The Who’s to Blame for Tua’s Head Injury? Edition

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Josh Levin, Josh Levine: The following podcast contains explicit language. Hide your children.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Hi, I’m Josh Levine, Slate’s national editor, and this is coming up. And listen for the week of October 3rd, 2022. On this week’s show, we’re going to talk about how the NFL and the Miami Dolphins handled too tagovailoa’s head injury or more likely, head injuries. We’ll also discuss Aaron Judge’s quest for the American League homerun record. Or is it the real Major League Baseball’s home run record? And chess champion and poker pro Jennifer Shehadi will be here to discuss the cheating allegations in both those sports.


Josh Levin, Josh Levine: But rest assured, we’ve also submitted to drug tests, polygraphs and body cavity searches before the taping of this podcast. I’m in Washington, D.C., and I’m the author of The Queen and the host of the podcast. One Year, all seven episodes of our season and 1986 are out now, so binge away. Also in D.C. is Stefan FATSIS. He’s the author of the books Wild An Outside Word Freak and a Few Seconds of Panic in Chronological Order. Hello, Stefan.

Stefan Fatsis: Hey, Josh. Can I praise one year? I guess I’ll be okay.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Grudgingly.

Stefan Fatsis: The last the last installment. I mean, Joel, you were awesome. We’ve already praised you with the last installment. The man from Fifth Avenue about this dude who ends up being a Russian propaganda star is really fantastic. Josh, congratulations. And my question for you is, journalistically. So you find this video of this dude who gets taken to Moscow and used by the Soviets as an anti-capitalist example, and then you discover that he you know, he was in his late fifties in 1986, and then you discover that he’s alive, I mean and cogent and wants to talk. That must have been like journalistic heaven moment for you.


Josh Levin, Josh Levine: It’s true that it did feel kind of nice, actually. Yeah.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: My favorite moments in these shows and I don’t know if you agree, Joel, it’s like finding the right people or finding the person in this case and like, connecting with that person. Actually, in the moment of doing the interview, you’ve got to keep yourself on task without asking the questions while also thinking like I’m getting the stuff that I need to do there. So yeah, that was pretty fun.

Joel Anderson: Yeah, no, absolutely. And I mean, just does that over and over again in, you know, not just that episode. So yeah, I mean, I, you know, this is an opportunity for me to extend the praise, but I mean, you know, Josh does great work and this the season of one year.


Josh Levin, Josh Levine: You.

Joel Anderson: Know, no exception. No exception. So, I mean, but, you know, Josh is doing the heavy lift here. Don’t don’t try to put me on the same the same marquee line with you. You know, this is a Josh Levine production, you know, a concept and and it’s excellent.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: So, you know, even before he’s been introduced flattering me it’s the host of Slow Burn and Seasons three and six, a proud alum of undefeated Texas Christian University, which walloped Oklahoma behind the spectacular coaching of Sonny Dykes. Joel Anderson Congratulations.

Joel Anderson: Was it the spectacular coaching of Sonny Dykes or the subpar coaching of Brent Venables?


Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Is Utah?

Joel Anderson: Oklahoma defenses look a lot like the ones that he left behind when he moved on about 20 years ago from Oklahoma. So glad to see you looking like that. They’re getting ready for SCC. They’ll be losing by about 30 points every week.


Stefan Fatsis: To when they play.

Stefan Fatsis: You guys. TCU just crushed Oklahoma rebel in some positive manner.

Joel Anderson: It’s exciting. It’s great. I mean I’m excited to beat Oklahoma but like don’t don’t try to get me they get excited about Sonny Dykes because that’s just not going to happen.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Well, they’ve got a real opponent this coming week. So undefeated side. They got a they got to take on Kansas.


Joel Anderson: Undefeated Kansas at Kansas for college game day. Big, big, big week for my alma mater. So yeah, I’m excited about that. I’m excited to laud TCU’s greatness over everybody else. But don’t don’t try to make me praise Sonny Dykes because it’s not going to happen.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: In our Slate Plus segment this week, Job will praise Sonny Dykes. Now we’re going to talk about our streaming present and future. Some folks have asked us how we consume sports these days. So we’ll talk about that. And we’ll also talk about the Amazon Thursday Night Football presentation. If you want to hear that, you need to be a Slate Plus member. You get bonus segments on this show and other slate shows. You get to listen to podcasts ad free and you get to support us, which is always a nice thing to do. slash hang up, plus slash hang up, plus to sign up.


Joel Anderson: Hey, hang up in listeners heads up that we recorded the following segment early Monday morning before learning the Tua Tagovailoa is now in concussion protocol and will be held out of this week’s game against the Jets. Trailing 7 to 6 late in the second quarter at Cincinnati on Thursday, Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa dropped back to pass on second down. Here’s a clip.


Speaker 4: To a rolling left. Slung down his own 48 yard line. Josh to. Oh.

Joel Anderson: That Al Michaels came in response to to his condition at the end of the play, a set that ended with a Bengals lineman violently slinging come to the turf. The camera cut to a rolling over slowly after the hit, his eyes closed and with his hands crossed in what some call a fencing posture, a neurological response to head trauma. That part is important because two suffered what appeared to be a serious head injury the previous Sunday in a win over Buffalo. But tour was permitted to return to that game with what the team termed a back injury.


