This will serve as the 3/8 Daily Dose
I grew up loving sports radio. I used to listen to WDFN in Detroit all the time and eventually I began calling in. The evening show in Detroit was hosted by a guy named Mega Man Ike Griffin and I loved the show. I would write down all of my points, wait on hold for 30+ minutes and then deliver my thoughts in 1-2 minute spurts almost nightly.
One of my best sports radio memories was going to an on-site of Griffin’s show with my mom, best friend and sister. Detroit Lions defensive end Robert Porcher was a guest and they had a Porcher-related trivia question for his tickets at the upcoming game against the Packers. You had to name the mascot of Porcher’s alma mater, South Carolina State. I instantly raised my hand despite the fact that I really didn’t have a clue what the answer was for this question.
I knew South Carolina was the Gamecocks, but that knowledge would be useless to me here. Thankfully my mom was on hand. It was her idea to just guess Bulldogs, seeing as it was a popular enough nickname that we might get it right. And we sure did! A few weeks later I was sitting 7th row in Porcher’s seats enjoying an excellent game that the Lions won (it was pretty rare back then, too).
We moved to Harlingen, TX when I was 14 and it took me a while to even find the lone sports talk radio station there. For the years I lived there (3, sophomore-senior years of high school) it was purely an affiliate with no local stuff. That made sense as there wasn’t a pro or even a viable college team anywhere in the area so there was no real need for a local flavor for the national stuff. Might as well just stick with the pros. We had Sporting News Radio then Fox Sports Radio followed finally by ESPN Radio.
I listened to it a lot in high school. My dad and I would listen every day when he drove me to school and I would listen on summer nights when I stayed up late playing baseball simulators online (Jeez, I was [am?] a dork!). Just like when I was in Detroit, I loved to call in. Sometimes I’d wait even longer on the national shows, especially during peak hours, but I had my handy notes and an inexplicable amount of patience just so I could be heard. I’d get most excited when I could actually respond to the host’s response instead of saying my initial piece and then having to listen to them offline.
I have taken the long way of showing how far back my love for sports talk goes with the point being that I didn’t just happen upon podcasts. After loving sports talk radio for years, podcasts were a natural step in the process. First off, the local stuff here in Austin isn’t very good even with two stations now. Secondly, I cannot stand the fact that it feels like 43 minutes of every hour is commercial-laden. So when I discovered podcasts were essentially commercial-less sports talk radio, I was immediately hooked. Not only did they cut out my least favorite part of sports radio, but the content is often much better, too.
This all leads to my podcast recommendation list. I listen to sports-related podcasts almost exclusively with a few general topic ones sprinkled in, but for the sake of this list, I’m going to whittle it down to baseball only. There are different types and formats here so I’m sure there is something for everyone. Or at least everyone who enjoys listening to baseball talk on some level.
By the way, if there is something missing on this list that you think needs to be a part of it, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or hit me on Twitter because I’m always up to give a podcast a shot.
(UPDATED: MAY 23rd-Podcasts added and some commentary to previously listed podcasts has been added, too. That commentary can be found in italics at the end of the original write up.)
FanGraphs Audio – Mix the usually sharp insights of FanGraphs.com analysts with the irreverent wit of host Carson Cistulli and it’s a winning combination. Cistulli also brings in non-FanGraphs guests which only improves the show. Check out a recent episode with player Matt Antonelli and I dare you not to become a fan of his almost instantly. Oh and while it may not be for everybody, I for one love the intro music with Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. Yes, I even bought it on iTunes. It’s called “The Charmer” and it’s available for a scant $0.99, iTunes giftcard FTW!
As for frequency of the show, I think it will ramp it up as the season gets nearer. There were four in February and there were two right off the bat in March, so while they don’t keep a regular schedule I’d expect four-five per month during the season. It checks in between 35 and 50 minutes per show.
