Joe Posnanski: Lord of Lists

Philip Jeff Frye

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He did shortchange the Sox rotation, ranking them only sixth all time. (Clemens, Pedro, Grove, Cy Young and Tiant); I know some teams have loaded rotations as well, but Clemens, Pedro, Young and Grove are arguably like, four of the seven best pitchers of all-time.
Is that because they all spent significant periods of time on other teams? How about replacing Tiant with Ruth?

Who's ahead? Off the top of my head, in no particular order, Dodges, Giants, Braves, Yanks?
 

Kliq

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Is that because they all spent significant periods of time on other teams? How about replacing Tiant with Ruth?

Who's ahead? Off the top of my head, in no particular order, Dodges, Giants, Braves, Yanks?
I don't know if any of have been mentioned yet, and he has been fairly unspecific if he is just going by the years spent with the team or their overall careers; I kind of think it as the latter.

The Athletics would have to be pretty high. I'd say Atlanta is number one (Maddux, Spahn, Kid Nichols, Smotlz, Niekro, Glavine, John Clarkson) they are absolutely loaded.

For all of their championship success, I don't think I would rate the Yankees higher than the Sox, if we are just going by top five staffs. Clemens cancels out Clemens, obviously, then you have Whitey Ford. Then you have some guys that were good, but are HoF pitchers largely because they pitched for the Yankees (Lefty Gomez, Red Ruffing, Waite Hoyt). You do have Mussina, who was underrated in his career but c'mon, you aren't taking him over Pedro, Young or Grove. I guess if you really wanted to stretch you could generously give them someone like Randy Johnson, but that opens a whole can of worms and strays away from the spirit of the rankings (the Sox could then add someone like Tom Seaver in place of Tiant).
 

Dummy Hoy

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I've enjoyed the Spring Training series and thought his article on the Sox today accurately summarized my feelings about the 2021 incarnation of the team.

He did shortchange the Sox rotation, ranking them only sixth all time. (Clemens, Pedro, Grove, Cy Young and Tiant); I know some teams have loaded rotations as well, but Clemens, Pedro, Young and Grove are arguably like, four of the seven best pitchers of all-time.
Clemens/Pedro/Grove all have legit arguments for best of all time...
 

Zedia

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Good mini-essay about what exactly are the Bosox trying to accomplish these day anyway at the bottom of the piece too.
I have no idea about the tweet Joe is talking about. I must be really out of the loop. Have people been discussing it here?

Apropos of the best rotation convo, I was looking at all-time pitching war leaders. According to wiki, Pud Galvin got his nickname because he made batters “look like pudding.” Is his name pronounced Pood (rhyming with wood) Galvin??
 

Spelunker

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Time to update this again - Joe's moving on (yet) again:

So, Mike Schur and I just finished recording what will be the last PosCast we do for The Athletic. I realize looking at that sentence that it sounds much more ominous than I intend for it to sound … we’ve had a blast at The Athletic. I’ve had a blast at The Athletic. They’re good people. But I’ll be leaving The Athletic a bit later this summer and, as such, we’re taking the PosCast and I’m taking my writing to new lands.

I hesitated to tell you this for a couple of reasons. One, the natural and reasonable question to ask is: "Why are you leaving The Athletic?” And it’s a particularly reasonable question to ask when a person has bounced around the way I have the last few years. Am I just Larry Brown?

Unfortunately, I don’t have an answer that wouldn’t bore you to tears. What I can say is that we are living through a particularly baffling and volatile time in media. Stuff is constantly changing, opportunities open and close at venus fly trap speeds, and we’re all just doing the best we can. I’ve been one of the lucky ones. The Athletic made me a kind offer to stay, but it isn’t the right offer for me at this moment in my life.

The second question is: Now what? And that one’s tougher because there are things in the works that I can’t talk about yet. I can tell you that I’m super excited about what’s coming, and I promise to let you know as soon as things become official. I hope you’ll be at least a little bit excited about it too. I’m hoping it will be really great.