Joel Anderson: Now in Cincinnati with to an unconscious on the turf, it all seemed like a particularly reckless sequence of events. Over the weekend, the NFL and the NFLPA announced the firing of an unaffiliated NEUROTRAUMA consultant involved in clearing two of the previous Sunday. The League and the Players Association said a review into that process is ongoing, while also adding they agree that changes need to be made to the league’s concussion protocol. So Stefan is the former NFL player among us. What were your initial thoughts watching two on the turf Thursday and how do you think we got here?

Stefan Fatsis: Well, I was watching the game live on my phone to get the full Amazon Thursday Night football streaming experience. And as soon as he was flung to the ground like a fisherman tenderizing an octopus and his head snapped against the turf and he wasn’t moving. My first thoughts were that his brain was badly injured. You don’t have to be a neurologist to make that diagnosis. That was corroborated by the replay shots of to his arms, bending over his chest with his fingers splayed gruesomely in all directions.


Stefan Fatsis: The fencing response that you mentioned, Joel, there have been NFL players who have returned almost immediately to games after exhibiting the fencing response, which after a decade and a half of attention on brain injuries. Announcers and reporters still treat as some sort of mysterious medical phenomenon. But the more damning evidence of the dolphins and the sport’s willingness to find loopholes that allow players to play was what happened the previous Sunday against the Bills. Two was pushed to the ground after a pass. He slammed his head against the turf. He stayed there for a few seconds and then he grabbed his head. Then he did the head shake, clear out the cobwebs motion. Then he literally collapsed and was helped up. Then he was about to collapse again and was supported by his teammates. Five clear signs of head injury.


Stefan Fatsis: He went to the blue medical tent, allegedly cleared the league’s concussion protocols and returned for the second half. The point is that as much in the first incident as the second, the evidence the two had suffered some brain injury was obvious to anyone who was watching Meat Head football. Twitter replied to whoever pointed this out was all, Yo, check out Mr. Doctor over here.

Stefan Fatsis: Well, brain injuries are complicated. Their short term symptoms vary and the NFL minimized or covered up evidence of brain injury for literally decades. We should not trust them whether to a past some rudimentary and clearly as the league all but admitted over the weekend, insufficient cognitive test designed by league and league hired doctors isn’t evidence of good decision making. It’s evidence that the process is flawed.


Stefan Fatsis: Ultimately, though, this is about common sense erring on the side of caution. How hard would it have been, Josh, for the Dolphins to watch the replay and tell Tua you hit your head and collapsed on the field, Give me your helmet, you’re done for the day. As for losing the game, which is a fair concern for coaches, I mean, come on, the Dolphins backup isn’t some rookie free agent out of East Southern Idaho. It’s Teddy Bridgewater, 29 years old, seven year veteran, started 58 games, including 15 in 2020 and 14 in 2021, which were his two best statistical seasons, completed two thirds of his passes thrown for more than 13,000 yards in the NFL. The Dolphins season would not have ended if the coaching staff had said Let’s make sure to is right. We’re lucky to have Teddy.


Josh Levin, Josh Levine: If they had said the magic words, We’re lucky to have Teddy, none of this would have happened. So I agree with everything that you said. I agree that the league shouldn’t be trusted pretty much on anything, but particularly on this category of thing that the Dolphins as an organization should not be trusted basically on anything. Recall that the owner, Stephen Ross, is currently suspended and not able to have anything to do with the team because of the investigation stemming from Brian Flores’s racial discrimination suit, which the suspension is actually because of tampering with Tom Brady and and former Saints coach Sean Payton. But so he wasn’t around and had I guess, nothing to do with the decision of whether to play him or not play him.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: So one kind of wonders where the buck stops here. But I say all of that as preamble to the fact that, like, this isn’t what the NFL wanted to happen. Like, Stefan, we used to talk about concussions on this show all the time, pretty much constantly, but we haven’t. And apparently I have didn’t go back and look at the show pages. But this is it’s become less and less present.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Part of what we talk about, I feel like the NFL has done from their own self-interested PR standpoint, a fairly decent job in getting this away from being topic, which is exactly what they want with all of these protocols with the independent consultant. And so they’re certainly not incentivized in any way to like have a concussion controversy be a thing that the world is talking about instead of like Mahomes versus Brady. Like, they would much prefer we would be focusing on that right now. And so they fucked up.


Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Joel like and I think the fact that it was so obvious that this is not an edge case, that he clearly just with our eyes, you don’t have to have any sort of medical degree or a Ph.D. to know that that guy should not have been playing football. It’s going to focus attention back on concussions and brain trauma in a way that the NFL is surely unhappy about. And so I’m just kind of I think we’re all confused about why and how that happened.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: It’s like it’s not a surprise that the independent consultant, the one guy involved in this, is not an employee of the league office or the Dolphins is the one who becomes the scapegoat. But there’s you know, this is a situation that invites more reporting. And Mike McDaniel, the coach of the Dolphins, has been kind of the public face of this from the team side is definitely giving me nothing to see here. We did everything by the book, sort of sort of posture. So we’ll see.

