Effectively Wild Wiki


Ben Lindbergh and Meg Rowley banter about the Cardinals being unbeatable, the Giants setting a record for outperforming PECOTA, the Orioles’ and Diamondbacks’ race to MLB’s worst record, the White Sox and Yankees also having identical records (and the vagaries of unbalanced schedules and divisional assignments), the saga of Drew Maggi’s call-up and demotion and the phenomenon of “phantom ballplayers,” the Phillies’ weird ways of winning, and Shane Baz in the playoffs, then answer listener emails about a Jays and Rays Cardgate conspiracy, a team of Triple-A players vs. a team of inactive ex-MLB players, completing every long extra-inning game in an end-of-season marathon, what would happen if teams could literally refuse to lose, hitters gleaning pitch locations from where the catcher sets up, and MLB’s World Series rings vs. Australian rules football’s premiership medals.


  • The Cardinals' win streak, and having to re-examine belief in the paranormal (01:32)
  • The Giants' record-setting outperformance of their PECOTA (05:31)
  • Teams with identical records but differing narratives due to divisions (13:49)
  • Drew Maggi being called up by the Twins after 11 minor league seasons... and then not getting into a game (24:54)
  • The Phillies going from being behind by 6 runs before winning by 6 runs (35:28)
  • More Card-gate discussion and using gamesmanship to potentially leak fake game plans to opponents (37:35)
  • Who would win in a game between Triple-A players and inactive ex-MLB players?(47:59)
  • Playing all extra innings at the end of the season if they affect the postseason (56:07)
  • What would happen if a team could opt to keep playing a game indefinitely and 'refuse to lose' until one of the teams conceded? (1:04:22)
  • Can batters see and gain information based on how a catcher sets up to receive a pitch? (1:12:56)
  • A follow-up note about Aussie Rules football comparing which players get premiership medals versus who gets World Series rings (1:17:54)


  • Ben and Meg discuss Meg's hydration options during recording, as she has both a seltzer and a beer to drink.
  • Ben was excited to pick Drew Maggi in the Meet a Major Leaguer segment, but was thwarted due to not getting into a game.

Email Questions[]

  • Nathan: I enjoyed your discussion about the Blue Jays/Rays card scandal. I immediately thought about an episode of the Brady Bunch, because who wouldn’t? As I’m sure you remember Greg and Marcia Brady attended Westdale High. In the runup to the big game against local rival Fairview, Marcia is approached by Fairview quarterback Jerry Rogers. Jerry quickly has Marcia stary (sic) eyed. However Jerry has an ulterior motive. Jerry doesn’t actually have an interest in Marcia, what he really wants is to steal Greg’s playbook before The Big Game. Eventually Jerry gains access to the Brady house and Bobby Brady witnesses Jerry’s first failed attempt to steal the playbook. Once word gets back to Greg, he hatches a scheme to trick Jerry Rogers: “Operation Wipeout.” Greg makes a new playbook, however this one is filled with fake plays. The boys plant the playbook and allow Jerry Rogers a second attempt to steal it. Marcia is crestfallen and Greg is elated that he has undermined Jerry Rogers’ attempt to gain an unfair advantage before The Big Game. Meanwhile Mike Brady overhears this discussion and explains to Greg that he has stooped to Jerry’s level and that it would only be fair for him to phone Jerry and tell him what happened. This would ensure the big Westdale/Fairview game would be played fair and square. Greg phones Jerry and tells him what happened. But Jerry doesn’t believe Greg and Fairview prepares for the game with the fake playbook. In the end Westdale won The Big Game because Fairview was anticipating all the wrong thing. Jerry really blew it. He ruined his team’s chances to beat Westdale and he blew his chance with Marcia Brady. Getting back to the Rays and Blue Jays... how do we know that the card Kevin Kiermaier picked up was a real scouting report? Maybe this was Toronto’s attempt to gain a slight advantage. After all aren’t front offices always looking for new ways to get another small advantage? The plot thickens.
  • Pete: I am writing to propose an alternate theory to the entire Cardgate incident: that it is actually a conspiracy whereby the Blue Jays intended for the card to fall into the Rays' hands and it is likely filled with disinformation. Meg had two key insights:
    • These card wristbands NEVER fail in this specific way in football
    • If your opponent did come into possession of one of these precious cards you would want to downplay the significance of the data

