Welcome to the second half of the opening round of the 3rd Annual Effectively Wild Tournament Bracket Classic. Before the next set of matchups, here are the results of the first half (click charts to enlarge), in which all the top seeds advanced. Bonds had the biggest victory while Jomes had the slimmest.
Lindbergh Burrito Method (2) def Fat Player Photos (7)
Burn the Ships (3) def Squeaky Laugh (6)
Mike Trout (1) def Tree in the Infield (8)
Shohei Otani (4) def Lenny Harris (5)
Gonny Jomes (2) def Multiples of 5 (7)
Barry Bonds (3) def Alex Rodriguez (6)
Sam’s Morbid Moments (1)
Sam has been known to get dark, but in a totally funny way. Amidst the upset-filled 2014 playoffs, he helpfully explained (#551, 8:00) that the point of the sport “is to entertain people, and make them forget that we are all dying right in front of each other.” An all-time quote was born (and even made it onto a mug). During the 2015 playoffs (#744, 29:00), Sam had “an extremely dark analogy” to describe the despondence of the normally playful duo of Adrian Beltre and Elvis Andrus. After an initial “less dark” version, Sam disclosed the slight variation that made the analogy truly dark.
Bat Flips (8)
Bat flip clips are common in the FB group, ranging from professional leagues in Asia and Latin America to tee-ball fields in the USA. Ben and Sam haven’t quite shared their listeners’ enthusiasm for the artform, but Sam did describe Jose Bautista’s fierce flip during the TEX-TOR series as the “most psychologically violent thing” he’d ever seen. Bat flips are currently in the spotlight thanks to the WBC, and their place in South Korea was the focus of an award-winning ESPN article by Mina Kimes.
Sam’s Old Tweets (4)
Perhaps the last great recurring theme in the Sam era, EW listeners would hear Sam randomly declaring, “I found an old tweet…” with increasing frequency late last year. One involved him finally tracking down a 2010 comment from Adam Jones about his Hall of Fame standards. Later banter led Ben to jokingly ask “Haven’t you read all your old tweets by now? That’s all you’ve been doing… for weeks.” And before Sam’s penultimate episode, he was finally able to find evidence of a 2009 Matt Kemp tweet about recording a still-unreleased album.
Bartolo Colon (5)
Colon has a devoted following among EW fans, both for being productive into his 40s, and for at-bats that entertained even the staunchest DH supporter. He became an all-around phenom in 2015: hitting an RBI double, pouncing off the mound for a pickoff, and throwing out a runner with a casual behind-the-back toss. Last year, he finally hit a home run, starred in a fan-made 30 for 30 trailer, and looked casual in a LeBron jersey while on a scooter.
If Baseball Were Different… (2)
The ultimate listener email question was posed in 2014: “If baseball were different, how different would it be? Would it be slightly different, or VERY different?” Despite previous talk of some questions seeming like possible troll jobs, our hosts answered with the utmost sincerity. It has since embodied the spirit of email episodes (if not the podcast itself), and set a new standard for hypotheticals.
Wobbly Chair (7)
In May 2013, Ben and Sam pondered the etymology of “hot seat” during a discussion of managers in danger of losing their job. Sam decided on an alternative: “wobbly chair.” Despite attempts by other euphemisms to put Wobbly Chair on the wobbly chair (eg, “squid is fried“), it remains in the EW lexicon to this day, most recently used during the Twins team preview segment when discussing the job status of manager Paul Molitor.
Watching Videos (3)
Ben and Sam would sometimes share and react to video highlights during their audio podcast. A recent example involved Ben, Carson Cistulli, and Eric Longenhagen analyzing video of Mike Trout switch-hitting during high school BP. Jeff later got into the act, reacting live to a clip in which Adam Lind checks his swing and appears to emit a mysterious cloud from his backside. The footage was broken down frame-by-frame (and Meg Rowley was inspired to do even more sleuthing).
Jeff’s fear of trampolines dates back to a trip to the trampoline gym in 2015, detailed in an episode of FanGraphs Audio recorded at the time. He also once tweeted a strong recommendation that “you not ever take yourself or a loved one to a trampoline gym.” The dangers of trampolines have quickly become a recurring theme in Jeff’s tenure as EW co-host, most recently through a collection of injury stats brought forth by a listener email.
