Kevin: We’re just going to do this the way we want to do it. We hope you like it. We certainly want everybody’s feedback and want to make people happy.
Jason: Not really.
On May 21, 2010, Baseball Prospectus premiered its first official podcast, featuring Managing Partner and “Future Shock” columnist Kevin Goldstein and then-Rangers blogger Jason Parks. The inaugural episode began with Kevin announcing the show’s mission statement: they were going to talk about what they wanted to talk about (baseball or no), as two friends–and guests–shot the shit over drinks. There was a heavy emphasis on scouting and player development, an equally heavy emphasis on Jason’s personal well-being, and significantly more emphasis on what they were drinking.
Over 2.4 years and 102 episodes, Kevin and Jason and a cast of characters as diverse and bizarre as the Simpsons’ Springfield or David Lynch’s Twin Peaks would, for a certain type of baseball fan, set the standard for baseball podcasts, and how to think about and experience watching the game. On the occasion of the anniversary of that first episode, Banished to the Pen reached out to fans of the show for their thoughts on its legacy, defining moments, and impact both personal and cultural.
On Up & In‘s Legacy
Mauricio Rubio, Baseball Prospectus Prospect Team: Sometimes you get fortunate to see something special happen and in the moment you realize that it’ll never, ever be replicated. It’s not enough to say that Up and In was the best baseball podcast out there during its run, it truly was one of the best podcasts, period. All the guests are or became prominent members of the baseball stratosphere in some way and of course the two hosts ended up doing some pretty special things as well.
Nick Strangis, Banished to the Pen: It introduced legions of casual fans and statheads to the beauty of scouting and watching baseball for the sake of seeing baseball not as a series of events and outcomes but for all of the excitement that can happen in between. It taught us that, whatever you love about baseball, there is always more to explore and to love.
Mike Ferrin, MLB Network Radio: I remember being at a game with Jason in Wilmington. At it were 2 guys in their early 20’s who were trying to break into scouting. One had come through the statistical ranks, the other had played in HS and at a small college. Both were there because of Up & In. Not just to meet Jason, but, because that podcast opened up a world of possibility that I’m sure they’d dreamed of but never imagined was a reality. It wasn’t that long ago that Scouts were former players, and even more recently, front office types were Baseball Lifers and Ivy Leaguers. In my mind, Up & In opened up the possibility for many who maybe hadn’t played at a big school or pro ball or, heck, in high school, that if they worked hard they could follow that dream of working in baseball. It made it accessible by a guy who’d worked in IT without a college degree and a former high school player who’d gone to Art School and was a musician. Kevin & Jason told people by both their actions and their words that if you really wanted to work in baseball, really, really wanted to, you could.
Jorge Arangure, VICE Sports: It showed that not all baseball fans are as conservative as they are usually characterized. There was a place in the baseball universe for an expletive-laden, humor-filled, endearingly earnest, and smart discussion about the game and about the people who love it. The show obliterated all stereotypes about how Baseball Prospectus was a place for stat geeks, or that the numbers people couldn’t intermingle with the scouting people. Up and In was a place for every type of baseball fan: the ones who wanted to laugh, the ones who wanted to learn about the game, or the ones who wanted to hear about Jason or Kevin’s nonsense. The formula has been imitated to a much lesser to degree by countless other people who have never been able to match the chemistry shared by my two dear friends. They were truly innovators.
Craig Robinson, Flip Flop Fly Ball: I guess like with anything informative and entertaining, it made us all a little bit less stupid.
On Jason Parks’ Contribution to Culture
Derek Shepard, 0.9er: I feel like it pioneered a deeper interest into scouting, minor league baseball, and even baseball in general. The insight provided by Jason into scouting was invaluable, and you can still feel his impact today. I think the popularity of the podcast legitimized people being interested in this level of baseball and allowed those people to vocalize their interest.
Tom Oltarzewski, 0.9er: #want
Ian Miller, Productive Outs: The interruptions from the street outside Jason apartment. Jason’s emotional state. Jason’s scouting report on his refrigerator. Every “What Are You Drinking?” I don’t mean to steal all the good answers here.
