May 28 2016

“Cuba’s Baseball Defectors” with author Peter Bjarkman


“All things considered there are only two kinds of men in the world -- those that stay at home and those that do not.  The second are the most interesting.”  -Rudyard Kipling

The stellar play and fascinating backstories of exiled Cuban ballplayers in Major League Baseball has become one of the biggest headlines in America's national pastime.  On-field exploits by Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig, Jose Abreu, Aroldis Chapman, and a handful of others have been further enhanced by feel-good tales of desperate Cuban superstars risking their lives to escape Castro’s communist realm and chase a celebrated American Dream of financial and athletic success.  But a truly ugly underbelly to this story has also slowly emerged, one that involves human smuggling operations financed by Miami crime syndicates, operated by Mexican drug cartels, and conveniently ignored by big league ball clubs endlessly searching for fresh waves of international talent.

In Cuba’s Baseball Defectors: The Inside Story, Cuban baseball expert Peter Bjarkman reveals the truth behind the wave of Cuban big league talent coming to Major League Baseball.  Given rare access to Cuba and its ballplayers, Bjarkman has spent over twenty years traveling to all corners of the island getting to know the top Cuban stars and witnessing their baseball struggles and triumphs.  Bjarkman places recent events -- including the apparent thaw in US-Cuba relations -- in the context of Cuban baseball history and tradition before delving into the stories of the major Cuban stars who have left the island.

Peter Bjarkman is the recognized authority on Cuba’s post-1961 revolutionary-era baseball.  He has witnessed domestic-league Cuban baseball firsthand on more than fifty visits to the communist country since 1997 and has also followed the Cuban national team to international events since 1999.  Bjarkman is a regular consultant on Cuban baseball for the North American media.

On a May evening, Peter Bjarkman led a packed Clubhouse in a master's class on Cuba's Baseball Defectors.  Listen in...


00:0000:00

May 13 2016

“The Only Rule Is It Has To Work” with Ben Lindbergh


What would happen if two statistics-minded outsiders were allowed to run a professional baseball team?

It’s the ultimate in fantasy baseball: You get to pick the roster, set the lineup, and decide on strategies -- with real players, in a real ballpark, in a real playoff race.

That’s what baseball analysts Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller got to do when an independent minor-league team in California, the Sonoma Stompers, offered them the chance to run its baseball operations according to the most advanced statistics.

Lindbergh and Miller applied their number-crunching insights to all aspects of assembling and running a team, following one cardinal rule for judging each innovation they tried: It Has To Work.

Ben Lindbergh is a staff writer for “FiveThirtyEight” and, with Sam Miller, the cohost of “Effectively Wild,” the daily “Baseball Prospectus” podcast. He is a former staff writer for “Grantland” and a former editor in chief of “Baseball Prospectus.”

It was standing-room-only in the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse for our discussion with Ben Lindbergh and "The Only Rule Is It Has To Work."  Have a seat and listen in...

00:0000:00

May 7 2016

“The Last Chicago Cubs Dynasty” with Hal Bock


“The Cubs became a metaphor for the underdog, the loser, lovable or not, that we as a species can’t help but instinctively pull for.”  -Joe Mantegna, actor

"The Last Chicago Cubs Dynasty: Before The Curse" by Hal Bock

The last time the Chicago Cubs played in the World Series, World War II had just ended.  The last time they won a World Series, World War I had not yet begun.  But from 1906 - 1910 the Cubs not only played in the World Series four of the five years, they won two World Championships, as well.  It was a time when the Cubs ruled baseball, and no one could have imagined the roller coaster adventures that were ahead for this grand old franchise.

Distinguished writer Hal Bock returned to the Bergino Baseball Clubhouse on a May evening and told the story of this legendary team, the characters who were central to its success, and the misfortunes which have plagued the team ever since.  During our Q&A, we had a wide-ranging baseball discussion.  Listen in and enjoy...

Hal Bock was a sportswriter and columnist with the Associated Press for over 40 years.  During that time he covered 30 World Series, none of them including the Cubs.

00:0000:00