I can honestly tell you that every day I take a moment to be thankful about my extraordinarily fortunate life. I have no earthly idea how the underachieving son of immigrants ended up traveling the world and writing about the greatest athletes of our time and being connected to so many remarkable people. “Bubba,” the great columnist Ken Burger used to say to me, “we are living the life, aren’t we?”

Yes we are. Thank you again for reading. More to come.
 

Leather

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I'm baffled by this guy. A decade ago he seemed like the best thing since sliced bread and now I kind of forget about him entirely.

Is he pretty much entirely books and podcasts now?
 
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Marceline

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I'm baffled by this guy. A decade ago he seemed like the best thing since sliced bread and now I kind of forget about him entirely.

Is he pretty much entirely books and podcasts now?
Books, podcasts, and whatever new project he's doing at the new site no one's heard of that he's really excited to move to.
 

The Gray Eagle

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He has done amazing work at the Athletic. Loads of it.
If you missed it, it's not because it wasn't good or interesting.
 

LogansDad

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He has done amazing work at the Athletic. Loads of it.
If you missed it, it's not because it wasn't good or interesting.
Very much this. His writing and storytelling game is still 100% on point.

Sad he is moving on, The Athletic, while still worth it, is better with him writing for them. But I will always be excited to see him pop up, wherever it may be.
 

JimD

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Maybe I haven't been paying attention as much, but my impression is that his volume of writing for the Athletic has gone down in the last couple of years (I 'follow' him on the site so I should be seeing his work show up regularly when I go to the site). I do listen to the Poscast regularly.

He does seem to jump around an awful lot, and while I can't blame anyone for taking advantage of people and companies who want to pay them (presumably) increasing sums of money to do what they do, every time it feels like Joe promises something new and exciting and it's just ... more of the same, only now people have to know where to find him this time around. I love the guy's writing but the days of him being a key attraction on a new site feel like ten years ago - I seriously doubt his audience is growing anymore.
 

jon abbey

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The Athletic is very badly organized, it’s not always easy to find even the pieces about teams and by writers who you’ve subscribed to, but he has written a ton for them. He did separate preview pieces on all 30 MLB teams coming into the season, 100 pieces on the 100 most deserving players not in the Hall of Fame, and that was after his series on the 100 best players ever last year.
 

JimD

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The Athletic is very badly organized, it’s not always easy to find even the pieces about teams and by writers who you’ve subscribed to, but he has written a ton for them. He did separate preview pieces on all 30 MLB teams coming into the season, 100 pieces on the 100 most deserving players not in the Hall of Fame, and that was after his series on the 100 best players ever last year.
Fair point - I did see those, I guess I thought he was still writing more about sports in general.
 

Philip Jeff Frye

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He's also been writing a weekly column so far this season with interesting little stories from baseball, which I've enjoyed reading very much.
 

nattysez

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The Athletic is very badly organized, it’s not always easy to find even the pieces about teams and by writers who you’ve subscribed to, but he has written a ton for them. He did separate preview pieces on all 30 MLB teams coming into the season, 100 pieces on the 100 most deserving players not in the Hall of Fame, and that was after his series on the 100 best players ever last year.
Wrong thread for this, but I have more than once tried to find an Athletic story I saw posted on Twitter and given up after a minute or two of looking on the site. I'm not sure what they do that makes stories hard to find, but whatever it is, they've done it very effectively.
 

cannonball 1729

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Dummy Hoy

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Joe has a new book coming out. Its his definitive Baseball 100 list. Sounds similar to Bill Simmons book. I can't wait.

https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/The-Baseball-100/Joe-Posnanski/9781982180584?fbclid=IwAR3Dj3xH4liWg7EWggUE5IrnhMvZo6jW89NvcQm58scDEaZU5YDGGQxye38
It's a collection of his essays from the Baseball 100 on the Atheletic. It's a must read for anyone who is a fan of baseball history.

Side note, I didn't really care for Simmons' book. I thought he inserted way too much of his pet theories into things.
 

