). They often focus on things many here won't care about (minors, college), but are worth a listen.
   13. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 14, 2013 at 10:35 AM (#4369412)
I listen to Hang Up and Listen and the BS Report (really only the segment with Cousin Sal during NFL season, or if he has an interesting guest like Nate Silver).

I tried to make it through a Fangraphs podcast but it was so unpolished it was unlistenable. Rany and Joe is good, but never updates. I have Baseball America queued but have yet to listen to it.

A BTF podcast needs to happen.

Frankly, I don't like listening to baseball talk on the radio. On subjects where I feel like I know a lot about the issue, I need to be able to engage in the conversation like this. Its hard for me to just sit back and passively listen about stuff I already kinda know about. Most of the podcasts I listen to are on subjects out of my depth like economics, TV/film, and science.
   14. Heinie Mantush (Krusty) Posted: February 14, 2013 at 10:51 AM (#4369433)
As always, I'll pipe up for Colt Cabana's Art of Wrestling podcast. STEAGLES can back me up on this.


I'm not steagles, but I am a smark happily willing to vouch for AoW. It's one of the best podcasts going. Period.

Unrelated, but El Generico seems to have kept his gimmick.
   15. Moloka'i Three-Finger Brown (Declino DeShields) Posted: February 14, 2013 at 11:06 AM (#4369456)
Up and In was excellent, a wonderful mixture of substance and Parks/Goldstein just messing around. Baseball Today was mostly excellent (never really liked Simon, but Karabell/Law had great chemistry together and were an easy listen). Effectively Wild is good, but I'm already bored with the team previews. The Fangraphs podcast is terrible. Apparently Aaron Gleeman has a podcast, but I've never listened to it. Does Jonah Keri still podcast?

EDIT: Oh, and Rany and Joe. They're very listenable as a team, although both of them individually annoy me (especially Sheehan), if that makes any sense.
   16. Eric Ferguson Posted: February 14, 2013 at 11:21 AM (#4369474)
Heinie Mantush, glad to meet another fan. And I don't understand why you'd sign El Generico and then have him change his gimmick, so it's nice to know WWE isn't going to get in its own way with him. Ole!
   17. Heinie Mantush (Krusty) Posted: February 14, 2013 at 12:41 PM (#4369547)

Heinie Mantush, glad to meet another fan. And I don't understand why you'd sign El Generico and then have him change his gimmick, so it's nice to know WWE isn't going to get in its own way with him. Ole!


*secret handshake*

*secret handshake = ROH handshake.*

I agree totally wrt Generico, but never put anything past WWE. However, since HHH took over developmental, things have improved mightily. I was still a bit worried he'd get semi-repackaged the way Mistico became Sin Cara.
   18. JJ1986 Posted: February 14, 2013 at 12:49 PM (#4369551)
Mike and Der K recommended me the BaseballAmerica podcast a few months ago and now I subscribe to that. Lots of information, and they're very baseball-focused and professional compared to a lot of other baseball podcasts. They're always geared towards informing the audience instead of being whatever the podcaster (?) wants to talk about. They are a little silly about the value of prospects in general, though. (A few weeks ago John Manuel thought it was about 50/50 that Billy Hamilton would have a better career than Kenny Lofton.)
   19. My name is Votto, and I love to get blotto Posted: February 14, 2013 at 01:47 PM (#4369594)
Does Jonah Keri still podcast?


I don't think he hosts anymore, but Jonah is a recurring guest (during baseball season) on the BS Report.
   20. The Pequod Posted: February 14, 2013 at 02:09 PM (#4369623)
Up & In was amazing. I'm still working my way through back episodes, and could imagine returning to some of them for a second listen.

I really liked Baseball Today, but it was getting kind of tiresome. I never really cared for Simon, and Karaball/KLaw revisited the same points (there is no special talent to closing) really frequently. I'm a big fan of Keith's work and felt like Baseball Today left something on the table.

KLaw mentioned in his chat last week or on Twitter that there are plans for something to take the podcast's place. Hopefully it will be something more like Up & In that gives him more latitude to discuss both baseball and non-baseball topics.
   21. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: February 14, 2013 at 03:03 PM (#4369702)
I've listened to Baseball Tonight the last couple of days. Vanilla would be the word I would use to describe it.
   22. The Kentucky Gentleman, Mark Edward Posted: February 14, 2013 at 03:22 PM (#4369729)
For wrestling, the Art of Wrestling is very good. I'd also add The Place To Be.

My favorite soccer podcasts are The Bundesliga Show & the Yellow Wall podcast, though if you're not a fan of German soccer and/or Borussia Dortmund it might not be for you.

Favorite comedy podcasts are Comedy Bang Bang & How Did This Get Made.

In general, podcasts don't really hold my attention. My attention span sucks.
   23. Mike Emeigh Posted: February 14, 2013 at 03:30 PM (#4369740)
A BTF podcast needs to happen.


