About Josh Brown

Josh is the co-host of Knockahoma Nation. He's written for the Rome News Tribune, as well as Fansided's Tomahawk Take, and he's been published on Fox Sports. He lives with his wife and dogs somewhere in the mountains near Boone, NC.

Posts by Josh Brown:

Piece of Kake; how the Atlanta Braves won the off-season

Nick Markakis might hit .180 this year. He also might hit .290. Oh dear God, I just used batting average.

Listen, as I’ve said several times on the podcast before, Yasiel Puig was my first choice for a right field option in Atlanta for 2019. I even wrote about this two years ago. Puig, in my opinion, would have been a perfect fit for this Atlanta Braves squad. Put Yasiel Puig‘s personality and energy in this Braves’ clubhouse with Camargo, Ronnie, Albies, Dansby and Brian Snitker, and I’ll show you a World Series contender. But, to no avail, Yasiel went to the Reds and I was sad.

Michael Brantley would have also been a great fit for the Atlanta Braves. In many ways, right fielder Michael Brantley is similar to Nick Markakis. But, he’s slightly younger and has more power. But, Michael Brantley and his agent took an offer from the Houston Astros. Can you blame them? Google the Houston Astros. Then Google income tax in Texas. Then get mad that “the Braves didn’t land Michael Brantley” and delete your account.

Then, after some of these guys landed elsewhere, the most controversial thing in Braves history happened. The Atlanta Braves announced that they had signed Nick Markakis, out of Young Harris, to a one-year $4 million guaranteed deal and Twitter melted.

Before I explain why bringing back Markakis was a pivotal move for the Atlanta Braves, I feel like I need to give you my history with the extremely controversial political figure we know as Nick Markakis, out of Young Harris.

There’s this interesting hate, mainly on Braves Twitter, aimed at Nick Markakis. I discovered this back in 2016 when I wrote this article for Tomahawk Take. This was back when I approached Braves Twitter in an honest way. Back when I was a good person. Back then, I still wanted to have relatively serious baseball discussions with folks – share my thoughts, debate, learn, disagree, and have fun. But, then I wrote “the article.” When I wrote it and shared it on Twitter, you would have thought I wrote something about abortion or “the wall.” The advanced metrics folks came at me with pitchforks like I was Dracula himself and I loved it.

That’s when I became Nick Markakis’ biggest defender on the Twitters. It was an accident, I swear. I didn’t become his biggest defender because I thought he was the best right fielder in baseball. It was simply because I found it humorous that so many people hated him just because he hit singles and doubles and drove in runs. (And, because I’m immature and enjoy attention.) So, because I am a giant child, I began mocking the Markakis hate. I began tweeting about him like he was Hank Aaron. Most folks “got it” but many analytical goobers who have no sense of humor would take serious offense to my loud claims that Nick Markakis was the greatest of all time. For good or bad, I digressed from an aspiring baseball writer to a guy who mocked advanced metrics. I know, I’m terrible. There was no money in baseball writing anyway.

Then, 2018 happened. Most Braves bloggers spent the entirety of last off-season talking about Nick Markakis like he was a replacement-level player. Many of them literally said that he was a replacement-level player. The guys over at Talking Chop vehemently said that the Braves should release him and talked about how the Braves should start Preston Tucker in right field. I would hear and see these things and laugh. Not because I thought Kakes was Mookie Betts, but because, even at his worse, he wasn’t a replacement-level player (at least not yet). I mean, “Nicky Singles Kakes” actually had the second-most doubles in baseball, behind Robinson Cano, since 2010. Was he Trout or Betts? No. Good grief, he wasn’t even Michael Brantley. But the man could still hit, and I knew this. Then, while these folks were raking ole Kakes over the coals, the craziest thing happened. Nick Markakis, out of Young Harris, hit a walk-off home run on Opening Day. My Twitter mentions exploded. People were tweeting at me like I had just won the lottery after I had defended this guy. I had to remind folks that I wasn’t actually Nick Markakis.

Then, Kakes proceeded to play out of his mind. From Opening Day thru May 31st, Nick Markakis threw up a 142 wRC+ HITTING IN THE CLEANUP SPOT. It made no sense.