MLB.com Fantasy 411 – This is one of the first shows I started listening to years ago. It used to be a daily show that could be podcasted, but it has evolved into a television show on the MLB Network that will likely start soon and I believe runs
4:30-5:00 (new time!) 1:30 PM central when it’s not preempted and podcast-only. I think they podcast most episodes, but like ESPN’s PTI, it’s better to watch since it’s a show with graphics and highlights. Still, hosts Mike Siano and Cory Schwartz will do an episode every once in a while that is podcast only. Great content and analysis with humor thrown is what you can expect to find on this show. I would definitely keep it in your iTunes feed, but also set your DVR to record daily.
Baseball America Podcast – Attention prospect mavens and wannabe prospect mavens, this is your podcast. It runs often with a college rundown focusing on the Top 25 each week, draft podcasts throughout May and prospect roundup episodes all throughout the season. Of course they do top 100 prospect stuff around this time each year (which they ran back on Feb. 23rd with the recent list), too.
They stay busy in the offseason as well with 18 podcasts since the season ended through today and if you want to only count mid-October to mid-February as kind of the dead period, 14 of the 18 came in that 4-month timeframe. Time fluctuates based on the topic. They are usually at least 30 minutes, but bigger topics stretch past an hour (top 100 coverage, draft report cards, signing deadline, etc…).
If you don’t have time to subscribe and digest all the fantastic writing on their site and in the bi-weekly (I believe) magazine, then this is a great substitute. If you do subscribe to the site and/or the mag, this is the perfect supplement for your commute, dog walks or whenever you like to listen to podcasts.
The Jonah Keri Podcast – This one isn’t purely baseball, but it skews baseball enough to be included. I’ve already recommended this in a previous Daily Dose, so I won’t just rehash everything again. It’s a great podcast that has quickly become one of my favorites. Keri reels in brilliant guests weekly (oftentimes more than once a week) and discusses a range of topics touching sports, pop culture, technology and the writing profession among others. Baseball and college hoops seem to be his favorite sports with the podcast leaning toward the former thus far. As he is Canadian, he also likes hockey a good bit and isn’t afraid to do a full episode on it either. As a native Detroiter, I like hockey plenty but the coverage is scant here in Austin, TX.
The show is a must-listen for anyone who likes podcasts and likes sports.
Up & In: The Baseball Prospectus Podcast – If you’re not a fan of long-form podcasts, then you’re out on this one from the jump. They routinely run two hours and sometimes push the two and a half hour mark. Hosts Kevin Goldstein and Jason Parks are the opinionated minds behind this operation and if you’re easily offended, you may want to pass. So now that I’ve given you two reasons not to listen, here are two reasons you would want to listen. The long-form is awesome to me so it’s a plus in my book, but I know it can go either way toward attracting or dissuading listeners. And the fact that Goldstein and Parks are direct with their opinions is another plus for me that can put off some.
They are prospect guys from the scouting side of the ledger when it comes to their baseball knowledge, but they understand stats and incorporate at times (they aren’t afraid to dismiss them entirely, though, either). I think they give deep and interesting perspectives on a wide range of topics in the game and that’s what drew me in from the start (I’m a point-9’er). They segment the show so if you only want the baseball portion or only want, as Kevin calls it, the goofy stuff, then you can pick the spots you want with his handy timed segment guide attached to each episode.
Sometimes I find their music snobbery a bit overbearing as it seems they like some of the stuff just because it’s not popular. Honestly a lot of it is utter trash to me. But that’s my opinion and I don’t mind that they like it. I just think they should be the same way about mainstream music they don’t like… just move on. No one cares that you don’t like it. That aside, the baseball talk is plentiful and rich enough to easily overlook the slight annoyance that their condescension toward most things popular triggers (Jason does make a good point that they can’t be pegged as hating all things popular as he loves the Beatles more than anything).
If you want good baseball talk, great guests and colorful language, then you need to be listening to this show.
ESPN Fantasy Focus: Baseball – Another ESPN offering, Matthew Berry and Nate Ravitz are well-known in the industry far beyond the reaches of this podcast. They also both play in Tout Wars leagues, too. As for the show, it appeals to a more broad fantasy baseball player. The standard league they discuss is a 10-team mixed which just isn’t my cup of tea. That said, there is still some good discussion of players that range beyond standard league value and it’s worth a listen.
