Podcast: The College Years: Baseball

Tim and Eric
Will Carroll
Bill Lee

The College Years is a look deep into the vaults of The Sound of Young America. Take a journey with us every week as we post a new program from our salad days.

Today's theme: Baseball

In this episode, Jesse first talks with Tim and Eric. They play a little amateur baseball trivia between themselves. Tim and Eric are the creators of and "Tom Goes to the Mayor" on Adult Swim on Cartoon Network.

Next Jesse talks briefly with Will Carroll. He's the author of “The Juice: The Real Story of Baseball's Drug Problems," which covers the steroid scandal in Major League Baseball, and co-author of The Baseball Prospectus. They discuss local baseball, Barry Bonds, and injury and trade updates.

Jesse also talks with Bill “The Spaceman” Lee.. He's written the best-selling memoir “The Wrong Stuff” and “Have Glove, Will Travel”," which cover his career in amateur, minor, and major league baseball. He talks about getting older and still playing, pitching in senior leagues and staying passionate.

Brian Wilson: Certified Ninja (It Happened In A Dream)


If you don't enjoy this interview with San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson, you're not a fun person.

Go Giants!

Internets Celebrities - Stadium Status


Our pals The Internets Celebrities bust out with another A+ video. Funny, informative, charming. KUDOS.

Conan plays old-tyme baseball

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Every since I talked about watching old-tyme baseball on Jordan, Jesse Go!, I've been inundated with emails saying "Conan did that! Conan did that once!"

Luckily for us, Conan featured the clip on his last show, so we can all enjoy it.


Jules Tygiel


My friend Jules Tygiel passed this week.

Jules was a cultural historian, focusing on California and baseball. He was my professor at San Francisco State University, and wrote one of my college recommendation letters. When I hastily applied to graduate school, he came through with a letter on short notice without even a hint of complaint. He was an inspirational teacher who shared his passion for both history and baseball unreservedly.

In addition to his research, Jules was a wonderful writer. I read his book "Baseball's Great Experiment: Jackie Robinson and his Legacy" before I'd ever met him. In my childhood and teenage years, I read literally hundreds of books about baseball, and "Baseball's Great Experiment" was one of the best. Then as now I was impressed at its combination of academic depth and lucid, exciting prose. It's certainly the best book about Robinson, and when I sold my baseball books a few years ago, it was one of the dozen or so that I kept -- my special favorites. I have often recommended it to friends, both fans and non-fans. In Jules' San Francisco Chronicle obituatary, I was moved to read that it was Rachel Robinson's favorite book about her late husband. I'm not surprised.

Jules was also a friend, particularly close with the Weinstein-Zitrin family, with whom I spent many hours as a young teenager. He and Richard Zitrin, my childhood friend Gabe's father, would engage in heated discussions of baseball subjects -- I remember Richard having particularly strong opinions on whether Jack Morris was overrated, though I can't remember which side he was on and which side Jules was on. Jules was the commissioner of the Pacific Ghost League, the first fantasy baseball league on the West Coast, which was founded in 1981. I'm sure all the owners of the PGL have Jules in their hearts today.

Jules struggled long and hard with cancer, and his illness in recent months was very severe. I will be thinking of him, and of his family. I hope they can find peace in his passing. I also want to thank Jules Tygiel for all he did for me. He will be missed.

Switch Hitter v. Switch Pitcher


Thanks to Josh for sending me this video of the greatest thing ever to happen in a baseball game ever.

Podcast: Bill James, Legendary Baseball Writer and Analyst


In the late 1970s, Bill James started writing "The Baseball Abstract," a new kind of baseball annual. James used statistical analysis to study baseball's conventional wisdom, and often found unexpected results. The first Abstracts were hand-mimeographed and mailed by James himself, but by the early 1980s, James was at the forefront of a new movement, which he called sabermetrics, that argued for objective analysis of the game. James and his cohorts were often derided by baseball insiders, but today James is an employee of the Boston Red Sox, and his ideas have helped transform how baseball teams are run. James also runs and has just released his first in a new series of annuals, The Bill James Baseball Goldmine.

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If you enjoyed this show, try these ones:
Baseball with Bill "Spaceman" Lee, Tim & Eric and Will Carrol of Baseball Prospectus
New Sincerity Summer with baseball owner and promoter Mike Veeck
Nick Hornby, author of "Slam," "Fever Pitch" and more

Bill James on 60 Minutes

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Bill James is the man who invented baseball nerd-dom -- at least in the contemporary sense. He took the box scores printed in the morning paper and drilled down, putting basic assumptions to the test over and over again. Then he took what he'd learned, and wrote it for a general audience in incisive, often very funny prose. I'm interviewing him in about an hour, over the phone, and I couldn't be more excited about it.

Above, a very good segment from 60 Minutes on James, which does a better job than most of expressing what James does and has done over the past 30 years.

Also: Morely Safer is just impossibly old. I should emphasize: he does a great job and as far as I can tell hasn't missed a beat. But he is super, super old.

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