Now, let me clarify. Up until this point, I was a Talking Chop listener. I genuinely enjoyed their podcast. While I didn’t agree with everything they said, I listened and enjoyed it. They followed us on Twitter and we were buds. I think. Then, one day in April, I tweeted this video. I thought it was funny and I expected a re-tweet or maybe some jovial trash talking banter. Instead, Talking Chop blocked myself and the podcast, and even my podcast co-host, Ken Hendrix, who never said anything to them. We even received a long email about how we disrespected them. This was when I realized that there is a subset of people, mainly Braves bloggers (it’s not limited to a few individuals at Talking Chop) who took this stuff way too seriously. And because I’m extremely immature, I had fun with it. We broadcasted that TC had blocked us and people loved it. We began getting tweets and DMs from random Braves fans thanking us and telling us that they’d also been blocked by TC because they disagreed with one of their baseball takes. We (Knockahoma Nation) were like the Robin Hood of Braves Twitter and we accepted these outcasts with open replacement-level arms.

The reason that video was funny was because Nick Markakis didn’t have any business throwing up those numbers. He actually wasn’t that good. Everyone knew it. Hell, he probably knew it! For about two months in 2018, he played like he was Mookie Betts. So, because Nick Markakis was an average offensive guy, and because Brian Snitker was hellbent on hitting him in the cleanup spot (a spot that he had no business hitting in) his out-of-this world performance was hilarious. The old guy with no power was throwing down a 142 wRC+ IN THE CLEANUP SPOT. How is that not funny? However, some folks didn’t think it was funny. They hated it. They hated it because (believe it or not) they find their identity in their baseball takes. So, when the guy who they’ve hated on for two years plays out of his mind, then makes the All-Star team, then wins a Silver Slugger AND a Gold Glove, they get angry and personally offended.

I’ve watched baseball long enough to know that the chances of Nick Markakis, out of Young Harris, repeating what he did last year are almost impossible, and there’s no shying away from how bad he was the second half of last year. (Although, he he did have a 147 wRC+ with RISP and and a 194 wRC+ with 2 outs and RISP in the second half. No one wants to talk about that, tho. I’m sorry. Don’t get triggered.)

But here’s why bringing him back is good for the Atlanta Braves:

First of all – It’s a cheap deal. It’s $4 million. So, even if he’s terrible, and he might be terrible, in the world of baseball it’s not a big loss. It’s barely a loss at all. Should the Braves have gone after a different guy for right field? Probably. But, Brantley picked the Astros, Puig was traded to the Reds, and Pollock picked the Dodgers. This left the Braves with Bryce Harper. Would Bryce Harper serve the Braves better in 2019 than Nick Markakis? Hell yes. But, should the Braves give Bryce Harper (who had a lower WAR than Dansby Swanson in 2018) a 10-year $330 million deal? Hell no. No one should. (Yes. I, too, think that Harper is better than his 2018 WAR, so settle down. But 10 years is stupid.) My co-host, Ken Hendrix, and myself would be all about the Braves giving Harper a super strong/high AAV 4-5 year deal. We’ve made this known on our replacement-level podcast. But, I think he’ll get 10 years somewhere else.

Secondly – It’s fantastic for the young players. Some fans think Nick Markakis is nothing but a bump on a log. Kakes makes it very easy to perceive him this way, so I get it. His interviews are relatively emotionless and he rarely smiles on camera. But, players, coaches and the beat writers who cover the team will tell you that the players love him. And (this is a very controversial opinion) leadership matters in a clubhouse. Hell, the man threatened to kick John Hart‘s ass, and if you don’t love that, you’re a communist.

As David O’Brien wrote 

No moment was more a microcosm of the Braves’ crumbling fortunes and front-office dysfunction in the third season of their rebuild than the night in late August when deposed closer Jim Johnson blew an eighth-inning lead and then-president of baseball operations John Hart dressed down manager Brian Snitker. Shouting at him so loudly in the manager’s office that some players heard from the clubhouse.

And perhaps nothing better exemplifies Nick Markakis and what he stands for than the veteran right fielder’s reaction upon hearing what Hart said to Snitker, who appeared almost ashen and uncharacteristically sullen minutes later when reporters entered the office, and really was never quite himself again the rest of the season.

Markakis made it known, had the message sent up the chain, that if Hart ever treated the manager that way again that Markakis would, in so many words, kick his ass.

Finally  – As a fan, I think it’s fun to have a familiar face on the team, someone who’s been part of your respective team for years. Let me explain. Baseball, in many regards, has become this rent-a-team sort of thing. To me, that’s no fun. At some point, you’re just rooting for clothes. Retaining your players is a beautiful thing and it’s something that has been lost these days. Personally, I love it. I recently joked on the podcast that I’d love to see Dansby Swanson stay with the Braves until he’s 40 no matter how good or bad he is. Because, dammit, he’s ours.