Joel Anderson: Yeah, it’s tough. And I guess I’m sort of torn because like everybody I was really scared for, too, when he hit the turf on Thursday night, and I’d actually sort of forgotten until I watched the game. I was like, Oh, that’s right. He did have that head injury or what appeared to be a head injury a few days ago. And so when you put it all together in that context, it was even more horrifying. But I guess and, you know, maybe people are going to accuse me of being Pollyannish here or naive. I think I’m just a little surprised that everybody believes that the Dolphins would risk their credibility and the face of their franchise in such a public spot in this way.


Josh Levin, Josh Levine: And in like week four of what’s now a 17 game season. Yeah.

Joel Anderson: You know, and it would have been real easy for the Dolphins to have said, you know what, we don’t you know, this is a quick turnaround. We’re three and oh, you know, no NFL team wants to give up any week. Right. But. It would have been real easy for them to say, You know what? Maybe this is just too quick of a turn around. And as you said, stuff. And we’ve got to tell you, Bridgewater, I’m inclined to believe that Mike McDaniel and the Dolphins really did believe the tour was okay and that he could play. And he probably put up a hell of a fight himself and put on a hell of a presentation behind closed doors for the past four days, trying to show them and prove to them, No, I’m fine. I promise you I’m okay. The players do this all the time.

Joel Anderson: So, you know, I don’t want to I don’t want to extend any credulity to the Dolphins or Mike McDaniel or any of the other things. But I’m just kind of surprised that everybody believes that they would lie, like they would boldfaced lie in front of everybody and then put two of back out there in front of everybody. They get hurt like that. And it’s not because they were lying.

Stefan Fatsis: I think it just shows the blind spot in the way that NFL teams, football teams, coaches, front offices think. I mean, to me, it’s almost not about whether Tool was allowed to play on Thursday after clearing the protocols and being being tested every day, which is part of the NFL’s requirements after an apparent head injury on the field. It’s more that they let him play the second half, I mean, of the Bills game earlier in the week because it was a Sunday Thursday.


Joel Anderson: But if he passes the protocol, though, it is flawed. It’s a protocol.

Stefan Fatsis: The protocol is a crutch Joel The protocol is an excuse, like Josh said. And I said it’s eye test. I mean, the dude collapsed on the field, you know, collapse with a sore back. We know what you’re had. You don’t like you know, you don’t lie unconscious on the turf for 5 seconds with a sore back.

Joel Anderson: Right. But, Stefan, we’ve watched football, like you said, all these years. We used to talk about concussions all the time. So we all have sort of one way or another. None of us were complaining about the protocol or the way that the NFL did this until this Thursday. Right. Like, I got.

Stefan Fatsis: We got that. I mean, you know, Chris Nowinski, who runs the Concussion Legacy Foundation, former player at Harvard, former professional wrestler who’s been one of the biggest advocates for finding better ways to police and treat head injuries, tweeted earlier on Thursday that he shouldn’t be playing tonight. And I’m scared for him. I mean, it was a prediction that he didn’t want to come true, but it did. I mean, and Josh, when it comes to the, you know, the coaching staff and nobody wanting to or to be hurt, of course, I didn’t want him to be hurt. But it does show where they just fall short.

Stefan Fatsis: I mean, Mike McDaniel is 39, you know, Yale history major. He’s supposed to be part of this new smart young generation, progressive generation of coaches. And he was like spitting bullshit all week. Absolutely zero patience for Will ever put a player in position for them to be in harm’s way. That’s not what I’m all about. No outcome of a football game would influence me to be irresponsible as a head coach of a football team, he said.


Stefan Fatsis: And then he said separately, It’s not part of the deal you sign up for. His teammates and myself were very concerned, but he got checked out and it’s nothing more serious than a concussion. I mean, and that’s like too bad. Like who’s like running your PR, who’s like telling them that coach, like, coaching him and giving him talking points? That’s awful.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Nothing more serious than a concussion. Yeah, you shouldn’t say that. The other part of it seems like a response to what Chris announced. He said to his credit before the game on Thursday, which was everyone should be sued and fired. This is a guy who’s worried about getting sued and fired potentially. And so the the protocol in that case is definitely a crutch, If you can say, here’s what the procedure is. We followed it exactly and it led us to this outcome.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: And so, yeah, let’s fix the protocol. Let’s fire the independent consultant. And what Alex Kirshner wrote for Slate on Sunday is that this is a failure of people, not of like some flowchart, that there are people who should have looked and seen with their eyes what we could all see and either overrule the box checking or say like, you’re not checking the boxes correctly.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: But I think to side with Joel a little bit like the protocol and the independent consultant, I think we’ve all seen that it’s there have been improvements like that. There aren’t as many kind of egregious cases like this one in 2022 as there were, you know, five or ten years ago. And so a case like this sticks out more. And it is. Just extremely alarming that it could still happen today.


Josh Levin, Josh Levine: But you know what? The Amazon broadcast didn’t mention anything about the injury the previous Sunday against Buffalo. They did a good job in the post game, I think, because whoever was running the show there saw what people were saying on Twitter and was like, we should probably take this more seriously. I’m I’m serious. Like, I’m sure that’s what happened. But at halftime, like Ryan Fitzpatrick was saying, and I’m sure that is true, he was saying like, yeah, we talked to Tua yesterday and he seemed fine. It’s like, okay, I don’t know what what that gets you, but you know, Al Michaels, you know, he had talked about Deshaun Watson in a kind of similar way. And like, that’s another protocol in like a box ticking way. Like, All right. I guess we got to talk about the thing that people are talking about. He got all this guaranteed money for whatever reason. We’re not going to mention why. Oh, we got I guess this doesn’t look that good. But, you know, we got to move on and talk about, you know, Joe.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Joe Burrow to Ja’marr Chase on this next drive there. So there is even in this more kind of enlightened time on the field, off the field, there is just this entire apparatus in league media, in the television rights holders in, I think, team management and league office as well. There’s just like we got to move past this. You know, we followed the protocol. It’s on to Cincinnati, as Bill Belichick would say.

