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What was different 16 1/2 years ago

February 26, 2020 • 8:50 PM

I just got back from a wonderful vacation to a couple cities I last visited in 2003, while a college student. It was the first time my co-pilot and daughter had been there, and they had a wonderful time exploring the cities and seeing many of their topline attractions.

Throughout the trip, I kept thinking about what was different from 16 1/2 years ago. The cities, themselves, have slightly different skylines, but many of the most important landmarks we wanted to see are hundreds, if not thousands, of years old. By the end, I decided the biggest change was the phone I carried in my pocket, because it completely changed how I engaged with new places.

The Red Sox traded Mookie Betts because they don't care about you

February 4, 2020 • 7:00 PM

Mookie Betts is one of the five or six best baseball players in the world right now, and is likely to remain one of the best 10 or so players in the world over the next few seasons.

The Boston Red Sox just traded him away because they want to get under Major League Baseball's "competitive balance" tax, which serves as a deterrent against teams spending above...


Thanks, Bill. That's what I was preparing to spend 3,000 words explaining, but you did a much better job.

Let today's transaction wire serve as a reminder that even the Boston Red Sox, which has long defined itself in large part as an organization built upon the unusually intense passion of its fan base, doesn't actually care about its fans. Betts is exactly the player that a team should spend the most money it possibly can to keep, in that he's both an amazing player and BELOVED.

The Red Sox were about $17 million over the tax threshold as of January 11, 2020, per Cot's Contracts. You're telling me no team would take Chris Sale along with David Price? Or just Sale by himself? Even if you got less of a haul -- and I use "haul" liberally, given that Alex Verdugo is a good Major League player right now, but expecting him to be a superstar is folly -- you'd still have Betts! The best player on your team right now and for the foreseeable future! Why wouldn't you want that guy?

(Photo: "mookie betts" by Rob Larsen. Used under CC BY 2.0 license.)

Media Diet: January 2020

February 4, 2020 • 3:45 PM

This year I’m aiming to reflect on the media I consumed each month. Here, I’ve listed each book, movie, TV show season, and podcast I finished in January 2020. I’ve only included those works which I’d never completed previously, or which I’d finished so long ago it felt unfamiliar.

This is not my complete media diet. I also watched a lot of TV that isn’t worth recapping, notably a bunch of Simpsons episodes, plus NBA games. I also subscribe to several podcasts which I enjoy, but don’t listen to every episode: The Right Time with Bomani Jones, The Lowe Post, and WTF with Marc Maron.

I don’t have much loyalty to specific websites, but I do make sure every day to read Kottke, Dear Prudence on Slate (free entries only), and I check ESPN. I subscribe to several newsletters, but actively look forward to the ones from Will Leitch, Anne Helen Petersen, and the Action Cookbook by Scott Hines.

I’m in the midst of quitting Facebook as much as work allows, and someday I’ll find a way to kick my Twitter habit. Instagram sucks, too, but less than the other ones, probably because I’ve resisted following celebrities.

Let’s get to it.

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