Think about it: the first time any of has ever known a card to just "fall out" of a wrist band just happened to come not in a football game but in a non-contact play during a baseball game, which just happened to be between two division rivals and possible playoff opponents, and it just happened to occur at the very tail end of the regular season. On top of that, the card just happened to come from the weaker of the two teams - the team that would be looking for every kind of small edge they can find in a short playoff series. Further, the receiving team just happened to be one of the most analytical teams in baseball, a team that would absolutely devote resources to devouring the information contained on the card at a time when those resources would have to be diverted from other critical activities like advance scouting. The Jays' reaction ("oh no, we lost the worst possible card - whatever shall we do?") is exactly what you would expect if they were trying hard to sell the importance of the card to their opponent. If anything, I think they laid it on a bit too thick - it made me instantly suspicious, and likely made the Rays suspicious too. Having said that, if the Rays are spending time on internal debates about whether they can believe the information on the card in the first place, then that is also a win for the Jays! All in all, this seems like a brilliant bit of baseball subterfuge not by the Rays but by the Jays. The best move for the Rays would probably be to burn the card, pretend it never existed, spend zero additional time thinking about it, and just trust their own processes and work product heading into the playoffs.

  • Nat: Who do you think would win a 7-game series: An average team of AAA players or a team of former MLB players who last played in 2019 or earlier (e.g. your Daniel Descalsos, Aaron Altherrs, etc.)? Let's assume we give the ex-MLBers a month to get the pitchers stretched out. On the one hand, the Triple A-ers are in shape and have youth and health on their side. On the other hand, the ex-MLBers have proven big-league skills, while a good portion of any triple-A team won't make the majors.
  • Curt: I have a proposal for solving the extra innings issue. Any game that lasts longer than 11 innings would be suspended. At the end of the season, games that have no relevance to getting in the playoffs would be formally declared a tie. (Ties could still be factored into playoff seeding). All relevant suspended games would have to be completed in a marathon sprint at the end of the season. These suspended games could be played back to back at a neutral location, or you can make teams zip around the nation, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World style. Think of teams having to play multiple high stakes, one, two or three runs games with a playoff berth on the line. Anyone leading after a whole inning, wins. All of these teams would be on the bubble anyway, so there would be some cosmic justice to the exercise. This would lead to great television, innovative strategies and place a spike into the head of the zombie runner. I’m sure the players would hate this more than extra innings, but it would be fun.
  • Timothy (Patreon): I dislike both the All-Star Game and the Zombie Runner rule, so I’ve been imagining a way to solve them both. First, let all tie games go into the tenth, with no zombie runners; but if they're still tied after that, suspend them. Then, instead of the All-Star Game, assemble all the affected teams in one place and finish all the games in one epic day, starting at, say, 7 a.m. The turnaround between games wouldn’t have to be long because any one of them would do little damage to the field, and most players would have time to warm up during the other games. The schedule could theoretically let most teams play their games in relatively quick succession, with the better teams getting more favorable arrangements, perhaps. We’d have to do it again at the end of the season, but we could skip the ties that wouldn't affect the standings, and the ones that did might have huge implications for the playoffs. That would be high-stakes baseball and not stupid—a win-win! How crazy a dream is this? P.S. I might be somewhat influenced in this idea by the annual Marvin Rotblatt Day at Carleton College, where students play an inning of softball for each year the college has existed—155 and counting.
  • Emily (Patreon): I saw a Twitter post regarding the Cardinals come from behind win to extend their hot streak to 12 games, and the post said that the Cardinals "refused to lose." Well, how different would baseball be if the losing team had to consent to accept the loss? After every inning the losing team would have the option to accept the loss. If they refuse to lose, they play one more inning. They accept, the game ends. What do you think?
  • Pieter: Just a random question. I regularly ask myself this when I see a catcher setting up in a certain way. For example, dropping on a knee, glove outside the zone and low. Is there no way that the batter can see this, out of the corner of his eye, and infer information on pitch location? This might be a really basic question. I have never played baseball myself (I live in Europe, only a few of us do :-) ). So I don't have a feel for what you can see at the plate. Maybe it's just physically impossible. Or maybe the risk of taking your eyes of the pitcher is too high. But often the catcher makes it so clear with his glove where he is expecting the pitch, that it makes me wonder if this isn't a skill batters should try to develop.
  • Ben (Patreon): As I write this, we are 20 hours away from the Australian Rules Football grand final. I recall you were both amused by the Aussie football “father son rule” in relation to the draft, so I thought you’d find this other bit of information interesting. The only players to a receive a premiership medal (the equivalent of a World Series ring) are the 22 players who make up the winning team on grand final day. That is, a player may: play every single game throughout the home and away season (the regular season), play in the first three rounds of the finals (the playoffs/post-season), win the Brownlow Medal (MVP), and win the Coleman Medal (leading goal kicker); but if he gets injured and cannot play in the grand final - he will not receive a premiership medal if his team wins. I thought you’d find this interesting. I still have no idea who is eligible for a World Series ring. But it seems they hand those out like candy (aka lollies).


  • Ben's recording setup had an unknown issue causing some less than optimal audio.