Stefan Fatsis: Right. And and part of it, Josh and Joel, is that this is so baked into what football is that it’s inevitable that the attention on brain injuries is going to wane. I mean, the league is spending close to $1,000,000,000 to settle litigation and compensate players from earlier eras because of brain injuries. It’s able to say, you know, we’re putting on those concussion guards in training camp on the top of helmets and rushing the passer. Penalties are more or called more frequently, and there’s a natural media fatigue to talking about the same thing over and over when it is just part of every single play on a football field and always will be. As long as players are playing this game by these rules, wearing this equipment.


Joel Anderson: I think the thing is, is that we still don’t know what we want from football. Like we know that the protocol is to make the players safer, but it’s also to make us feel better about the game in spite of what we know about the game that a lot of this is. It’s important to protect the players from the most egregious head injuries in the game. But we also know that the players are suffering smaller sub trauma throughout the game, like.

Stefan Fatsis: Every play.

Joel Anderson: Blocking every play. Right. And so that contact, that part of the violence of the game is damaging, if not more damaging than the big hits that we see the to attack. Right. So we’re trying to feel better about it. And what we saw on Thursday is like, oh, this is the game in all of its raw brutality and the protocol can only protect us. But for so long from that and we’re counting on the protocol, these unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant team doctors or whatever, to prevent us from seeing that sort of stuff. And we’re really upset about it now that we saw it. But I just think that we’re torn and watching that sort of stuff.

Joel Anderson: It just sort of brings to mind, you know, Christian Alinsky said, you know, after he was, you know, basically clairvoyant and was right about, you know, to getting hurt, he says, how are we so stupid in 2022? Right. Well, I mean, we still play football, man. And, you know, like, there’s just not really a way to get around it. And, you know, it’s important to note here, too, that we they still have not concluded the to us suffered a brain injury or a concussion against the bills that previous Sunday. They’re still trying to sort that out like obviously things went wrong in the in the process there but they still haven’t concluded that. And so what I’m still trying to figure out again is that on Thursday that hit alone the guy that slung to it to the grass £350 he’s a huge dude. The way he slung him down that hit alone could have incapacitated to a the way in which it did. And it wasn’t even required for him to have had a brain injury four days earlier.


Joel Anderson: Right. So, you know, I get why everybody was horrified because it was a horrifying sight. But I think that we’re asking football in the NFL and all these other people to do things to protect us from ourselves. And it’s just, man, I’m sorry, this is football. It’s really scary. It’s really horrible. And sometimes you’re going to see shit like that.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Yeah. I mean, the first play at LSU Auburn game on Saturday night was on kickoff coverage at cornerback for LSU. Seven banks slammed his neck into a dude and had to be carted off the field. And so where I was watching the game, the conversation was like, Why do we play this sport? Like if if there was some at the beginning of every game and it was just the way that it happened, it was like, you know, the moment of kickoff, it’s like, all right, we’re we’re settling down for like an evening of watching football. This is going to be a fun game.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: And then, like, immediately it’s like the game stops dead silence. Everybody is just waiting to see if this guy is going to be okay, which it seems like he is going to be at least. And, you know, he he was able to travel back with the team and all that. But if every game was stopped immediately after the first play for like a ten minute meditation on why it is that we play this sport as like everybody prays that somebody isn’t going to die, then I think we would have a much different viewing experience with football.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: But, you know, it takes these, you know, whether it’s, you know, unfortunately, like the the moments when somebody gets paralyzed or a high profile player like to this happens, it takes those moments to kind of shake us out of our stupor and get us to recognize all where you said it’s like it’s not the the big heads like this. It’s the subconcussive trauma.


Josh Levin, Josh Levine: And on every play that we don’t see and and think about and just my last note on the broadcast, they now have special special graphics and like they’ll have like Jay Feely on the game to talk about like which direction the wind is blowing for important kicks they’ll have like the officiating expert on to talk about Oh well you know that every freakin week we have somebody explaining to us like, well, the call on the field is really important. So they need to have conclusive video evidence to overturn it. We get that every week on every single network. We have some on ESPN.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Sometimes they’ll bring in on SportsCenter a segment of an injury expert for fantasy reasons to be like, Oh, well, if you have this guy on your fantasy roster, the fact that he, like, broke every bone in his body, he’ll be out for eight weeks. But on the broadcast themselves of the games, there’s no medical expert who’s ever on camera, who’s ever brought in to say like, all right, let’s talk about this the way that like doctors actually talk about it as opposed to like, oh, he’s moving his extremities or, you know, whatever.

Stefan Fatsis: Kind of to the crowd.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Whatever language they. They fall back on. And so what they want is to get the person off screen to get the injury off screen, and they’ll talk about it in hushed tones when they need to. But there’s no it’s not a part of the the game or the broadcast that they really want to linger on. And so we don’t have the kind of expertise that would make us actually stop and think about what’s what’s happening.