I've thought about this, actually. Most of us have day jobs that don't involve baseball, so finding the time to do one regularly would be a bit of a challenge, and it's not worth doing if you don't do it often. Wish I'd been able to record some of the debates between Dial and Kevin back in the day.

Aaron Gleeman and John Bonnes do a good one, albeit Twins-centric. It's very much like a BTF one would be, IMO.

Baseball Tonight is worse than useless. It's just like every other ESPN roundtable - a bunch of ESPN guys patting each other on the back about how much they know.

-- MWE
   24. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 14, 2013 at 03:42 PM (#4369765)

I've thought about this, actually. Most of us have day jobs that don't involve baseball, so finding the time to do one regularly would be a bit of a challenge, and it's not worth doing if you don't do it often. Wish I'd been able to record some of the debates between Dial and Kevin back in the day.


But there's enough of us that you could rotate guests. I don't think you need more than 2-3 people at a time.

I don't know how interesting we would be. Podcasts where its just the two hosts cracking jokes is kinda boring. And I know I am far less articulate in person than I am online, and I'm not particularly artikulate on the interrnet thingy.

Baseball Tonight is worse than useless. It's just like every other ESPN roundtable - a bunch of ESPN guys patting each other on the back about how much they know.


NPR has a podcast where a female host made the astute observation that sports roundtables (and political pundit roundtables) = "The View."
   25. Der-K thinks the Essex Green were a good band. Posted: February 14, 2013 at 03:58 PM (#4369793)
BTF pod: Apart from the opportunity to hear what people sound like, what would it offer? The virtues of a place like this stem from its panoply of smart, mostly reasonable, voices who bring to bear a wide variety of experiences. That's counter to how podcasts normally work.

Besides, even from questions like having decent equipment (listening to Skype calls is kind of not so great), vocal quality, having something to say over repeated sessions - what's the compelling reason for that content to take that form, why not write articles?

To that end, I'd like to see more original content housed on this site. (Beyond the comments of course - it's not just the sense of community that keeps me here.)

**

NPR has a podcast where a female host made the astute observation that sports roundtables (and political pundit roundtables) = "The View."

Heh. Who said that?

**

I've said it here before more than once, but - if you like comedy podcasts, you ought to check out Superego.
   26. Morph Posted: February 14, 2013 at 06:27 PM (#4369941)
deleted-
   27. Morph Posted: February 14, 2013 at 06:28 PM (#4369943)
This is a bummer if only because the Karbell-led podcast was the only decent podcast on baseball of which I was aware.


I made a baseball podcast a few weeks ago. It might be boring, hard to really listen to yourself talk and judge the quality, ya know? Don't know if I'm going to continue, Podcast hosting is just hard for me to figure out. I do have solid recording equipment, but the server/hosting business seems so cryptic, and I don't want to screw up my computer with massive file storage. Anyway, here's the episode: I talk about the offseasons had by Cleveland, Toronto, Washington, and the Dodgers, along with some other stuff.


Seams and Soul podcast
   28. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: February 14, 2013 at 07:12 PM (#4369966)
NPR has a podcast where a female host made the astute observation that sports roundtables (and political pundit roundtables) = "The View."
I think that was Linda Holmes, the pop culture critic for NPR. She's pretty funny, and she's exactly right about the NFL pre-game shows being the man version of "The View."
   29. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: February 14, 2013 at 09:24 PM (#4370045)

BTF pod: Apart from the opportunity to hear what people sound like, what would it offer?


I could rant about how to connect the spymaster Wild Bill Donovan and the pitcher Wild Bill Donovan in a few easy steps.
   30. TVerik, the gum-snappin' hairdresser Posted: February 14, 2013 at 10:54 PM (#4370075)
BTF pod: Apart from the opportunity to hear what people sound like, what would it offer? The virtues of a place like this stem from its panoply of smart, mostly reasonable, voices who bring to bear a wide variety of experiences. That's counter to how podcasts normally work.

It would allow a narrowing of the voices. As BTF lives now, all kinds of people can and do post all kinds of stuff, from the extremely partisan (the Youkilis thread today features an example) to the numbers-driven. The mere fact of someone intentionally choosing the voices that would be featured and the topics they'd discuss would make it leaner than the website, and more directed as well.
   31. PreservedFish Posted: February 14, 2013 at 11:32 PM (#4370087)
Would the BTF show be about baseball, or would it be about what's happening on BTF?
   32. JJ1986 Posted: February 14, 2013 at 11:45 PM (#4370089)
It would be about Albert Belle and Chris Truby. And Mike Crudale.
   33. Poster Nutbag Posted: February 15, 2013 at 06:23 AM (#4370153)
I am surprised there aren't more "The Smartest Man In The World" fans here...seems too perfect a fit....
   34. Zach Posted: February 15, 2013 at 11:53 AM (#4370249)
For a Primer podcast to really work, you'd have to have random hijacks of every third episode.