There’s this notion that the Atlanta Braves have lied to their fans and haven’t spent any money. Listen, I heard what the front office said last year. I talked to my friend Jeff Schultz about it on the phone earlier this week. The constant whining from Braves bloggers on Twitter about how the Atlanta Braves haven’t spent any money this off-season is lazy and ignorant. Up until yesterday there were 75 free agents left on the market. 11 of them were worth more than 1.0 fWAR last season. 28 of them were at least 35 years old (37%). Shout-out to Matt Chrietzberg over at Outfield Fly Rule for that info. Did the Atlanta Braves say that they’d be able to “shop on any aisle” in 2019? Yes. But, besides a few at the very top, this has been one of the weakest free agent classes I’ve seen in years.

Have other teams in the NL East made more additions in this off-season than the Atlanta Braves? Yes. But they also don’t have Touki Toussaint, Ozzie Albies, Ronald Acuna, the return of Mike Soroka, and Josh Donaldson. The Braves also outbid 12 other MLB teams for Mike Fast, the guy who made the Houston Astros who they are today. Do I think the Braves still need a corner outfielder? Yes. Do I think they need a bullpen arm? Yes. I think they’ll actually get a starting pitcher before Opening Day. But this young team will be better than they were in 2018 just by showing up.

So, even if good ole Nick Markakis takes a nose dive, it’s still a fantastic signing for the Atlanta Braves. If he’s terrible they’ll find someone else to play RF every day and the world will go on. I actually think he’ll start off ultra hot and then crash back down to Earth, at which point I’ll still tweet about him like he’s Hank Aaron. But for now, I’ll have my Kake and eat it too as I root for the ageless bearded wonder while many of you are crying about his wRC+ from your mother’s basement.

Knockahoma Nation Episode 94

This week’s podcast is just a good ole fashioned bar talk. Just three friends sharing their hot takes. No guests, no special segments, just classic Knockahoma Nation.

This week the boys get into:

  • Tom Glavine in the first inning
  • Dustin Diamond
  • Hits are good
  • Runs batted in matter
  • Trevor Bauer
  • The boys play Braves GM (Kimbrel?)
  • Kenny and the FFA
  • and much more!

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Bring back the win

First of all, the title of this article might trigger some folks. But, that’s what I’m here for. I follow my heart.

Let me first get this out of the way – The pitching stat(s) that we know as “wins and losses” do not currently matter the way the game is played. To reference a current pitcher’s wins and loss record in the year 2019 shows that you don’t have a grasp on baseball. They haven’t mattered for a long time. Peter Moylan had one “loss” last year and Chad Sobotka was credited with a “win.”

You’ve probably seen the, now infamous, cringe-worthy video of PTI’s Michael Wilbon ranting about how Jacob deGrom shouldn’t have won the 2018 Cy Young Award because of his wins and loss record. It was an embarrassing moment for Wilbon, but what’s even more embarrassing is the fact that Wilbon didn’t understand why it was embarrassing. Just to recap – deGrom’s “record” was 10-9 but he had a 1.70 ERA with a 0.912 WHIP and over 250 strikeouts. In other words – in 2019 Jacob deGrom did his job on a team that couldn’t make contact with the broad side of a barn. He was the first pitcher since 1913 to allow 3 or less runs in 25 straight starts.

In 1987 there were 29 guys who threw at least 220 innings. In 1990, there were 20. In the year 2000, there were 14. In 2004, there were 11. In 2014, there were 8. And, in 2018, there was 1 – Max Scherzer.

In 1988 Orel Hershiser threw 267 innings and had 15 complete games. The last time someone threw at least 267 innings in a season was in 1999 when Randy Johnson did it. The Big Unit pitched for 22 seasons and averaged 230 innings each season. To my knowledge, his arm never fell off and he made a lot of money.

Let’s go ahead and get the elephant out of the room – pitching injuries.

I don’t care about pitching injuries. It’s not my job to care about pitching injuries. I am a baseball fan and I want to be entertained. Let me explain.

