Welcome to the second half of the first round of the 1st Annual Effectively Wild Tournament Bracket Classic. Here’s a recap of the results from the first half:
They’ll see Bonds (5) at bat next, as he outslugged Trout in the 4-5 matchup, with 57%.
“Ben Isn’t Here” (2) was a victory song as it killed Morbid Sam Moments, with 54%.
It’ll share the mic with Drafts of Everything (3), which edged out The Guys Watch Videos by only 9 votes, at 51%.
In the Levine Region, Smash Mouth (1) got their game on and sent Wells packing once again, garnering 72% of the vote.
They’ll have a battle of the bands against the Crickets (4), who barely hopped past Neglecting Cincinnati with 53%.
In the group’s biggest upset, the EW Reliever League (7) drowned Baseball on Ice, getting 60%.
The relief corps will face Fat Player Photos (3), which squeezed past the Non-Revelatory Rumors, with a 54% total.
Now it’s on to the second half of the opening matchups. Is The Squeaky Laugh a serious contender for the title? Can D-Backs Headlines win this meaningless game? Will the Fit and the Snowpiercer each win a checkered flag? You decide!
Squeaky Laugh (1) v Lindbergh Burrito Method (8)
(1) If you happen to be listening when something really, really amuses Sam, you might be treated to the squeaky laugh. This is no ordinary laugh. It really takes something that tickles both hosts so much that they can’t stop laughing, and eventually Sam’s laugh reaches this squeaky crescendo, ranging from merely high-pitched to almost inaudible at times, that sounds just a little bit like he can’t really breathe. Ben usually gleefully declares the arrival of the squeaky laugh with as much, if not more amusement than whatever it was that made them laugh in the first place. One classic show started with a laugh outtake, and ended with another (in which Ben expresses concern that Sam might wake up his family).
(8) Many were shocked to hear that following their initial meeting before the podcast began, Ben and Sam had never again met in person. That was finally addressed just a couple of weeks ago when the two met up in California for Sonoma Stompers tryouts. This encounter led to an even more shocking discovery, as Sam found out that Ben does not eat a burrito according to the conventional method — or really any method you could possibly come up with. The Lindbergh Burrito Method became the latest EW meme, taking the Facebook group — and presumably the world — by storm. I won’t attempt to do Sam’s vivid description justice, as it manages to weave together a variety of images (including both harmonicas and Chinese acrobats): you can listen to it yourself.
Jose Molina (4) v Multiples of 5 (5)
(4) Ben has his share of favorite players who don’t get a lot of attention, such as Ryan Doumit and David Robertson. But perhaps the most familiar among EW listeners is Jose Molina. Though he may be the Zeppo of the Molina brothers, he was an ace at framing pitches, which Ben has been a well-known proponent of. One episode, dedicated to Jose and his craft, even started with an entire 90-second clip of a radio interview with Jose talking shop.
(5) A recurring joke has been Ben’s compulsive obsession with ending the week on an episode number which is a multiple of five. This has led to willingness to record extra episodes (sometimes with a complicit Russell Carleton), and disappointment when holidays throw the sequence off. Sam has remained entirely indifferent to this, and in fact often forgets which episode number they have even reached. Given the restriction, it wasn’t too hard to find the first instance, in which Ben catches Sam off guard by pointing it out, and explains, “It appeals to my sense of symmetry. So we can never miss a day again, is what I’m saying.” “Unless we miss a whole week, which I’d be just fine with.”
The Silly Position (2) v Ben’s Homemade Pickles (7)
(2) Cricket has inspired both hosts and listeners to ask many questions and construct numerous hypotheticals about elements that could be transferred between the sports. “The wall” from soccer was first suggested by a fan, where well-protected infielders would theoretically move in to assume the position. But another fan cited the now infamous “silly position,” where one player would actually come in even closer, primarily to be able to catch any very short pop-up after a mistake by the batsman, while also possibly being a distraction, and preventing any hit to that side from travelling more than a few feet. The legality of such blatant distraction in baseball would be uncertain, but since when did that stop us from thinking about it?
(7) Fairly early in the Facebook era, Ben mentioned on the show how his office had taken on the scent of homemade pickles. Ben offered online instructions to the group members, some of whom would go on to undertake the task. Sometime after, Sam asked if there were any updates, but Ben hadn’t had a chance due to baseball scout school in Arizona. “Ben, you know the best way to make new friends is to pickle things for them in your motel room.”
Promo Code BP (3) v “If Baseball Were Different…” (6)
(3) Go to Baseball-Reference.com and subscribe to the Play Index, using the coupon code BP, for the discounted price of 30 dollars on a one-year subscription. If that wasn’t enough of an explanation then you’ve probably never listened to Effectively Wild. But now you can also visit the Sonoma Stompers online store, where using the coupon code BP gets you 15% off fine Stompers merchandise.