"Oh, my God! Angel Berroa's podcast is over 20 GB! It must be a movie thread."
   35. JJ1986 Posted: February 15, 2013 at 12:01 PM (#4370254)
I think a few of the specialized areas (Notes in a Minor Key and Transaction Oracle) would have been perfect for a podcast, but they are defunct now.
   36. Magnum RA Posted: February 15, 2013 at 12:21 PM (#4370268)
Men in Blazers is my favorite podcast. The guys are funny and knowledgeable. I was a faithful listener to Baseball Today for years and I gave Baseball Tonight a listen. The second show featured Buster Olney saying that Mariano Rivera is in the top 25 greatest players ever and John Kruk complaining about spring training. Big letdown. I've lost a friend.
   37. Der-K thinks the Essex Green were a good band. Posted: February 15, 2013 at 12:30 PM (#4370271)
30 - Well necessarily, yeah. The question (for me) is 'why a BTF product, what compelling reason is there for this to exist?'

33 - I listen, sure. That said, the audience going nuts everytime he says 'Satchel Paige' annoys me, which is neither a knock on Proops or, of course, Paige.

34 - In all seriousness, if it were my project - you might having something like that.

35 - Those topics, I think, would be a solid fit. For that matter, you don't need Mike and Dan (though I respect both deeply) to pull that off.

Matt, I'll check yours out sometimes this weekend...
   38. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: February 15, 2013 at 02:16 PM (#4370321)
I am surprised there aren't more "The Smartest Man In The World" fans here...seems too perfect a fit....


Yes, but we don't need a podcast to talk to ourselves.
   39. Mike Emeigh Posted: February 15, 2013 at 02:21 PM (#4370324)
I am surprised there aren't more "The Smartest Man In The World" fans here...seems too perfect a fit....


Proops was doing a show in Minneapolis last year when SABR was there (it's the July 6 episode of the podcast), and Paula and I went to see it (Will Young and his lady were there as well, if memory serves). We ended up walking out of it; it just got too overbearing for us. I can deal with it in small doses, but as an entire podcast it becomes too much to take.

-- MWE
   40. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 15, 2013 at 02:25 PM (#4370326)
Everyone needs to listen to Marc Maron's interview with Mel Brooks (on Maron's WTF podcast). If you like comedy, or if you just like the experience of being human, listen to the interview. It's the best.

I have really liked a couple of recent Comedy Bang Bangs - basically anything with Paul F Tompkins is a winner, and the two episode set with interactions between Gillian Jacobs and his Garry Marshall impression are tremendously funny.

Not a fan of Proops.
   41. Der-K thinks the Essex Green were a good band. Posted: February 15, 2013 at 02:50 PM (#4370332)
Seconded on Brooks. Listen to the Carl Reiner follow-up as well (though it doesn't have quite the same spark Mel's did).

I think Proops works better in large doses, immersion, but I can totally get it being too much (or not being a fan).

The notion of a celebrity crush is mostly foreign to me, but Jacobs' rapport with Aukerman and PFT was, um, exceedingly charming. (As for PFT, I think the Fourvel ep was the best one they put out last year.) This week's Aukerman/Mantzoukas/A.Daly combo works really well too.
   42. Mike Emeigh Posted: February 15, 2013 at 02:53 PM (#4370336)
I agree with Der-K: what compelling reason is there for a BTF podcast to exist? What niche does it fill that isn't filled by someone else?

And if it's possible to identify a niche that is about more than just being "one of the cool kids with a podcast" (which is, essentially, why Olney decided to do Baseball Tonight), then what voices does the site need to make it work? (And it can't happen without Jim's permission, needless to say.)

-- MWE

   43. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: February 15, 2013 at 03:45 PM (#4370350)
I love Proops. I suppose my name gives that away.
   44. A big pile of nonsense (gef the talking mongoose) Posted: February 15, 2013 at 03:46 PM (#4370353)
And if it's possible to identify a niche that is about more than just being "one of the cool kids with a podcast" (which is, essentially, why Olney decided to do Baseball Tonight), then what voices does the site need to make it work?


Frequent PSAs by Smitty* noting that he isn't wearing pants would be, I think, obligatory.
   45. Avoid running at all times.-S. Paige Posted: February 15, 2013 at 03:49 PM (#4370355)
Everyone needs to listen to Marc Maron's interview with Mel Brooks (on Maron's WTF podcast).


Yeah, that was great. Brooks is up there on the list of My Favorite Humans Ever.
   46. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: February 15, 2013 at 04:48 PM (#4370384)
"I'm the only Jew who ever made a buck offa Hitler!" - Mel Brooks
I am looking forward to hearing this podcast.

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