I grew up watching John Smoltz. Smoltz and Terry Pendleton were my favorite Atlanta Braves. Before his bullpen days, when he was a starter, Smoltz would take the mound with every intention on finishing the game in question. You could tell by watching him. It was his mound. It was his game. Sometimes his nostrils would flare up (just slightly) and I would honestly feel bad (at least for a moment) for the batter and for the batter’s immediate family. More times than not, he wouldn’t finish the game that he started. But he would go deep. And, when Bobby would trot out to the mound to take the ball from John, and hand over the reigns to the bullpen, John was pissed. Real pissed. The expression on his face, each time he left the game, was always of someone who thought he knew better than his manager. John Smoltz just could not believe that someone would have audacity to take him out of a baseball game. He was fully confident that, whatever the jam was, he could get out of it better than any bullpen arm on Earth. It was beautiful. And, even though he completed 6 of his 35 games started in 1996, he still “won” 24 games that year. His offense sort of helped that year, too, granted.

Listen, wins have never been the best way to gauge a pitcher and complete games have never been the norm. Relief pitchers and bullpens have been around since the 1870s. I’m reading a book right now called The Pen Men, by Bob Cairns, about the history of the relief pitcher. Pitching changes is no new thing. But seven or eight pitching changes during a game certainly is new.

It’s also important to acknowledge that, even when wins mattered (or at least when they mattered more), a starting pitcher’s record was sometimes only as good as the offense on his respective team.

Look at 1976 Tom Seaver.

The Mets were okay at the plate that year, but nothing to write home about. Because the Mets were okay offensively that year, they were also okay at scoring runs, which gave Tom Seaver (former Atlanta Brave first-round pick) a record of 14-11. But Tom had a 2.54 ERA that year, which sounds and looks more bad ass than a 14-11 record. So, what do I say to that? Sometime’s life’s not fair and if sports were fair, they wouldn’t be sports.

So, as we can see in 1976 – wins, even in 1976, were not everything. They’ve never been everything. But they mattered a lot more. Why? Because Tom pitched 271 innings that year and completed 13 of his 35 games started. He had much more ownership in those games and because he had more ownership, the records meant more, and Tom was pissed each time he cashed in a stellar performance only to see his team suck. Getting pissed in sports is a beautiful thing.

This ancient ideology of wins and losses also put more ownership on the bullpen. The last thing you wanted to do, if you were Rollie Fingers or Lee Smith, was to blow the game, the game in which the starting pitcher believed was his to win or lose. It was beautiful.

So, why does any of this matter? Why should I care about innings pitched and wins and losses? Shouldn’t I just care if my favorite baseball team wins or loses the game? Perhaps. But, I care about wins and losses and innings pitched because I like to watch a competitor on live TV, and because I hate commercials.

It’s like my friend Jim Kaat acknowledges on Episode 78 of Knockahoma Nation – Sure, you could probably be effective with 27 pitching changes, but that’s not entertaining. One guy, with the weight on his shoulders, who’s been charged with finishing what he started, is entertaining. And guess what? Baseball players are entertainers and I want to be entertained. Too many Tommy John surgeries? That’s not my problem. Learn how to pitch.

So, what’s the fix? I think it starts with youth baseball. Two things – kids are playing year-round and they’re throwing too hard too early and too much (which has led to a historic rise in arm injuries). What we are seeing now at the minor league level (in general) are a bunch of guys who know how to use their arms but not their brains. Listen, I know we have 100 years of data showing us that pitchers are less effective the third time thru an order, but we’ve over-corrected and it’s annoying. Instead of teaching these kids how to use their brains and how to adjust, we’ve taken the easy way out. We now take them out after the 5th or 6th inning, instead of pushing them to out-think the opposition, and I’m left with way too many damn commercial breaks and by September I’m watching football.

The answer to this is way above my pay grade. I’m merely a replacement-level podcaster. But, in my perfect world kids would only play baseball in the summer months, and pitchers would only get taken out of the game if they were getting their ass handed to them. Let’s go back to the days when wins mattered more because those were the days when you watched one guy, with the weight on his shoulders, on live TV, try to finish what he started.

Commercials suck and Dave Roberts is an idiot.*

Editor’s Note: *Dave Roberts is reportedly an idiot because he pulled Rich Hill from a no hitter.

SEC Championship Tailgate Show

The people have asked for more content and Knockahoma Nation has spoken. Please enjoy our very special mid-week SEC Championship Tailgate show with special guest Barrett Sallee from CBS Sports.