Stefan Fatsis: And I want to finish with one last thought. And this is really for you, Joel, as a former player, I mean, the TCU game, there was a targeting call. TCU player drove his head into the Oklahoma quarterback, had to be taken off the field. Same exact situation. He seemed completely distraught by what had happened, got kicked out of the game. But the way that the Bengals defensive lineman flung to the ground in the way that the Bills defensive lineman pushed him to the ground.

Stefan Fatsis: You know, football players Joel are taught what to finish the play, to dive into piles, to drive the ball carrier to the ground, to hit the quarterback as much as is possible under whatever the current rules are. And I do wonder whether the next sort of cosmetic change we’re going to see in the game is teaching players to not do that as much, to not make that last what can appear superfluous, aggressive injury, potentially inducing move, diving into piles, driving people to the ground even more, you know, instead of throwing two or 360 degrees to the ground, you know, just dropping them down, it’s hard instinctually. But I think we’re going to get to the point where coaching and rules are going to change to try to protect all players, not just quarterbacks. Joel, what do you think?

Joel Anderson: Yeah, we’ll see. I mean, with you have these targeting penalties every week and it’s always, you know, oh, man, couldn’t pull up really tough. You know, it’s a put his head and on the fly So I don’t know, man. When the bodies are alive out there, it’s really hard to ease this hard and that’s what the flags are for. So maybe we’ll see that, but I tend to doubt it. I just think we’re just going to have to come to grips with the fact that this is a really bad game and people get hurt at it. And either we’re going to have to be okay with it or we’re not. In the next segment, Aaron Judge in the Chase for 62.


Speaker 5: And.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: On Sunday in the Bronx, Aaron Judge went for three with a walk in the Yankees three one loss. The Orioles finishing off a three game series in which the supposed superstar got one measly hit and stayed stuck on not measly 61 home runs. Judge has four more games against the Texas Rangers in the next three days to try to pop at least one more and break Roger Maris Yankees and American League record. The only people ahead of him and Maris on the all time single season list are a trio of national leaguers who all played in the sports steroid era. Sammy Sosa has seasons of 63, 64 and 66 homers. Mark McGwire 65 and 70. And Barry Bonds, who cranked 73 homeruns back in 2001. Joel.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: I have a pretty good sense of how you feel about all of this, given that you tweeted a complaint on Saturday that ABC was cutting in to interrupt college football, quote, to show Mike Judge not break a record.

Joel Anderson: But whatever the.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Feeling, if you’ll indulge us for a moment. What do you make of the conversation about the real home run record and what judge is aiming for here?

Joel Anderson: Well, I don’t want to insult Aaron Judge. Look, I’m becoming my father, okay? I just get people’s names wrong or mixed up. I was thinking of Mike Stanton and Aaron Judge and that kind of mix the names I’m so sorry about.

Stefan Fatsis: And you must be a huge Beavis and Butthead fan.

Joel Anderson: Well, actually, I do have the DVD series. I used to. I don’t have DVDs anymore, but I did have Beavis and Butthead on DVD. But yeah, look. So I don’t want to insult Aaron Judge. I mean, he’s in the midst of a great run. He’s well on his way to finishing in sixth place all time for homeruns in a season. And even he acknowledges that 73 is the real home run record. But I can’t tell if the people driving this are moralist about drug use or if they’re just Yankees fans. And I just truly hope there’s not much crossover among those groups, because so much of what the Yankees fans enjoyed over the past 25 years, it likely didn’t come all clean.


Joel Anderson: Okay. So I think the thing is, is that we’re being really stupid about all of this, right? That well, you know, this is the real record. Aaron Judge is playing in the non steroid era of sports. And as if we didn’t just go through this with Fernando Tatis just earlier this year, one of three major leaguers to get hit with a penalty for using PEDs already, what makes people think and I’m not accusing Aaron Judge of anything, that this is not a steroid era.

Joel Anderson: Right. I would love to hear. It would have been great to have had our friend David Epstein on here, because I remember something he said from an interview from 2018. And it talked to it was addressing the idea that minor leaguers test positive for PEDs a lot more often than major leaguers. And he said in this interview, he said they’re more likely when minor leaguers test positive and get suspended, they’re more likely to get promoted. So there’s some more deterrent value, but you can still dope. And the risk reward calculation is still in favor of taking that risk for most people.

Joel Anderson: So here we are a few years later, one of the game’s brightest stars already been hit for testing positive for PEDs. And we’re going to sit up here and be naive enough to believe that like. Things that have previously been done under the taint of PED use that that no longer is a factor in baseball. Again, not accusing Aaron Judge of anything, but we’re looking at all over women’s sports. Tom Brady playing to the age of 45, sprinters routinely running lower than 9.8 seconds in a 100 meter dash. Basketball players playing longer than ever before in their career, have extended their primes in ways that were unthinkable even a generation ago. And now all of a sudden, we’re just supposed to be like, Well, hey, man, this guy’s hit 61 home runs. He must have done it the right way. I mean, just come on, get the fuck out of here.