(6) In what was perhaps the show’s ultimate, meta hypothetical email, a reader simply asked “If baseball were different, how different would it be? Would it be slightly different, or VERY different?” Listeners to the show who weren’t yet familiar with the show’s vibe may have been befuddled to hear the hosts proceed to discuss the question in earnest. Sam, initially: “I think if it were VERY different, then it would be different. If it were only slightly different, it would be unnoticeable.” Sam, in conclusion: “If baseball were different, it would be, at most, slightly different.”
The Honda Fit (1) v The Wire References (8)
(1) During the show’s early run, Ben would explain that Sam was recording from his Honda Fit (apparently to not disturb his family). Soon, it practically became the show’s third character. When the Facebook group first started in August 2013, perplexed newcomers were greeted with a photo of a Fit and a lovely model (“Not what I expected Sam to look like,” said the first comment). Honda has never officially been a sponsor, but it’s safe to assume at least one listener has test driven a Fit thanks to Sam.
(8) TV references have been part of Effectively Wild throughout virtually its entire existence, whether it’s an intro sound, convenient parallel, or simply a discussion of what our hosts have been watching. Elementary, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad and the Good Wife have all made multiple appearances. However, it’s The Wire, with its plethora of characters and wide-ranging themes, that has proved to be one of the most versatile and long-lasting staples, from Omar heralding the arrival of Manny Machado in the majors to an exceptional Stringer Bell reference that Dirk Hayhurst completely missed.
“Ben/Sam”-“Sam/Ben” (4) v Wobbly Chair (5)
(4) When you refer to our podcasting duo, you always make a choice; do you say “Ben and Sam” or “Sam and Ben”? The question has divided listeners for an age (well, a year or two, at least). Ben even solicited responses from linguists, one of whom explained why our brains might tend towards one over the other. Before the episode’s end, Ben read Ken Arneson’s theories, some of which were of the more phonetical variety. The issue nevertheless remains unresolved.
(5) In an episode about when managers should be fired,
Ben and Sam the guys were stumped about the origin of the popular phrase, “hot seat.” Before realizing it was a reference to the electric chair, they settled on “wobbly seat/chair” as shorthand for a manager or executive whose job was in peril. One Baseball Prospectus writer even felt comfortable enough to “Quantify the Wobbly Chair” without any need to explain the etymology.
Snowpiercer (2) v Pat Venditte (7)
(2) An intermittently recurring topic during the 2014 season was the sci-fi action film Snowpiercer, an international production starring Chris Evans, set on a circumnavigating train in a future ice age. While Sam was often the one who would randomly bring it up on EW, Ben got to put his thoughts in writing for a Grantland group piece on the film. To him, the oversights in logic were made up for by the attention to quirky details: “It’s that set design and visual style, then (along with a few compelling performances), that make the movie, elevating its seat-of-the-pants plot and heavy-handed allegory into something that smacks of cult classic.” (Sam led off back-to-back episodes with Snowpiercer talk: 570 and 571).
(7) If an EW hypothetical was going to take shape as a real MLB player, it would probably be Pat Venditte. The current Oakland A’s minor leaguer can pitch very effectively with either arm — or at least he has so far in the minors, as the Yankees never gave him a big league shot. Even his trusty glove is ambidextrous. Ben, Sam and pretty much everyone else who wants to know just how effective a switch-pitcher could really be in the majors are hoping that the A’s help us to find out.
D-Backs Headline Contest (3) v Plumbers/Pipefitters Union (6)
(3) During an episode arc in late 2014 (starting with 498), Sam stumbled upon the Arizona Republic’s daily contest where fans submitted Diamondback game headlines. Sam would take the entries to task, critiquing the information conveyed, and the wordplay (which included rhymes, alliteration, and really obvious puns). Oft-cited phrases in the FB group would soon include “How Sweep It is” and “Venomous Snakes.” By far the most popular entrant was the jaded and disgruntled “Nora Morse,” who penned pearls like “D-Backs Fight Valiantly to Win Meaningless Game,” and “D-Backs Lousy.”
(6) Sam is a big fan of baseball on the radio. In the process of hearing games, he also hears a lot of the same commercials, and will occasionally comment on them. While talking about radio sponsors who seem to advertise nowhere else (38 min in), he used a local plumbers/pipefitters union as an example. A pipefitters union member (though actually an HVAC service technician) emailed to relate how a rivalry between his union and a sheet metal workers union once influenced sponsoring decisions. And course, within the Facebook group, sightings of union ads at ballparks soon became popular.
Summaries by Darius Austin and Ken Maeda. Special thanks to Matt Trueblood and Matt Kohnhorst for their contributions.
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