DJnVa

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Wrong thread for this, but I have more than once tried to find an Athletic story I saw posted on Twitter and given up after a minute or two of looking on the site. I'm not sure what they do that makes stories hard to find, but whatever it is, they've done it very effectively.
Are you a subscriber?
 

shlincoln

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What do you do when you've already written for every other sports publication in the world? Cut out the middleman!

Substack was always the obvious destination after he announced he was leaving the Athletic, but I dunno, sixty bucks a year is roughly what the Athletic and Defector charge, and while I like his writing I'm not sure I like his writing that much.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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I obviously know why he'd do this (money) but he's awful at sticking to deadlines when left to his own devices. And in nine months he could jump to a revamped version of the Sporting News or Juggs.

And while I subscribe to the Athletic, after his lists, I found myself not really reading his stuff that much. I think that most authors have a shelf life with me and Posnanski is sorta there. Drew Magary is reaching it, Will Lietch is just about there and Bill Simmons has been there for years. I think that they're all good at what they do, but they all have ticks that I can't stand any more.

David Roth rules though.
 

Phil Plantier

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I subscribed. I figure it's like a $5/month Patreon, and I'm fine with him putting out 1-2 things a month, along with a Poscast.

Did anyone read the Houdini book?
 

Marceline

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I subscribed for $35/year. I'm not sure if this offer was available to everyone or just people that were previously subscribed. In any case, I'll do 1 year and see if I feel it's worth it when it comes up again next year.

I'm kind of with JMOH on the shelf life thing.
 

brs3

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I was hoping after the Baseball 100 he would give lists a rest. His best writing is in the moment, and there just hasn't been enough of that in my opinion. The fact that he's doing a Football 100 is less than exciting...but I'm not a big football fan, so perhaps that's part of my lack of excitement.

I wonder if he's better off just writing books and releasing one a year on whatever topic he's obsessed with. He could probably do an autobiographical parenting book of just interesting stories. He's a prolific writer and I wonder if he'd benefit from a trusted friend telling him to not lean into so many things. I think being so divided in projects dilutes the overall quality.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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I wonder if he's better off just writing books and releasing one a year on whatever topic he's obsessed with. He could probably do an autobiographical parenting book of just interesting stories. He's a prolific writer and I wonder if he'd benefit from a trusted friend telling him to not lean into so many things. I think being so divided in projects dilutes the overall quality.
I know that I always go to this well, but Posnanksi isn't a great historian. He's a really good story teller and he's positive as Ted Lasso, but when it comes to biographies or historical accounts, Posnanski tends to get lost in his childhood wonder of people he looked up to. His book on Paterno is example A1, but "The Machine" was really a 300-page love letter to Pete Rose. Which, I mean, I get that you loved Pete Rose as a kid, but you're an adult now; clearly you can see that he's a scumbag.

That being said, I think that's why his lists are so popular. You don't have to dive into too much crap. You can write a 2,000 word essay on Pete Rose and talk about how he got banned from baseball but there's other things to jam in there. So even if it's the lede in the piece, he doesn't have to keep referring to it. In a book, it's a bit different. And him not ripping up his Paterno book and rewriting it to reflect the allegations that came out while he was working on it is fucking criminal. It took me a long time to come back to Posnanski after that, but I've made my peace with the guy. I'm not going to him for hard hitting analysis or tough truths, he's a guy who loves sports and is always going to show them in a good light. Which is fine. We could use more Ted Lassos. But I don't know how much I want to pay for it.
 

PC Drunken Friar

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I subscribed. I figure it's like a $5/month Patreon, and I'm fine with him putting out 1-2 things a month, along with a Poscast.

Did anyone read the Houdini book?
The Houdini book was...fine...it was a love letter to all those who love Houdini (and even some who didn't). Very forgettable. Every time I opened my Kindle, I was like...oh yes, THAT'S what I was reading.
 