Stefan Fatsis: Yankee fan here checking in? Yeah, I could give a shit about, you know, the sort of Yankee centric ness of this, which plays into this. You know, how many times have we seen in the nightly coverage over the last two weeks on the MLB network or ESPN or TBS or whoever is carrying or is allowed to carry a Yankee game on on cable television? How often have we seen, you know, the pan shots out to the retired numbers in center field? Then the the the monuments and the talk of Maris and the cuts to Roger Maris, poor son who’s had to go to every fucking game waiting for Aaron Judge to tie and then break.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: That guy is not upset about being on camera.

Stefan Fatsis: No, clearly not. But you know, this is obviously silly and manufactured. There is no you know, I mean, like American League. National League. Okay, whatever. Like interleague play. These distinctions are kind of meaningless at this point. And as soon as there is a universal the age these leagues like are completely irrelevant in the designations, at least in a current sense, if not historically. Barry Bonds holds the record for the most home runs in the season. Full stop. Is it interesting that this six foot seven boring by the books? Clearly an amazing baseball player who whose career has sort of blossomed in his late twenties. He’s 30 now, is breaking this long standing cherished mark. Yeah, it’s kind of cool And it’s the Yankees and that’s how the media works. So I’m not surprised that the attention.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: So. And putting together some research on this. We assembled some point counterpoints here. My favorite. So Rolling Stone had this kind of trollish headline Aaron Judge ties the real home run record that was making people angry and exactly the way that they wanted it to. But my favorite sincere kind of rendition of the real home run record of 61 was from Fred Bowen and the Washington Post’s Kim Post Kids Post section. And here’s an excerpt from that.


Josh Levin, Josh Levine: But what about the record set with the help of PEDs? Sorry, but it’s hard for me to accept that a record set by a cheater is a real record. I think the real single season home run record is Maris 61 in 1961. I am rooting for Judge to beat it, says Fred Bowen and Kids first. And that’s kind of the level of that, the discourse that we have here. And cheating is bad. We’ll get some more cheating in our next segment, but cheating is bad. Judge is not cheating. And so that’s the real record, which it is a very kind of kids post thing to say that records that I don’t like aren’t real like that.

Stefan Fatsis: Steroids are bad. Josh.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Exactly. But that’s the distinction, Joel, that I think that isn’t being made in these and these conversations. It’s not just that people are arguing, but I would say not a huge number of people. It’s not overstated, but that the people that are arguing it are saying like not just that Judge we should consider Judge to hit the most homeruns in major league history, but that kind of ugly history, things that have happened in America that we don’t like, we could just pretend didn’t happen. Like, for instance, that Babe Ruth didn’t play against black players, right? Or that the Negro Leagues.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Only recently we’ve begun to recognize the statistics. And the Negro Leagues are are real and should be considered alongside ones and you know, the American League and a National League. So if we’re going to be doing this whole like selective history gambit and saying, you know, some things are true that have happened and some things aren’t true, and that’s a whole can of worms, I’m not sure the kid’s post wants to be wants to be opening.


Joel Anderson: Well, yeah, that’s that’s the that is that is the thing, right, that you know nobody critical.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Baseball theory underway.

Joel Anderson: Right. The debate that Babe Ruth and Roger Maris mostly played against teams that did not have very many black players or while the Negro Leagues are going in. And so, you know, you know, people of course, they don’t they don’t very often critique those records. Right. And the only time, again, when we talk about this is when we’re like, well, you know, the counterpunch is the hey, by the way, Babe Ruth didn’t play against black players, you know, So this is the only time we talk about this. But I guess the thing is I’m a I’m cynical because I’m like, who is calling for this? Like, who’s asking for these cut? Is this is this, you know, a really cynical attempt from broadcasters to gin up interest in baseball down the stretch? Like, is anybody really calling for this?

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: That it’s not I should have said it kind of combines two of our of our last like rounds here of this conversation. It’s it’s not just kids first. It’s the Roger Maris kid who is like having press conferences saying the judge is going after the real record, which is like the whole, like Yankee supremacy thing. And it’s also like Roger Maris Jr has this like 61 outfitters company with like the 61 logo, which apparently has to do with hunting for some reason. So you can combine your love of nonsteroidal homerun records with your love of antlers.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: I don’t know. It doesn’t really make much sense. But if you’re in a particular part of the culture war Venn diagram in America, maybe that is a parallel that you want to be rocking, but like to the extent that this job, to the extent that this argument is being made, it’s it’s it is coming from like the Maris family. And there’s this idea that like, there’s a there’s a lineage between the true record holder, Roger Maris and the potential true record holder.


Joel Anderson: Aaron Judge Yeah, I mean, they’re free to feel that way. I guess the issue is that everybody else is sort of glommed onto this and we have that thing.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Like it’s a legitimate.

Joel Anderson: Art and pretending like this is a real thing. And look, I tend to believe that ABC, the Disney network of the Disney network of channels or whatever, they’re the ones that have an incentive to drive this because they’ve got, you know, content to share. They’ve got, you know, and they could gin up some interest in some baseball games. I mean, I cannot imagine that the Yankees, Rangers or even especially Yankees Orioles series would be of national interest if not for this. And so it’s the Orioles.

Stefan Fatsis: It’s what they would have still had a mathematical chance to make the playoffs.

Joel Anderson: Yeah, we should really talk about the audience because they haven’t been talked about how you know, how they’ve been running the organization the past four years.