Mark Wolven, 0.9er: “80 grade clown”
Andy McCullough, Kansas City Star: I do wish writers would stop mimicking Jason and writing nonsense like “Oh, his changeup was 80-grade smut.”
On The Show’s Most Memorable Guest
Nick Strangis: The first time hawk trap guy made it on the pod as a guest was truly thrilling.
Ian Miller: Hawks can be jerks, man.
On What Up & In Taught Us About Scouting
Craig Robinson: I think it helped me to realise a couple of things. How much work people do behind the scenes that allow us all to eventually watch Mike Trout and Bryce Harper and many many other talented players get to our TV screens. And how much you have to adore the game to be a scout.
Nick Strangis: I knew nothing about how scouting works before I listened to Up & In. It taught me everything I knew about scouting and the lives of scouts up to that point. It made me feel a lot more love for exciting players – guys with incredible risk but amazing tools. It made me want to watch a lot more baseball – not just major league baseball but baseball at every level.
Derek Corr, 0.9er: Before I got into the show I used to casually follow prospects but didn’t know much beyond what I came across in Baseball America. While I had the passion, Up and In gave me a way to look more into game that I didn’t realize I wanted to learn more about it. The scouting side of the game became more interesting to me. And to think this was coming from Baseball Prospectus, a site that, when I discovered it, was more known for focus on the statistical side of the game.
Mike Ferrin: It brought what was a growing trend of prospect coverage closer to, if not the mainstream, than certainly the heart of hardcore baseball fans. Scouting for a lot of people was, and still is, a bit mysterious. Up & In as Kevin said, helped show how the sausage was made.
Andy McCullough: My favorite moment, by far, was when KG tried to explain to Hudson Belinsky, who had emailed in, why becoming a scouting was so personally taxing, and Jason interjected by saying “You like taking a shit in a McDonalds?”
On How Up & In Impacted Our Fandom
Ian Miller: Listening to Jason and Kevin also taught me it was OK to be the kind of baseball fan I wanted to be. I didn’t have to be the straight guy in the ClimaCool golf shirt and Oakley blades, y’know? In a weird way, Kevin and Jason taught me it was OK to be me and have opinions that were out of the mainstream.
Mauricio Rubio: The first time I listened to Up and In I realized that 1. I was thinking about the game incorrectly and 2. I wasn’t alone.
Derek Shepard: I was intrigued with the approach to baseball and it has changed the way I look at the scouting world. It also made me more of a fan of baseball, just hearing the way Kevin and Jason loved it.
Tom Oltarzewski: Nearly everything I know about players, scouting, baseball concepts and strategy, I either learned about through Up & In, or was spurred to research because of discussions on the show.
On Favorite Moments
Derek Shepard: After being introduced and loving the podcast, I decided to go back and listen to some of the older podcasts each week while waiting for the newest to record. In one of the past episodes I found out that Gary Coleman died. I don’t know what I was doing that I missed that news, but I didn’t believe Kevin and Jason and had to instantly google it. Seeing that they were right, I continued to listen to the podcast. They gave a nice tribute. So I will always remember Kevin and Jason as the “friends” who broke that news to me.
Mauricio Rubio: Jorge’s city mouse, country mouse line
Tom Oltarzewski: A listener wrote in saying that he wasn’t homophobic, but he thought it was weird that the guys described Greg Golson as “sexy, and Jason responded by saying something to the effect of “Well, it kind of sounds like you might be homophobic”. I loved the baseball talk, but the soul of the show for me was always the social and cultural discussion, and that moment was a pinnacle of those guys’ way of thinking.
Jim Callis, MLB.com: I remember being on a few times with Kevin Goldstein, but that’s about it.
On Who Will Win the World Series
The Brooklyn Dodgers
– Kevin’s Mom
Thanks to everyone who participated in this project. Please also check out Mike Ferrin’s guest appearance on the Banished to the Pen podcast, where he talks a little more about Up & In’s legacy with Ryan Sullivan. And share your favorite Up & In memories and what you’re drinking in the comments below.
RIP Kevin and Jason.
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