At times they can veer off topic a bit too much for my liking, but they are upfront that it’s a part of the show so if you don’t like it, it’s more of a “you problem” than something with them. It’s a fun listen and a worthwhile way to pass 30-40 minutes a day. I’ve also heard from some of my friends that both guys are really cool in person so even if you don’t love their on-air personas, they seem to be relatively well-liked guys within the industry.
I always keep them on the iTunes list. I love when they debate and you get both sides of a player, though. That, to me, is very useful. Give it a shot and see how they sit with you. Plus, the theme song is awesome. Gets in my head every day and I don’t mind. Update 5/23 – This is arguably their best season, in my opinion. They’ve done a great job branching out their coverage from just 10-team league-relevant information. They’ve got some funny segments that they have added and they have just the right amount of silly stuff, again in my opinion. It’s been a must-listen for me this season.
Beyond the Box Score Podcast* – Another recent feature of the Podcast Recommendation of a past Daily Dose, the BTBS podcast is quickly climbing the list as one of my favorites. It’s another long-form podcast (1.5-2 hours) filled with guests and plenty of banter between hosts Dave Gershman and Matt Klassen. I’ve told the two before that I think sometimes Matt steamrolls Dave a bit too much and comes across too eager to get his point across, but they let me know that Matt was encouraged to speak up when he saw fit. But they are just seven episodes in (eight should come out today sometime) so they are still getting into their groove.
Gershman is booking great guests and they usually have a couple per episode, but even a guest-less episode with just Gershman and Klassen riffing on a variety of topics would be worth listening to as well. I’m not a fan of the bumper music between segments (The Bare Necessities), but something like that isn’t going to drive me away from a show or else I’d almost never listen to Up & In. Update 5/23 – Dave wins, the bumper music has grown on me.
* (Now in iTunes!)
ESPN Baseball Today – I’ve been listening to this show since it started waaaaaaay back in 2006 when Alan Schwarz was hosting. I absolutely loved the show when Schwarz hosted it. That’s nothing against the hosts since, but he was just fantastic. There was a lull last season and I wasn’t listening much as I didn’t love Seth Everett partnering with Eric Karabell, but Karabell has added Keith Law and contributor turned co-host Mark Simon for the 2011 season making it a must-listen once again.
ESPN likes to keep their podcasts under an hour and most check in around 30 minutes. Baseball Today tops 30 most days, but rarely goes much longer than 40. I think it’s probably the wheelhouse amount of time for most. With Law and Simon joining Karabell, I’d love if they went long-form for an hour-plus a day, but that’s not going to happen so I’ll have to take my 30-40 minutes. Update 5/23 – I was looking a lot more forward to this earlier in the preseason, but Law’s overwhelming negativity, which comes across as shtick at this point, is just too much. It is making it hard to listen to on some days. You literally expect him to take the negative angle to every single topic. I think Karabell worries about what Law thinks a little too much, too. He also worries way too much about going into “extra innings”, which is over an allotted time set by his producer Podvader. First off, most people don’t mind if pods run long, but more to the point, settle that off-air with your co-host and producer. Considering that it happens more often than not, what is the point of mentioning it at this point?
Baseball Daily Digest – My good friend Joel Henard hosts a twice-a-week show with one as a general baseball show with co-host Albert Lang and the other covering his favorite team, the Chicago White Sox, with co-host Mike Rudd. I only listen to the general one every week, but since I like Joel’s style so much I will tune into the White Sox one every once in a while, too. Joel also just finished his excellent Fantasy February series where he had several guests from the industry to cover a host of topics. This is a passion of Joel’s and that comes through in the shows. They are hosted at Blog Talk Radio so they are hour-long timeslots and I highly recommend tuning in, especially because sometimes you can hear yours truly doing a special co-hosting spot.
Betting Dork w/Gil Alexander – Another niche podcast, the topic of this one is pretty obvious in the title and I haven’t been listening to it long, but I really liked the football betting analysis and Gil’s favorite sport to bet on is baseball so I’m anticipating liking this even more as we approach the season. To be honest, I don’t even bet much these days, but I just enjoy hearing him and his guests uncover angles and discuss trends. Sometimes he just has guests on talk about a particular sport without the betting angle. He does that with Marc Spears of Yahoo! to talk about basketball and I’m hoping he has baseball guests on like that during the summer.