Leather

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I know that I always go to this well, but Posnanksi isn't a great historian. He's a really good story teller and he's positive as Ted Lasso, but when it comes to biographies or historical accounts, Posnanski tends to get lost in his childhood wonder of people he looked up to. His book on Paterno is example A1, but "The Machine" was really a 300-page love letter to Pete Rose. Which, I mean, I get that you loved Pete Rose as a kid, but you're an adult now; clearly you can see that he's a scumbag.
What a believe is case in point in his recent 100 best football players series, this one on Randall McDaniel (which is mostly very good).

He starts off discussing McDaniel's almost inhuman physical gifts, which clearly paved the way for a career as an athlete. I mean, the question really was: which sport?

He was just a remarkable athlete. That part never changed. He played tight end on the high school football team and averaged 28 yards per catch. He did basically everything in track — 100 meters, 400 meters, threw the shot put, whatever was needed. He went to Arizona State as a tight end and might have become a great one, but he saw an opening to play right away and make a real impact as an offensive lineman.

So he naturally put on 50 pounds and became an All-America guard.

I use the word “naturally” there to leave no doubt; in addition to his otherworldly offensive line play at Arizona State, he was twice champion in the 275-pound division of the American Drug-Free Powerlifting Association.
And then Pos discusses his upbringing, which was rough, which unfortunately isn't that uncommon for African American athletes because we have a poverty problem in America that disproportionately impacts minorities, even moreso in the early 80s when McDaniel was a kid. But it's a part of McDaniel's story and certainly worth mentioning, and McDaniel himself seems very aware of how fortunate he is and he's clearly thankful:

He remembers going with his mother to food drives so they could have something for dinner — a memory that has inspired him to dedicate much of his time to help combat hunger. He saw many friends go down bad paths. “Nobody on my side of town made it out,” he would say sadly.
But then Pos can't help himself from taking it a step further, from spinning it into something more. That it wasn't just the fact that McDaniel was a freak of nature; huge, agile, strong, fast, talented, that helped him break free of his surroundings. No, it was *his spirit!*

You often hear about people who grow up surrounded by gangs and violence and temptations and yet overcome, but I’m not sure we hear enough about the strength and fortitude and confidence it takes to overcome. McDaniel — picking up from the strength of his parents and his high school athletic director O.K. Fulton — seemed to know exactly what he wanted, and he was not going to let anything stop him.
(emphasis added).

I know Pos is waxing poetic here, but it's kind of gross. African American communities in the 1980s were ravaged by the crack epidemic and a government that was content to let them waste away. McDaniel was able to overcome that because he was blessed with freak athletic ability that caused people to take an interest in him and shepherd him away out of mutual self-interest. Yes, he didn't fuck it up, and good on him and his parents for making sure he didn't. But the reason we "don't hear enough" about the inner strength and fortitude about successful athletes who "made it out"* is because there were lots of kids who were smart, and confident, and "strong" who *didn't* make it out because nobody gave a shit about them because they weren't 6'4" and fast.

We don't hear enough about THEM, Joe. The HOF lineman has had enough accolades thrown his way without implicitly shitting on 99.9% of poor kids for their lack of mental toughness.

*Note: we hear a lot about the inner strength and fortitude of successful athletes, period.
 
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JimD

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On the latest PosCast, Joe and Mike announced that the show will be hosted very soon by Meadowlark Media, the new venture formed by Dan Le Betard, John Skipper and others. They will be incorporating a fundraising element as part of the move and encouraging listeners to donate as well (they will be donating the proceeds from the podcast).
 

coremiller

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Excited for this year's Holiday Draft, which was just released. I'm cueing up some Trans-Siberian Orchestra and rewatching Groundhog Day to get in the holiday spirit.
 

Leather

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Posnanski has a new blog post about liking happy movies which is premised on watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy for the first time, and unconditionally hating it, and needing a "palette cleanser," which turns out to be "That Thing You Do."

