Welcome to Should I Listen To This?, where we deep-dive into a podcast to find out what it’s about, what works, what doesn’t, and whether or not you need to make the all-important decision to hit subscribe and add it to your rotation.
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Podcast: The Ringer MLB Show
Network: The Ringer
What Is It?: It’s an MLB podcast that talks about on-field results, new-age stats, and everything surrounding the game itself. Even though baseball is a daily constant during the summer, this show does not act as a recap/preview podcast. Rather, it hooks onto longer-term storylines to analyze those.
Who’s The Host?: Ringer baseball writers Ben Lindbergh and Michael Baumann split hosting duties. While their main roles are as MLB writers, they also cover prospects, video games, and plenty of MLB-adjacent topics.
What’s a Normal Episode Like?: New episodes are released on Mondays and Thursdays. The hosts spend some of the time debating with each other and the rest of it interviewing guests. Discussions tend to be well-researched and stat-heavy, though both Baumann and Lindbergh are aware statistics are imperfect.
Recent guests have included Hank Azaria to promote Brockmire, Rob Mains of Baseball Prospectus, future Hall of Famer Chipper Jones, and John Olerud’s father. It’s a shorter format conversation with these guests and it can feel like an insightful roundtable at times.
When only talking with each other, Baumann and Lindbergh are pretty nerdy in the best way possible. I really enjoyed their small sample size analysis of the season’s opening week.
April episodes have been exclusive to TuneIn, which means the iTunes feed has not been updated in a while. There are also tie-ins, where Lindbergh and Baumann take a minute or two each day to give a TuneIn-sponsored play of the day. Not sure if this will last the rest of the season, but I kind of like them. They give you a couple of neat facts about a big moment in under a minute, though I wish the hosts would mention the broadcaster on the call like on the Baseball Tonight scoreboard podcast.
Who Is It For?: The title makes it abundantly clear: MLB fans. For player data, it’s going to consider analytics much heavier than the eye test. But the show will also have interviews with dermatologists about Rich Hill’s blisters and MLB The Show 17’s community manager to talk about the game.
Who Is It Not For?: Harold Reynolds, for one. It’s also not for fans like my father, who cannot understand what OPS is, let alone wRC+ or FIP. The podcast feed is unfocused at times, as the hosts will do interviews with baseball-adjacent guests instead of giving player data, not that it bothers me. If you want a show solely devoted to statistical analysis of MLB games and players, you won’t get that here, though you get it pretty often.
Can I Jump Right In?: Yes, though baseball is a sport that dates episodes extremely quickly. Luckily, since the show isn’t as worried about recapping a night’s worth of games, The Ringer MLB Show has a longer shelf life. An interview with Chipper Jones, even with a focus on his new book, will still be relevant next month. But when the hosts talk about games and trends, those can change in a week’s time.
What’s Not Great?: The TuneIn exclusivity sucks. Not releasing episodes on iTunes is keeping them away from a significant chunk of listeners. Yes, TuneIn is a free app, but it’s not the stock iOS podcasts app that makes it so easy to subscribe. It’s also not known as a podcast app, given that it is TuneIn Radio and all of the advertisements for premium talk about the ability to listen to live sports.
That’s about it. Yes, my sole complaint with the show is a managerial decision because the content is really entertaining. Guests tell neat stories because the hosts are knowledgeable enough to ask about them. Baumann and Lindbergh are fantastic writers and they clearly know and love baseball. While I wish they could be in the same room with each other and with their guests, that’s my only content-related complaint.
So, Should I Listen To This?: If you are a modern MLB fan, you should already be subscribed. It’s meant for people who argue over whether Baseball-Reference or Fangraphs have the better version of WAR. It’s also meant for people who care about baseball as more than just 27 outs and 162 games, which the interviews illustrate.
My only “complaint” is that The Ringer MLB Show is exclusive to TuneIn for the month of April. I can understand why this decision was made, but it don’t have to like it. While people seeking out this specific show will be able to find it on TuneIn, exclusivity closes the door to less tech-savvy listeners who don’t have TuneIn and who won’t subscribe to a show that hasn’t – at least on other apps – updated its feed in weeks.
Bottom Line – TL;DR: The Ringer MLB Show is a fantastic baseball podcast…though you might have some trouble listening to it this month.