Baseball HQ Radio – If you like the insightful numbers-based analysis of the BaseballHQ.com writing staff, then chances are you will enjoy this podcast. It’s essentially an hour-long version of the website. Host Patrick Davitt starts by bringing on Harold Nichols and Matt Beagle to discuss the NL and AL, respectively. They each cover a handful of guys in their league going into the second and third level of their stats and giving you the scoop on whether they are worth owning, trading or acquiring in your league. After that Davitt has on his guest of the week which is someone from the fantasy baseball industry (sometimes part of the HQ family) and they have a 20-30 minute chat.
The main guest spot is followed by weekly segments that include a prospect round up, Beagle on again for Market Pulse, a new segment on keeper leagues and finally Ron Shandler’s Master Notes to close out the show. It’s different from a lot of the shows on this list, but I find it enjoyable and it is definitely ripe with worthwhile information.
Broken Bat Single – Right off the bat, this is a Kansas City Royals-themed show so if you have no interest in the goings on of that team, then you probably think that you don’t want to listen to this show. I would encourage you to at least give it a shot if you’re a fan of baseball podcasts. I don’t have great interest in the Royals (as y’all probably know, I’m a Tigers fan), but I do love good baseball talk and that’s what Nick Scott offers on his show. Scott books strong guests (I really enjoyed the episode with the GM of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, the AA team for KC) and covers the team top to bottom while also mixing in some general MLB and non-KC Central Division coverage as well. The shows run an hour to an hour-plus, but like all of these long-form ones, it is easy to pick up where you left off if you can’t listen to it all at once.
The Detroit Tigers Podcast – While we are on the topic of team-specific podcasts, I will plug one for my favorite team. Ian Casselberry and Mike McClary essentially do what Broken Bat Single does only for the Tigers, so of course I love it. Again, if you’re not into team-centric shows, then you’re not going to like this, BBS or Joel’s White Sox show (it’s purely coincidental that all three are AL Central teams).
Baseball Press Podcast – Are you looking for a quicker baseball fix? The Baseball Press Podcast is right up your alley. The guys over at BaseballPress.com over a sub-30 minute (most of the time) covering the goings on of the game around once a week during the season. They are in the midst of their team preview episodes right now with guests from various blogs and other outlets to talk about the team of the night.
CBS Fantasy Baseball Podcast – I used to really dislike this podcast because one of the co-hosts was just insufferable. I couldn’t listen to his trite pet theories and terrible analysis so I had to abandon ship on this one. A few weeks ago when I was going through iTunes looking at stuff, I came across it again and decided to look through and see what new episodes they had done. I saw they had started their positional preview episodes and this person was no longer a part of the show so I gave it a shot again. I’m glad I did because it’s pretty enjoyable. A three man booth with essentially a mediator and then the two analysts going back and forth, they went in depth at every single position and have followed that up with episodes dedicated to sleepers, breakouts and busts.
In season they do a few different shows each week: the weekly preview, the most added/dropped players and a recap/injury show on either Monday or Tuesday and sometimes both. Episodes vary from 30-50 minutes long depending on what they need to cover. They won’t cut time if the topic is meaty, but they won’t fluff it up if there isn’t anything to talk about, either (a mid-September add/drop show was 15’ long). This is just hardcore fantasy analysis and it’s pretty enjoyable.
Bloomberg Sports’ Behind the Numbers – I really enjoyed this show during the season, but there hasn’t been a new episode since October 15th so I’m not sure if it will be back for season 2. Last year it didn’t start until March 26th, so I won’t write it off for 2011 until April. I’d put it in your iTunes for now and just wait and see. They get great guests and it’s a show that generally checks in under 30 minutes, if I remember correctly. Update 5/23: A few random episodes popped up a few weeks ago, but only one would download and it was a preview episode that included a Jonah Keri interview. I guess this isn’t coming back full-time this year.
