Effectively Wild Wiki


Ben Lindbergh and Meg Rowley offer an update about Sam Miller’s status on the podcast, banter about the Rangers hiring former pitcher Chris Young as their new GM and play-by-play man Len Kasper’s move from Cubs TV broadcasts to White Sox radio broadcasts, and answer listener emails about how tanking teams could be more entertaining, the plausibility and value of a hitting counterpart to the pitching machine, the viability of baseball as a 24-hour service, and how different baseball would be if the dimensions of the strike zone didn’t vary by batter.


  • Building an entertaining team while tanking
  • If baseball were a 24-hour a day league
  • Creating a hitting machine better than a human batter
  • Baseball with a universal strike zone


  • Sam Miller was let go from ESPN as part of a recent round of layoffs at the company. He will be taking a hiatus from the podcast because despite the layoff he remains under contract (with a non-compete clause) with ESPN. This prevents him from covering baseball for other outlets.
  • Sam has said he'll be back when Mike Trout declines, which Ben notes creates a 'moral hazard' due to the conflict of wanting Sam back and not wanting Trout to decline.
  • Meg offers kind words for Sam, who is known to not like to listen to praise. Both Meg and Ben note there is a "decent chance" Sam is not listening. Because Sam will remain under contract with ESPN until his current deal expires, he cannot cover baseball
  • The Rangers hired Chris Young (former pitcher) as their GM.
  • Ben and Meg discuss, among other things, Young's height (6 ft. 10 in) and what the experience is like shopping at a Big and Tall store.
  • Len Casper has left the Cubs' TV broadcast booth and will be a part of the radio team for the White Sox.

Email Questions[]

  • Roger (Fairfax, VA): I appreciated Ben and Meg's comments about how it's not fun that the O's are tanking and not even pretending to want to put a good team on the field.  They clearly non-tendered Hanser Alberto to be bad, not to save money.  But the fans deserve something interesting. So, how would you tank fun?  The 1962-65 Mets were awful, but they had, at some point, Richie Ashburn (still good), Duke Snider (still good-ish), Gil Hodges (done), Yogi Berra (done), and Warren Spahn (done).  They also had Casey Stengel managing and guys like Marv Throneberry and Don Zimmer and a bunch of other old Dodgers to amuse the fans.  Management was trying to appeal to the fans, maybe more than they were trying to win. Should the O's take a lesson from the expansion Mets?  Get Albert Pujols, Anibal Sanchez, Felix Hernandez, Bartolo Colon?   Let those guys keep compiling their counting stats, put on a good show and give the fans something to remember, even as they are taking a dive for the future?
  • Tommy: I'm a medical resident, and have been working a lot of long hours recently. Theoretically (I know there are rampant issues with healthcare access for many reasons), someone can access hospital care 24 hours a day. What would baseball look like if it were a 24 hour service? Would the minor leagues exist solely as some graveyard shift? Would prime players only play from 6-10pm? How would they measure wins or success? I imagine fans could come and go as they please, and the cost of attendance would be some pro-rated amount based on amount of time in the stadium.
  • Louie: We have invented pitching machines that can do superhuman things — such as throwing a ball 140mph, and with various spins — and hence, probably being better than any human pitcher.  My question is: Would it be possible to invent a hitting machine that could hit better than any batter?  If so, wouldn’t it be a great tool for pitchers to practice against?  Of course we’d need to have rules.  I can think of five: 1) It must use a legal MLB bat.  2) It must produce a high barrel rate and exit velocity.  3) It should have a low chase rate.  4) It should weigh less than the heaviest MLB player — let’s say 250lbs max.  5) I’m conflicted as to whether it should be allowed to be anchored into the ground. Obviously, it would not be able to run.  Because if it could run, that would be TOO AMAZING, and I’d spend the rest of my life begging MLB to commission an all-robot baseball team.  
  • Jeff: My 13-year-old son Logan asked me this the other day, so I had the opportunity to explain to him the concept of "If baseball were different, how different would it be?" Here's his question: When they go to robot umps, what if they did a universal strike zone? As in, instead of basing it on the batter, just have a universal "anything over the plate and between 20 and 40 inches off the ground is a strike" kind of thing. (I'm just throwing numbers out there, I don't have any idea if 20-40 is close to right.) Obviously it's a terrible idea and they shouldn't do it, but ... what if they did? It would be an advantage to tall guys and a disadvantage to short guys, but would it be enough that we'd see an actual shift in the types of players who make the big leagues? It's fun to see David Fletcher hit the shoulder-high pitch, but would it be as fun if he HAD to swing at it because he's just a little guy? As for a guy like Aaron Judge, the zone would be relatively smaller for him, which is an advantage, but it would also be relatively lower. Would that disadvantage outweigh the advantage of the smaller zone, or would he be more able to adjust knowing anything above his belt was a ball? Any other ramifications we're not thinking of?


  • Meg suggests that a team filled with "competent but unspectacular players", in addition to a team's top prospect, could be a team that is tanking and fun to watch. Beyond roster building, Ben offers investing in an improved fan/ballpark experience.
  • Meg, citing the robots from Boston Dynamics, says that we should "stop teaching robots to do human stuff".