Now, the Lord of the Rings movies are imperfect. They are *very* long. They absolutely have some ham and ponderous dialogue. But that's not really what Posnanski is complaining about (aside from the length). He's points out the amount of fighting and the dark undertones of the story (the allure of the ring). And he's like "No, fuck that, give me Tom Hanks and love coming to the rescue in a candy-coated version of the past, because those Tolkien stories are too dark and unpleasant."

The Lord of the Rings movies. Not even the books. Too dark.

And I can't help but think, yet again: "Talk about the wrong fucking person to be in the room when the Penn State scandal went down. This man is literally incapable of examining anything beyond cartoon, Rocky & Bullwinkle-level, villainy. And moreover, he seems completely unwilling to even reflect on it."

"I do not know why I love “Harry Potter” so much when I don’t get any of these others..."
I do, Pos. It's because they are kids movies.

And if you see it like I do, this part, about his favorite "happy movie" (which pretty much means his favorite movie of all time) makes you a little queasy:

There’s a scene at the very, very end of “That Thing You Do” that sort of describes why I love it so, so much. The final scene closes, and then the movie does one of the post-movie deals where they tell you what happened to every character.

And it’s so delightful because “That Thing You Do” is completely made up. These characters didn’t really exist. There was no Jimmy, no Lenny, no Skitch. Heck, the “name” of the base player is “T.B. Player.” Tom Hanks plays a guy named “Mister White,” no first name. These aren’t real people.

And yet, the movie tells you what happened to them.

That just makes me so incredibly happy.
 
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John Marzano Olympic Hero

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I like Pos, he seems like a nice guy and I just spent a good portion of the day complaining about Dan Shaughnessy being a prick, but I’m starting to think that his “child like” wonder of sports is more than just something that sets him apart from his peers.

I do not like LotR at all—it’s not for me—but man, what a dopey way of describing those movies. And to actually need a palette cleanser? Joe, you were in a room with a real fucking monster for many weeks and you gave him a tongue bath.
 

johnmd20

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Now, the Lord of the Rings movies are imperfect.
I love your post. It is excellent.

But I take exception to this. Those movies are absolutely perfect. And if you don't watch the extended versions, they aren't too long. Now, I personally love the extended versions because it feels like you're going on the journey with the characters due to the length. The movies are immersive.

But they are perfect or as perfect as a movie can be.
 

Leather

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I love your post. It is excellent.

But I take exception to this. Those movies are absolutely perfect. And if you don't watch the extended versions, they aren't too long. Now, I personally love the extended versions because it feels like you're going on the journey with the characters due to the length. The movies are immersive.

But they are perfect or as perfect as a movie can be.
Thanks, man. I appreciate that.

I really like the movies too, but it's hard for me to distinguish my affection for the *story* (which I read when I was 10 and again when I was 22 and which is obviously a foundational text for a lot of pop culture) and the movies. And there is some stuff in the movies that does make me roll my eyes, mostly the third movie. For instance, I really find the Legolas acrobatic stuff grating; it's just overdone and now that the CGI is aging looks bad. I also take issue with the 4 endings (and the associated hopping on the bed and all that). It seems almost self-congratulatory by the filmmaker. I think the first movie is the best (then again, I think the first book in the trilogy is the best, so again...). But making movies out of that story was something people had been trying to do in earnest for 40 years and they do a good job, which was no mean feat.

That said, I can't help but watch and wish Sean Connery had taken the role of Gandalf. Nothing against Ian but Connery would have been sublime.
 
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Leather

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I like Pos, he seems like a nice guy and I just spent a good portion of the day complaining about Dan Shaughnessy being a prick, but I’m starting to think that his “child like” wonder of sports is more than just something that sets him apart from his peers.

I do not like LotR at all—it’s not for me—but man, what a dopey way of describing those movies. And to actually need a palette cleanser? Joe, you were in a room with a real fucking monster for many weeks and you gave him a tongue bath.
I have such an ambivalent attitude towards him, because on one hand he can be a marvelous writer. his Baseball 100 book is great because his "gee whiz" tone is A) diluted with medium-boiled statistical analysis; and B) kept in check by the need to keep each entry relatively short (3-6 pages). He can't expound more than a paragraph or two about why Ol Hoss Radbourn hauling milk around in old tabacco tins while playing stickball with Groucho Marx or whatever is just sooo fucking adorable to think about and isn't just like life to make you go "hmmm".