Barrett is an accomplished national writer and college football analyst, but more importantly he’s an Atlanta native and Braves fan. He joins the boys to break down Saturday’s SEC Championship game between Bama and Georgia and to talk a little Braves baseball.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Knockahoma Nation on iTunes, CastBox or Stitcher.

Knockahoma Nation Episode 86

This week the boys recap Thanksgiving. Josh had a special moment with his father-in-law and Kenny went to Cracker Barrel. How sad.

They also talk about this weekend’s college football rivalry match-ups and then JT goes off the rails about Bryce Harper. Maybe JT and Bryce could start their own podcast. 

Also we finish our talk with @BravesStats about baseball and stats and the Braves (bet you didn’t see that coming).

Also – Stay tuned for a very special mid-week college football episode with a very special guest!

Don’t forget to subscribe to Knockahoma Nation on iTunes, CastBox or Stitcher.

Knockahoma Nation Episode 85

This week on the show we have our friend Paul. Paul runs a very cool Twitter account called @BravesStats, where he is a beacon of fantastic Atlanta Braves facts. In an ever-increasing politically divisive online community, Paul’s a breath of fresh air.

Josh, Kenny, and J.T. also jump into some college football recaps. They may or may not have thrown some serious shade at Georgia Tech. Listen to find out. 

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ALSO – Consider supporting Knockahoma Nation on Patreon. It will cost you nearly nothing, and you’ll get cool swag and help the boys pay for this thing.

Baseball’s Shortage of Balls

Baseball has a balls problem, and it’s not the juiced kind.

The WWE figured out a long time ago that men like to be men. The NFL has tried running from the fact that men like to be men, but to no avail – it’s a contact sport, and they can’t run from it. The UFC has stopped trying to be politically correct and they’ve thrived because of it.

But baseball? Baseball’s becoming a watered-down safe space where, under no circumstances, can a player or a manager hurt the feelings of another. And, if you do hurt someone’s feelings in baseball, you’re pressured by every writer and analyst to give a public apology within at least 48 hours.

Remember when Blue Jays manager John Gibbons made his “extremely sexist” comments about dresses two years ago? Gibbons was frustrated with MLB’s new slide rule and in an interview he said, “Maybe we’ll come out in dresses tomorrow.” at which point every humorless nancy in sports wrote articles like this one dragging Gibbons thru the coals.

Baseball is becoming so emasculated that grown men cried for two days when Bill James simply said that ballplayers were replaceable. When the king of nerds Bill James makes grown men cry, you know it’s bad. You could have solved the Flint, Michigan water crisis with Tony Clark’s tears.

The problem is probably much deeper than baseball. I think I started to notice it a few years ago when anti-bullying campaigns began sweeping across the nation. I think they are still. I’ve seen anti-bullying slogans on TV, around actual little league baseball complexes (signs that say “THIS IS A NO BULLYING ZONE”), and all over social media. All of which are fantastic. We should most definitely teach our kids not to bully, and we should team them that no one likes a bully and that bullies never win and never get laid.

But, more importantly, we should teach our kids how to kick a bully’s ass. Perhaps this is where it started and it’s eventually made its way to baseball. I’m not entirely sure. Kids grow up these days not learning how to kick a bully’s ass, and instead learning how to “report a bully.” What good is reporting a bully going to do? If your 9-year-old kid is getting bullied, reporting said bully is only going to make your kid get bullied even more for being a narc.

“But what if my 9-year-old kid is simply too small to overcome the bully?” Well, there’s a few ways to go about this. One way is to teach your 9-year-old how to talk some trash. Another way, and this is very important, is to teach your 9-year-old how to make friends. If he’s got friends, then he’s less likely to get bullied and if he does get bullied, there’s a decent chance that he’ll have a friend who can take up for him.

I wasn’t the best fighter. I was mostly a trash talker who knew how to make friends. I was okay in one-on-one bouts, but one day in sixth grade a group of kids jumped me and tried to steal my bike after school at Purks Middle School in Cedartown, Georgia. There was nothing that I could physically do. I was too small and I was outnumbered. That’s when my friend Rustin Hilburn jumped in and whooped some ass. I’m not sure how big Rustin Hilburn was at the time, but he appeared to be at least 8 feet tall and wore camo Rocky boots. Had I not made friends with Rustin, I might have lost my Schwinn Qualifier Pro that day.

Sorry. Back to the subject at hand. One of the biggest ways baseball has been emasculated, in my opinion, has been instant replay. This is going to trigger some people. Listen, I understand the values of replay. I think getting a call correct is better than getting a call wrong. But, I don’t care. I hate instant replay.

