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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Network: The Players’ Tribune
What Is It?: It’s a player-hosted podcast from The Players’ Tribune. Instead of diving into on-field results, this show focuses on everything but. Between storylines, pop culture, and life tips, there are times when it’s barely a sports podcast.
Who’s The Host?: Ryan Ruocco plays the role of facilitator on this podcast, at least in the first episode. He is the polished media professional. On the other mic is CC Sabathia, who probably took up podcasting in the twilight of his career because he saw Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye doing it in the NBA.
What’s a Normal Episode Like?: There’s some dialogue between the two hosts and an interview with a well-known guest. Since it’s a Players’ Tribune podcast, the first guest was Derek Jeter, obviously. A teaser for the podcast listed Jeff Van Gundy and Andy Pettitte as future guests.
As a Cleveland native, I have followed Sabathia’s career for as long as I can remember. He’s always had interests outside of baseball, so I know plenty of future guests will come from outside of the sports realm.
Who Is It For?: If you’re a fan of the bleached, story-driven tales that The Players’ Tribune is known for, then this will be more of that. It helps that Sabathia and Ruocco both come across as well-liked hosts.
Who Is It Not For?: If you hate how TPT presents its supposedly “real” player stories, you probably stopped reading this review already. It’s also not a hardcore analysis podcast, which should be clear going in.
I’m not sure baseball fans are as interested in culture-based podcasts about their sport as basketball fans are, which could limit the reach of this show.
Can I Jump Right In?: Get in on the ground level by subscribing now, because CC and Ruocco have released just one episode as of this writing.
What’s Not Great?: How “real” is this podcast going to get? Will Sabathia open up about his weight? Or about what it was like being traded in 2008? He hinted at how much more difficult New York media is compared to other cities, but that’s about the only introspective moment from him thus far.
For example, I didn’t hear anyone ask about the infamous Derek Jeter gift baskets. And I can’t imagine Ruocco or Sabathia hitting Pettitte hard on his alleged PED use. It’s going to be a light-hearted and entertaining podcast, but not necessarily informative or journalistic. That’s okay, but it doesn’t necessarily make this show different from most other podcasts.
The Players’ Tribune is an interesting website once in a while, but it also has issues like the Gordon Hayward free agency debacle. Will management allow Ruocco and Sabathia to move beyond the bad taste of superficiality I get when I visit the site?
So, Should I Listen To This?: CC Sabathia might be the perfect MLB player to host a podcast. He’s got a good voice, a big personality, and a sense of humor that has always separated him from the typical subdued mentality of players. That said, he’s likeable and not too over the top, which is what has gotten players like Jose Bautista and Yasiel Puig in trouble in the past.
Depending on the path future episodes take, my concerns are more with the limits The Players’ Tribune will put on the show rather than the quality and entertainment value Ruocco and Sabathia are capable of. Topics that are “off limits” will lessen the quality of the show, even if some fans won’t care. It’ll still be a solid show, but it will lack the 360-degree worldview of reality that TPT supposedly aims to achieve.
Bottom Line – TL;DR: Only time will tell if the Jeterian style of The Players’ Tribune will hamper a potentially great podcast from two charismatic hosts.