And I feel bad questioning a guy that wears his heart on his sleeve, and errs on the side of crackerjack and cotton candy when so many writers are so cynical and the cut-throat nature of sports business always threatens to rob the game of any innocence, or purity, or joy, or what-have-you it has left.

But the more I read of his, and the more he tweets (and his twitter feed is 60% retweets of people telling him how much they like his book, 30% kissing Mike Schur's ass, and 10% other stuff) the more I'm left with this nagging suspicion he's kind of a... solipsistic weirdo? Like he's had what seems to be a charmed life where he's got this amazing career he always dreamed of having, a family/home life that (from how he tells it) is Norman Rockwellian, he gets to hang out with people (baseball and non) he admires, and life is just a string of happy moments in Posnanski Land. And if you don't see life the same way, well, that's too bad for you for being a grouchy sourpuss and you get that bad attitude right outta here! Because life is WONDEROUS goddamn it! Have you HEARD about Harry Houdini? What an amazing guy! How can you be angry/depressed/upset in a world where Harry Houdini existed? Have I told you about the cute saying that Buck O'Neil had that always cheers me up?

Like I would, I dunno, trust him more or find him more relatable if he just went off on someone, guns blazing, for being an asshole or a cheat. But as it is he's kind of like the Big Bird of the baseball world.
 
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John Marzano Olympic Hero

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I have such an ambivalent attitude towards him, because on one hand he can be a marvelous writer. his Baseball 100 book is great because his "gee whiz" tone is A) diluted with medium-boiled statistical analysis; and B) kept in check by the need to keep each entry relatively short (3-6 pages). He can't expound more than a paragraph or two about why Ol Hoss Radbourn hauling milk around in old tabacco tins while playing stickball with Groucho Marx or whatever is just sooo fucking adorable to think about and isn't just like life to make you go "hmmm".

And I feel bad questioning a guy that wears his heart on his sleeve, and errs on the side of crackerjack and cotton candy when so many writers are so cynical and the cut-throat nature of sports business always threatens to rob the game of any innocence, or purity, or joy, or what-have-you it has left.

But the more I read of his, and the more he tweets (and his twitter feed is 60% retweets of people telling him how much they like his book, 30% kissing Mike Schur's ass, and 10% other stuff) the more I'm left with this nagging suspicion he's kind of a... solipsistic weirdo? Like he's had what seems to be a charmed life where he's got this amazing career he always dreamed of having, a family/home life that (from how he tells it) is Norman Rockwellian, he gets to hang out with people (baseball and non) he admires, and life is just a string of happy moments in Posnanski Land. And if you don't see life the same way, well, that's too bad for you for being a grouchy sourpuss and you get that bad attitude right outta here! Because life is WONDEROUS goddamn it! Have you HEARD about Harry Houdini? What an amazing guy! How can you be angry/depressed/upset in a world where Harry Houdini existed? Have I told you about the cute saying that Buck O'Neil had that always cheers me up?

Like I would, I dunno, trust him more or find him more relatable if he just went off on someone, guns blazing, for being an asshole or a cheat. But as it is he's kind of like the Big Bird of the baseball world.
I agree with a lot of this. I didn't read his Baseball 101 book because I read it daily on the Athletic, though I'm kind of tempted to buy it because I really enjoyed it. And part of the reason why I liked it is because baseball needs a cheerleader, so it was nice to read through the pieces and while Posnanski acknowledged that Player A might be a shithead, he didn't dwell on it. And that was cool. Not every story needs to be a Boston Globe Spotlight story. Whether or not Bonds took PEDs, I know that he's an asshole. But he also can hit a ball really far. And that's what I was there for.