Here’s the deal about replay – Umpires have actually been getting calls right most of the time since the 1800s. Do they get it wrong sometimes? Of course they do, and those are the ones we remember. Have you ever argued over a beer with your buddy at the bar about your favorite Sam Holbrook call? I didn’t think so.

Here’s what replay has done – It’s taken away all confrontations, a very important part of being a man. A man without the ability to argue is kind of like a 2-wheel-drive Jeep. A sport played by men and for men (and the Knockahoma Nation Queens) has taken away arguments! There are no more (for the most part) manager ejections, and no more spitting and cursing in umpires faces. The Lord gave us umpires so that we could yell at them. And now, the only thing we’re left yelling about is Nick Markakis’ route efficiency. We’re yelling at metrics and not men anymore. This is the beginning of the end.

I want to watch baseball to be entertained. I don’t want to watch baseball for maximum efficiency and maximum productivity. I want to be entertained. Give me a dramatic play call to end the innings and then cut to a commercial immediately so that I can either be pissed off or elated. If you replace that with a three minute replay review, you take away any argument or dispute and it’s no damn fun. Peace and harmony never helped anyone. This is America.

Bring back the win. Why? Not because I don’t think specialty pitchers are more effective. Not because I don’t believe that a pitcher struggles the third time thru the order. But, because I want to see a grown man, a bulldog, a fighter, try to overcome a lineup because it’s his game to win or lose. If he’s getting rocked in the 7th inning, I fully expect the manager to take him out and I fully expect said starting pitcher to be extremely offended for being taken out. 

I want to see a grown man, a bulldog, a fighter, try to overcome a lineup because it’s his game to win or lose. Like the time when Mike Mussina angrily told Joe Torre to stay in the dugout.

Baseball used to be a battlefield. Blocking the plate and sliding in high to second were cornerstones of manliness. Sports aren’t supposed to be safe. Hell, we pay guys millions of dollars in part because they aren’t the least bit safe. 

Now, in 2018, Manny Machado barely brushes his foot against a first baseman (Yes, it was a dirty play. Yes, Manny is trash. No, I didn’t like it.) and everyone acts like Manny Machado has committed mass murder. He was simply playing ugly. Which was shitty, I will grant you. But it was also beautiful. A few years ago Manny would have worn a changeup in the ear or a taken a nice punch straight from Jesus Aguilar right in the jaw.

Many of the new rules have been implemented with good intentions. We don’t want guys getting critically injured. We don’t want guys ruining their careers. But we cannot police everything. Ben Franklin once famously said “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” These well intentioned measures have little by little combined to castrate the iconic masculinity from what was once (and still should be) a “man’s game”, to not allowing men to play like men.

This isn’t an argument that women have no place in baseball (it couldn’t be further from that), but instead it’s that a sport once built around the strengths (and weaknesses) of “toxic” or I prefer “rugged” masculinity may lose it’s identity altogether by trying to be ‘safe’ and ‘clean’. Baseball’s too focused on “being a stand up guy” and “standing up to cancer” rather than standing up to the guy trying to score. If you can’t stand up to the guy trying to score, then how can we expect anyone to truly stand up to anything?

It’s time for baseball to embrace it’s identity rather than hide from it by pretending to be something it isn’t. It’s time for baseball to get its balls back.

Knockahoma Nation Episode 83

First of all, the boys at Knockahoma Nation would like to congratulate Nick Markakis, out of Young Harris, for winning his third glove. According to FanGraphs, that’s three more than Brad Rowland has won.

On this week’s show, J.T. returns to talk some college football. Is Notre Dame overrated? Can Georgia stand toe-to-toe with Bama? Is Tua a little overrated?

The boys also talk about some of the latest news around baseball, from the Kershaw signing, to the Braves picking up Raffy Lopez.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Knockahoma Nation on iTunes, CastBox or Stitcher.

Also – If you’re not a Patreon member, consider becoming one! Supporting Knockahoma Nation on Patreon will allow the boys to pay for some of their overhead and to bring you even more content throughout the week. Go here for more info: https://www.patreon.com/KnockahomaNation

Knockahoma Nation Episode 82

Welcome to another week of the Knockahoma Nation podcast show. This week the boys bring on their friend J.T. to recap Saturday’s college football match-ups.