CBS Baseball Podcast – This podcast in its current iteration as Ear on Baseball is just five episodes old and I’ve only heard two. One was with Kevin Goldstein, who believes C. Trent Rosencrans (the host) and others with recent baseball podcasts have lifted their format from Up & In, and the other was with some band called The Baseball Project that I just couldn’t get through. The guys in the band sounded nice enough, but it wasn’t something I was particularly interested in and I jumped to a few spots to see if it was the entire episode or just part of it and it was the whole thing.
I realize Goldstein is kinda joking with his friend when he says he stole the format, but he’s also kinda serious. I didn’t see anything from Goldstein’s format in Rosencrans’ show. Nor did Goldstein make up the format for long-form podcasts. They have a very enjoyable show that I have liked since it came out, but podcasts were out loooong before Up & In started!
At this point, I’d have to give this show an incomplete grade because I’ve only really listened to one full episode. Update: 5/23 – They did a handful of strong episodes February-April, but then there hasn’t been an update since April 7th so I guess it’s done.
The New Additions: (May 23rd)
The Baseball Show with Rany & Joe – Rany Jazayerli and Joe Sheenan are long-time friends and industry stalwarts when it comes to baseball. As Joe tells it, they used to have extended phone calls where they would just talk about everything that was going on in baseball so given the rise in podcasts, they decided to just start recording these calls and sharing them with the world. If you enjoyed the writing of these two back at Baseball Prospectus or currently enjoy them either at Rany on the Royals or in Sheehan’s Newsletter, then you’ll definitely like this show.
Sports Poscast with Joe Posnanski – I was absolutely thrilled to learn that Joe Posnanski was starting a podcast and 11 episodes in, it has not disappointed. It isn’t a pure baseball podcast, but there is enough baseball content for it to crack the list especially as we inch closer to summer. He has done three episodes (technically four as one was a two-parter) with the creator of the best show on TV, Michael Schur (Parks & Rec.), including one where they did a fantasy draft of baseball books which was amazing. He’s also had Bob Costas, Bill James, Ian O’Connor (who recently released a book about Derek Jeter) and Giants announcer Duane Kuiper for his baseball-centric episodes. The only no-baseball episode was with Kevin Harlan. This is quickly becoming one of my favorites.
Hot Clicks Podcast with Jimmy Traina – Another one that isn’t all baseball, but eminently listenable regardless of the guest. I discovered the podcast this weekend and listened to all nine episodes. The Logan Morrison and C.J. Wilson episodes are must-listens from a baseball perspective. I also enjoyed the James Andrew Miller (co-author of Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN which releases May 24th), Erin Andrews and Chris Cooley episodes quite a bit. If you enjoy Traina’s twice-daily link roundup at Sports Illustrated, you will probably like his podcast.
Bizball Radio – If you enjoy Maury Brown’s great work on the business of sports network (and specifically baseball) then you will no doubt enjoy this podcast where Brown speaks with some of the most intriguing guests in the sports business field. Like some of these additions, it isn’t all baseball all the time especially with a topic like the NFL Lockout to speak about, but all except one of his guests (George Atallah from the NFLPA) was either mostly baseball talk or at least some within their episode.
Podcast To Be Named Later – Jason Collette and company from DRaysBay.com have resurrected this Tampa Bay-centric podcast. Like the other team-focused podcasts on the list, it is best if you are a fan of that team, but if you are a diehard baseball fan in need of more podcasts then you will enjoy listening to this roundtable discussion of one of the league’s best teams.
Fantasy Pros 911 Podcast – Rich Wilson, Tony Cincotta and Tim McLeod get together every Sunday night for an hour to talk about the week that was and the one coming up in fantasy baseball. They cover plenty of topics in their hour-plus (the first hour is always live on BlogTalkRadio while anything additional bleeds over onto the podcast only) with information for all fantasy players regardless of league size and format. They engage their chatroom very well, too, and also respond to emails the following week. The sound quality leaves a little to be desired, but I believe the only way to go truly live on BTR is over the phone which precludes them from recording on Skype and then posting a cleaner recording to the site. I might trade the live aspect for better sound, but that would take away their interactive with the chatroom which is a key aspect to the show.