Stefan Fatsis: But I just think that like the attention is normal. Going back to the season, East Coast media bias and Yankees legacy and true Yankee nonsense. Giancarlo Stanton of the Yankees hit 59 home runs, not when he was playing with the Yankees, though. And if he had been playing for the Yankees, I think we would have seen similar attention be paid. I mean, Aaron Judge also is a perfect sort of creation. I mean, he wears a weird number for a Yankee. He’s six foot seven, as I said. Before. He’s boring. He’s bland in a sort of Derek Jeter way. He doesn’t say anything typically interesting to the media. He seems to be a genuine good guy, doesn’t drink, you know, he’s a queen cub. He has done things the right way, which is what Roger Maris Junior actually said. So he is a good sort of character for this narrative.


Stefan Fatsis: And once you get to the narrative, then you are naturally going to get to Barry Bonds. And Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were frauds. I mean, as for the Yankees, I mean, Alex Rodriguez and Roger Clemens played for the Yankees, that if you don’t think that there were players in the six 5060s and seventies that were taking amphetamines, then, you know nothing about the history of baseball and breaking records and getting inducted into the Hall of Fame. This is all sort of nonsense. And we’d all be much better served if we just said, Oh, it’s kind of cool that he’s breaking Roger Maris record while wearing the same uniform and his Roger Maris his number doubled on the back. Good for him, you know, And if he gets to 73, we can celebrate something different.

Joel Anderson: But what continues to make us so credulous about this stuff? Like why we you know what I mean? How do we always end up back here again?

Stefan Fatsis: That was incredulous, Don’t we all? Don’t we want to believe or no one wants to believe that cares about this shit? Why do we Jeff Pearlman writing in CNN or someone writing for or Joel Sherman writing for the New York Post or somebody writing, you know, some other blog. I mean, they want to believe and make this sort of this disingenuous argument that, oh, this guy must be clean.

Joel Anderson: Everybody knows I’m a huge Trek fan. I if and I’m not accusing anybody of anything. If you told me who same boat had tested positive for using, you know, horse de worm or whatever, I don’t know. You know, that’s not a performance enhancer, but you get what I’m saying. It would not matter at all because I saw Usain Bolt run. I saw that.


Stefan Fatsis: That would not shock you at all either.

Joel Anderson: It wouldn’t shock me. So I’m just like, what? I mean. But I don’t need I don’t need the pretense of clean to enjoy sports like I’m enjoying performance, not like what I think these athletes are doing on the side. Look, man, we just talked about Tua Tagovailoa playing like we know that athletes will do anything to play and to exceed. And so I I’m not even trying to consider the world of possibilities, the things that they’re doing to put themselves in front of us in any given, in any given competition. So again, like what is the focus? Like, why are we so focused on, oh man, y’all know, that guy probably used some nandrolone or whatever, you know, like it just doesn’t it doesn’t make any sense. That’s not the way to enjoy sports. I just don’t. I don’t that is not a requirement for me to enjoy sports. And I don’t understand why other people are so caught up in it that just enjoy the performance, enjoy the records. You don’t need to worry about that.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: I will say this. I think there is maybe a stronger counter argument than we have aired so far, so I will air it now. Number one is, Stefan, you and I grew up following this sport super closely, and 61 is just like a fabled number. And it’s the number because and you can put the steroid stuff to the side. It’s like it’s it’s like contract. Or when a record stands for decades upon decades, that number gets imprinted in your mind and becomes the sort of like mythical barrier that needs to be crossed. And then when it got broken six times within a three year stretch in the late nineties and early 2000, those numbers don’t stick as much. It’s like, what even is the record anymore? It’s just like 63 is 65, 68, 70, 73, and it’s just like in.


Joel Anderson: 73.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: And it is 73. But it just it just became it just became so easy to breach it during that period that.

Joel Anderson: If it was easy, then somebody that wasn’t Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire would have done it. That’s the that’s the that’s the thing.

Stefan Fatsis: Well, I think just saying that person did it. The people burying it six times means that it is easier than it was for the previous 60 years.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: So there are eras in baseball Joel where it’s like the dead ball era or it’s like a better era for hitters or a better era for pitchers. It’s like what we’re saying now. Like if you want to have your head in the sand and say that steroids had nothing to do with it, you can just say that that period was like a good era for hitters. Okay? And so this season is like one of the best seasons for pitchers that there’s ever been. And so in some ways it’s like more impressive. To see what judge is doing this season.

Joel Anderson: Pictures of Queen and of course, the guy that’s having success against these pictures probably claim that’s where we’re all supposed to believe here.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Well, another argument that you’re not acknowledging is, yeah, the reason that we know Fernando Tatis was taking part is because he.

Stefan Fatsis: Got suspended for taking key tests positive for for a particular people, that is Barry.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Bonds. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa had gotten suspended because people were because MLB was testing back then. Then they wouldn’t have the record.


Joel Anderson: I mean, no, I don’t. The thing is, is that it’s harder. It’s the presumption that the testing the testing is like going to catch everything. I mean, if we had our friend where.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: There wasn’t testing back then.