Josh and Kenny go on to discuss the every-changing landscape of baseball – the steep decline of African Americans in the game, pitching changes, dingers, etc. They might also talk about Trump, so please consider listening under the supervision of a friend.

Don’t forget to subscribe to Knockahoma Nation on iTunes, CastBox or Stitcher.

The Politics of Baseball

It’s a divided world out there, in more ways than one. Especially these days. Highly opinionated sports fans have always been part of the fabric of America. But are things changing? Are men forgetting how to debate and talk to each other?

For decades men would gather at a local watering hole after work, or perhaps at some type of general store in the mornings to discuss baseball and to exchange opinions while engaging in debate. This was done in person, to another man’s face. They’d recap the previous night’s base ball contest and challenge one another’s opinions. “Is Mickey Mantle really better than Joltin’ Joe?” “Hell no he’s not! Joe was the best there ever was!”

At bars in Boston, they’d argue about Slaughter’s Mad Dash for years to come. “If DiMaggio never came out of the damn game, Slaughter wouldn’t have scored. Culberson’s got a wet noodle for an arm,” one man says to another man (in person) at which point another man says (to the other man’s face) “That’s bullshit. Slaughter was going to score no matter what. Culberson should have started the god damn game anyway if you ask me.” During said conversation no one’s feelings were ever hurt. In fact, more times than not, they’d end up becoming friends. Even close friends.

In the year of our Lord 2018, you don’t have to worry about the consequences of a bad idea. You don’t have to worry about winning an argument or defending an opinion. You have Twitter now. For no charge at all, you can create a Twitter account, using whatever name you’d like along with whatever photo you’d like. Your grandfather would exchange ideas in person, in public, while you get to exchange your ideas from the shield of anonymity via your mother’s basement.

Furthermore, it seems that the actual political divide we are experiencing right now in this country sometimes bleeds into baseball. Am I the only one noticing this? We see “the mob” mentality all over baseball Twitter and if you don’t have an erection over advanced stats, you must hate all advance stats and you’re probably a Trump supporter. And, under no circumstances, can you have these debates in person.

On one side of the aisle you have guys like Joe Simpson, Chip Caray, Jeff Francoeur, John Smoltz and Dale Murphy. On the other side of the aisle you have an angry mob telling guys like Murph how stupid they are for not adhering to the fact that wRC+ is a much more accurate representation of a player’s offensive story than batting average.

On one side of the aisle you have Jim Kaat. A guy who pitched in the big leagues for 25 years, who faced both Ted Williams and Julio Franco, and while he wasn’t as effective the third time thru the order and owns the fact that the last six outs are the hardest, he offers to speak with you. And on the other side of the aisle, you have Twitter accounts operated by grown men who aren’t ready to speak to other men in person.

American politics has placed everyone in one of two buckets. It’s always sort of been this way, I think. We’ve always been a little divided, but not like this. Now, more so than at any other point in American history, we seem to be completely confined to only TWO boxes. How depressing is that? We opinionated and complex humans are confined to just one of two boxes.

In 2018, it’s impossible to like part of one thing and part of another thing. I thought Hillary Clinton would have actually done a decent job as President. But I don’t really care for Hillary Clinton. And if I say these things publicly, I’d be painted with a broad brush. Based on everything I’ve read and seen, I still haven’t found any evidence to indict Donald Trump as a racist. But, can you imagine if I said that publicly?

This very same mindset has bled into baseball. If you like Nick Markakis, out of Young Harris, you are not also allowed to like a guy who just hits for power and strikes out a lot. If you question WAR, you must hate all advanced stats. If you refer to someone’s batting average, you’re a traditionalist and you hate wOBA.

Perhaps the extreme political divide has driven the engine towards not debating face-to-face. Or perhaps, it’s the vehicle – Twitter. Either way, it’s sad. As long as men grow increasingly dependent on keeping their arguments confined to a keyboard, they’ll continue to get weaker, and weaker men will continue to give us a weaker society.

Do yourself a favor and go sit at a bar and strike up a conversation with someone. You’ll be surprised at your ability to carry on with someone (in person) if you allow yourself to get away from Twitter. Then, get that person’s number. Keep in touch. Maybe meet at said bar each week. Or maybe even at Waffle House. Invite others. Maybe like four or five (be selective). And eventually you’ll have a group. A weekly baseball group. The bartenders or servers will get to know you and eventually slip you a free drink here or there. And most importantly, you’ll feel better about yourself.