I really concur with what's bolded in the above. Posnanski is who he is and doesn't hide it behind a guise of being a tough guy. I have a feeling that Joe was like a lot of us, shy, bookish, a little overweight, not super coordinated--probably won the Coach's Award or Most Improved Trophy every year--but had an undying love for sports. Knowing that he wasn't going to be an athlete, he did the next best thing; he chronicled athletes and has become more successful than he ever dreamed. That's great, it really is. Like I said above I bitch a lot about cynical pricks like Dan Shaughnessy or lazy, entitled dorks like Bill Simmons, and for better or for worse, Posnanski isn't like either of these guys, which is nice.

But you nailed it when you said you'd wish he'd just lose it (my words) and say what he feels. Unload a little bit. Everyone gets frustrated and we know that 90% of athletes are jerks to the media, so it would be nice for him not to sugarcoat everything like he's Damon Runyon and he's writing "Sports Stories for Wee Lads". Like it's okay to say that Ron Oester once called you a "fat fuck" and he's a dickhead for doing so. Or that Dane Iorg farted in your face once when you were trying to interview Terry Shumpert and that ruined your day.

I guess I'd like to see him a bit more like Bob Ryan. Ryan never lost his passion for sports, but at the same time he won't bullshit you either. That's what makes a good journalist a great one. Shank has all the talent in the world, but he's got an axe to grind about certain people so his opinions mean nothing. Posnanski is the other side of that coin. He thinks everyone he meets is lovely--and that's a great quality to have--but when you're a writer whose job is to chronicle the truth, his opinion is just as worthless.

I think that your Schur percentage is a little low though, I wish my kids loved me the way that Posnanski loves Mike Schur -- and I'm a huge Schur fan. It's just a little, strange.
 

ManicCompression

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I still cannot, for the life of me, understand what he's saying about That Thing You Do's end credit sequence. LOTR does this exact same thing, it just does so before the credits - Frodo and Sam go to the shire, Aragorn gets married, etc. That's what you try to do in film and TV and books - you make up characters and create a storyline that ends in a satisfying fashion. It doesn't actually happen to real people. Imagination is required. What is different about That Thing You Do?
 

Spelunker

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I still cannot, for the life of me, understand what he's saying about That Thing You Do's end credit sequence. LOTR does this exact same thing, it just does so before the credits - Frodo and Sam go to the shire, Aragorn gets married, etc. That's what you try to do in film and TV and books - you make up characters and create a storyline that ends in a satisfying fashion. It doesn't actually happen to real people. Imagination is required. What is different about That Thing You Do?
Senator (and Mrs.) John Blutarsky were unavailable for comment.
 

shaggydog2000

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I have such an ambivalent attitude towards him, because on one hand he can be a marvelous writer. his Baseball 100 book is great because his "gee whiz" tone is A) diluted with medium-boiled statistical analysis; and B) kept in check by the need to keep each entry relatively short (3-6 pages). He can't expound more than a paragraph or two about why Ol Hoss Radbourn hauling milk around in old tabacco tins while playing stickball with Groucho Marx or whatever is just sooo fucking adorable to think about and isn't just like life to make you go "hmmm".

And I feel bad questioning a guy that wears his heart on his sleeve, and errs on the side of crackerjack and cotton candy when so many writers are so cynical and the cut-throat nature of sports business always threatens to rob the game of any innocence, or purity, or joy, or what-have-you it has left.

But the more I read of his, and the more he tweets (and his twitter feed is 60% retweets of people telling him how much they like his book, 30% kissing Mike Schur's ass, and 10% other stuff) the more I'm left with this nagging suspicion he's kind of a... solipsistic weirdo? Like he's had what seems to be a charmed life where he's got this amazing career he always dreamed of having, a family/home life that (from how he tells it) is Norman Rockwellian, he gets to hang out with people (baseball and non) he admires, and life is just a string of happy moments in Posnanski Land. And if you don't see life the same way, well, that's too bad for you for being a grouchy sourpuss and you get that bad attitude right outta here! Because life is WONDEROUS goddamn it! Have you HEARD about Harry Houdini? What an amazing guy! How can you be angry/depressed/upset in a world where Harry Houdini existed? Have I told you about the cute saying that Buck O'Neil had that always cheers me up?

