Many years ago, before I started this blog, before “Rob and Rany”, before even Baseball Prospectus, my best resource for baseball analysis on a day-to-day basis was the regular phone call I shared with my friend, Joe Sheehan. It was so long ago that Joe wasn’t even making fun of the Royals yet.
Joe and I became introduced to each other in the winter of 1992-93, when he answered a request I had made on the rec.sport.baseball bulletin board – the World Wide Web was still a few years away, and r.s.bb was the premier baseball resource on the internet – looking for potential owners for a Strat-o-matic league that I had founded in college. He joined the league, soon made some snarky remarks about the loaded team I had built by taking advantage of some sub-par competition in the league’s inaugural draft, and I fired back. Pretty soon we were emailing back and forth on a regular basis. He invited me to come play in a Strat-o-matic tournament, and ignoring everything my parents had taught me about strangers and the most basic principles of common sense, I agreed. I hopped aboard an Amtrak train at Baltimore’s Penn Station headed to Atlantic City. I was 17 at the time.
Fortunately, it turned out that Joe was not a 55-year-old child molester masquerading as a college senior. We had a fun weekend, I met a bunch of other hard-core baseball fans and Strat players, and even managed to finish .500 in my first tournament. I headed back to college at Johns Hopkins, Joe headed back to USC, and we started talking on the phone on a regular basis. Sometimes we talked about college, sometimes we talked about girls, but usually we talked about baseball. Joe was older than me, and had not spent the better part of seven years living in Saudi Arabia almost completely cut off from baseball, so the educational process generally flowed in one direction. Joe was also a journalism major and a razor-sharp writer, and from our regular emails I learned as much about writing from him as I learned about baseball.
Joe and I would go on to co-found Baseball Prospectus together the winter after I graduated from college. He’s gone on to great professional success as a sportswriter, writing the daily baseball column at BP for many years, and now writing for both Sports Illustrated as well as his own subscription-based newsletter (which you really should subscribe to here.) Meanwhile, I’ve gone on to write a free blog about the most-ridiculed team in the major leagues.
Somewhere along the way, though, we stopped talking on the phone as much. I got married, had three kids, finished medical school and residency and opened my own practice. We might talk on the phone four or five times a year instead of four or five times a week. But when we did talk, the conversations were as animated and argumentative and filled with a mutual love of baseball as ever. During one of our talks last summer, as I headed to a Royals-White Sox tilt at U.S. Cellular, one of us said to the other, “You know what? We should just tape our phone calls and turn them into a podcast.”
On Thursday night, after figuring out the nuances of recording a call on Skype, we did just that. You can listen to the first episode of “The Baseball Show with Rany and Joe” by clicking here. With the help of our producer Brady Gardiner, we’ve submitted the podcast to iTunes; I’ll let you know once we’ve been approved. The plan is to tape a show once a week, generally on a Monday or Tuesday, and hopefully we’ll get the jitters and general awkwardness of the first show out with regular practice.
This isn’t a Royals-centric show by any means, though I’m sure they’ll get more attention than they would on any other general baseball podcast. It’s exhilarating and frankly rather frightening for me to be talking about the major leagues again, as it’s been over three years since I wrote about the other 29 teams on a regular basis. (And before anyone asks, this podcast shouldn’t affect my “Rany on the Radio” show one way or the other. I might be back on the air with 810 WHB this April, I might not, but either way it won’t be the fault of this podcast.)
Anyway, I hope you’ll tune into our podcast, and I hope you’ll enjoy it. Either way, it’s good to be talking to Joe regularly again.