Ryan Webb and Matt Albers have been involved in a years-long back-and-forth over who can finish the most games without recording a single save (Webb currently leads 99-91). It has spawned our fantasy league, tracking of memorabilia on eBay, and a Grantland feature that yielded interviews between Ben and the men themselves. In ’16, Webb only had 17 IP and signed a minor league deal with Milwaukee. After a hot start and an especially memorable game (GWRBI and the W), Albers struggled late and is now with Washington.
Avocado Factor (8)
Ben and Sam once answered an email that led into talk of free agent preferences, which then led to Sam talking about quality of local produce: “Five years ago you couldn’t get an avocado in most of the country, and now you can. Trader Joe’s has made the country much flatter, food wise, if you’re cooking for yourself, but there are certainly things where the region matters.” Does produce quality matter when hundreds of millions of free agent dollars are at stake? Who knows, but somehow, a steady stream of avocado-related content still manages to find its way into the FB group.
Baseball Movies/Shows (4)
In 2015, an emailer asked whether Brewster’s Millions qualified as a “baseball movie.” Sam had a lower bar than Ben and gave a tongue-in-cheek example of a pennant above a kid’s bed being a sufficient qualifier. The FB group was soon barraged by images of every movie that was even remotely baseball-related. Then came TV shows, albums, and everything else. Images with nothing but a “Baseball ___” caption continue to be a regular part of the group, to the delight of some and to the annoyance of others.
Smash Mouth (5)
In 2014, Ben admitted his love for Bay Area alt-rockers Smash Mouth. Ben once declared “All-Star” his all time best Song of the Summer, and even found himself being followed by Smash Mouth’s Twitter account (despite not following them). But for a late ’90s band with a couple of hits (like “All Star“), they still find ways to remain relevant. In the FB group, Smash Mouth news and memes (usually involving”All Star“) started coming and they don’t stop coming, to the delight of some and to the annoyance of others.
Rich Hill (2)
Emailer “James” first asked about Rich Hill‘s potential contract, after three good starts for Boston in late 2015 (Sam said 3 yrs/$30M and Ben 1/$10M). Later, they discussed his actual contract with the A’s, and then projected his post-2016 free agent contract (a recurring topic before they ended at 3/$65M). After he was pulled mid-perfect game by the Dodgers, Ben and Sam had an Emergency Weekend Podcast during which Andy McCullough said “I want to believe in the magic of Rich Hill . . . he seems like a nice guy, the best pitcher I’ve ever seen.” His final contract with LA: 3/$48M. Hill now frequently ruins or improves FB group polls (depending on your point of view) by having his name added by others as an option, regardless of the topic:
The sight of a position player taking the mound has long been a source of fascination for both the hosts and listeners of EW. Baseball Reference even maintains a handy all-time list. Highlights of 2016 included Jacob DeGrom pinch-hitting vs Miguel Montero, and Christian Bethancourt’s eephus. The phenomenon has caught on, resulting in a list of top performances, highlight videos, and a dedicated Twitter news account.
Drafts of Everything (3)
Over the course of the podcast, Ben and Sam have drafted – amongst other things – starters who are 25 or under, pitchers least likely to have Tommy John surgery, and (in a possible jump the shark moment) future Mike Trout/Bryce Harper seasons. For episodes 500 and 996, they were joined by Grant Brisbee and Jeff Sullivan to draft their favorite baseball things. But perhaps the most beloved (albeit with the most forgettable names) is the annual minor league free agent draft.
Ignition (Remix) (6)
Joining “All Star” on a theoretical EW soundtrack album would be R Kelly’s “Ignition (Remix),” a 2002 song with a chorus that identifies itself as a remix. A favorite of the indy league Sonoma Stompers, as mentioned in The Only Rule, it served as a slumpbuster when the entire team used it as a walk-up song. It was also featured as both the intro and outro for episode 951 with GM Theo Fightmaster. (All four episodes in which it was used can be found in the EW Songs & Sounds List document.)
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