Like I would, I dunno, trust him more or find him more relatable if he just went off on someone, guns blazing, for being an asshole or a cheat. But as it is he's kind of like the Big Bird of the baseball world.
Someday we're going to find out he murdered a drifter just so he could feel something for once.
 

Leather

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I still cannot, for the life of me, understand what he's saying about That Thing You Do's end credit sequence. LOTR does this exact same thing, it just does so before the credits - Frodo and Sam go to the shire, Aragorn gets married, etc. That's what you try to do in film and TV and books - you make up characters and create a storyline that ends in a satisfying fashion. It doesn't actually happen to real people. Imagination is required. What is different about That Thing You Do?
I think he believes...

Well, now that you mention it, you're right. It makes up an ending for fictional characters, which lots of movies do.

I don't necessarily hate That Thing You Do, I've watched it with my kids (who were 7 at the time) and it's got some nice bits, but it's a piffy, feel-good, Boomer fantasy, family/date-movie by design. Its fucking The Wonder Years writ large except Vietnam is played off for laughs because it's still in the future. I mean, anyone over 14 who watches that movie and comes away from it not rolling their eyes a little bit is probably a fucking rube. It portrays 1965-ish as this sun-is-always-shining candy-colored wonderland of life but where racism and sexism and agents who really fuck you over don't exist, and the guy gets the manic pixie dream girl in the end because he's just so nice.* And that's fine. That's cool. But Pos talking about it is like someone buying a slice of apple pie at at some random diner and being like "THIS is the best dessert in the WORLD!"

*But what really drives me nuts about the movie is that the eponymous song that's at the center of the movie has a key change in it that would never have been written in 1965, and was clearly inserted to make the song more likely to be played on modern radio.
 
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Daniel_Son

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Posnanski has a new blog post about liking happy movies which is premised on watching the Lord of the Rings trilogy for the first time, and unconditionally hating it, and needing a "palette cleanser," which turns out to be "That Thing You Do."

Now, the Lord of the Rings movies are imperfect. They are *very* long. They absolutely have some ham and ponderous dialogue. But that's not really what Posnanski is complaining about (aside from the length). He's points out the amount of fighting and the dark undertones of the story (the allure of the ring). And he's like "No, fuck that, give me Tom Hanks and love coming to the rescue in a candy-coated version of the past, because those Tolkien stories are too dark and unpleasant."

The Lord of the Rings movies. Not even the books. Too dark.

And I can't help but think, yet again: "Talk about the wrong fucking person to be in the room when the Penn State scandal went down. This man is literally incapable of examining anything beyond cartoon, Rocky & Bullwinkle-level, villainy. And moreover, he seems completely unwilling to even reflect on it."



I do, Pos. It's because they are kids movies.

And if you see it like I do, this part, about his favorite "happy movie" (which pretty much means his favorite movie of all time) makes you a little queasy:
The weirdest part of his post is that he lists "Groundhog Day" as one of his favorite "happy" movies. Sure, it's got a happy ending, and I guess it's technically a comedy... but man, it's a dark movie. I wonder if he closes his eyes when Bill Murray drives off a cliff or tries to save the homeless guy from dying.
 

Leather

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The weirdest part of his post is that he lists "Groundhog Day" as one of his favorite "happy" movies. Sure, it's got a happy ending, and I guess it's technically a comedy... but man, it's a dark movie. I wonder if he closes his eyes when Bill Murray drives off a cliff or tries to save the homeless guy from dying.
"Into the Spiderverse", too. That movie begins with Spiderman fucking dying, the efforts of the villain to bring his dead wife and child back to life, and basically concludes with the main character's beloved uncle being killed. Oh, and having to say goodbye, forever, to your new best friends.