Joel Anderson: Right. But I’m just again, we know that in sports that the cheaters are well ahead of the test. Like, if David Epstein was here. David, were you were you were were you respond to this this segment one way or another. I hope you listen. But like we know that the cheaters are way ahead of the testing. So like the fact that you test positive is not indicative of the fact that like you’re an anomaly and that you got caught. It’s just that you were sloppy, like you got sloppy in your process and that’s how you ended up testing positive.

Joel Anderson: That’s one thing with Tatis that like he got caught, but like, it doesn’t mean that he’s the only one. Nobody should sit up here and believe that that just because he got caught, though, the testing would have caught everybody else in previous eras. No. Like more than likely, Tatis learned to learned this from other people. And there’s other people in his team, in his group of people that are testing in do and doing all this other stuff. And they just haven’t gotten caught. But like, I don’t I mean, I guess I haven’t grappled with the fact that yeah, well maybe they been testing back then they would have caught Mark McGwire or whatever, but I just don’t I don’t know, man.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: That is it would it would be much easier to have this conversation if the people on the like, anti bonds side weren’t like moralistic pigs because like Joel, the reality is that once they instituted testing the numbers, the homeruns that people were hitting went way down. And it’s not like once they instituted the like across the board testing, everyone was still hitting the same number of homeruns. And now, like judge for the first time and I guess Stanton had 59, too. There is something impressive about the fact that in an era when the baseline like the next puts the next highest homerun total this year, Stefan like 42.


Stefan Fatsis: Or 42.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: This isn’t like a season where every where like three different guys are hitting over 60. He’s like a huge outlier, which is a very impressive.

Stefan Fatsis: Impressive. I mean, we are also, let’s point out, celebrating Albert Pujols, getting to 700 home runs for his career, which is a remarkable achievement. Albert Pujols started playing in 2001, the same year that Barry Bonds hit 73. Albert Pujols first. Six years in the big leagues, home runs, 37, 34, 43, 46, 41, 49. Oh, that’s a lot of home runs. I mean, should we be suspicious of Pujols? Should we care what happened in 2001 and two and three before fuller testing was implemented? You know, is Albert Pujols a demigod baseball player? Yeah, he’s had 700 home runs. Is it possible he, quote unquote, cheated? Yeah.

Joel Anderson: I mean, how dare we? I mean, God, I mean, they came. It came in the testing area. So, I mean, this late career resurgence is just a miracle. You know what I mean? Like this, we would never want to suggest that anything untoward had happened here. I mean, they test now, right? So, I mean, clearly, I mean, we would never we would never assume that anything untoward was going on in the background here. Right.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: If everybody is taking the exact same like horse steroids that they were taking in the early 2000, why don’t people hit as many homeruns anymore?

Joel Anderson: Well, because everybody’s not Barry Bonds. I mean.

Stefan Fatsis: Everybody knows everybody is.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Not Sammy Sosa.

Stefan Fatsis: The pitcher is also took steroids in the in the early 2000.


Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Everybody is now.

Joel Anderson: We know that Roger Clemens was taking that stuff, too. I mean, I just you think.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Mark McGwire is like some historically amazing player in the history of America.

Joel Anderson: So we’re talking about records and outliers. And so, yeah, so at the margins or the median player is going to reflect the median standard is of that time. But we’re talking about outliers here. Everybody wasn’t hitting 73 home runs back then. It was Barry Bonds and it was Mark McGwire who was a great homerun hitter going back to the late eighties. Like I didn’t find.

Stefan Fatsis: 49 homeruns as a rookie.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Mark Luis Gonzalez was hitting 50 home runs. Why isn’t anybody even hitting 50 homeruns now?

Stefan Fatsis: Brady Anderson, 50.

Joel Anderson: I can’t I can’t wait until Aaron Judge goes into the Hall of Fame because, I mean, is he is is he is he clearly bound for the Hall of Fame? Is that my own legacy? Is he that guy or is he or is he.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Least on record as saying he’s going to, like, fall off a cliff? Right. That’s my question.

Stefan Fatsis: And the $400 million contract he gets in this off season is going to be a disaster.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Up next. Cheating in chess and poker, allegedly.

Stefan Fatsis: The 2022 U.S. Chess Championship begins on Wednesday in Saint Louis. The top seeded men’s player is three time overall and two time defending champ Wesley. So but the name in the news is the eighth seed, 19 year old Hans Niemann at a tournament a month ago. Niemann defeated the world champion Magnus Carlsen. Carlsen promptly withdrew from the event, raising all sorts of speculation. And when they were paired again in another tournament a couple of weeks later, Carlsen resigned after making just one move.


Stefan Fatsis: How come Carlsen’s actions implied that Neiman was a cheater? Neiman would admit that he had in fact cheated in online events when he was 12 and 16 years old, but said he’d never cheated in an in-person game, which is pretty hard but not impossible to do. In a statement, Carlsen called cheating an existential threat to the game and claimed without offering any evidence that Neiman had cheated more frequently and more recently than he’d admitted. Chess officials are investigating both Neiman’s history and Carlsen’s allegations. There was also a cheating allegation at a live streamed poker tournament last week. And joining us now is someone who can discuss both games. Jennifer Shahade is a two time U.S. women’s chess champion and a professional poker player. She’s also the author of the book Chess Queens. Hey, Jen, Welcome back to the show.

Speaker 6: Hello. Thank you so much.

Stefan Fatsis: Well, let’s start with Carlsen. He’s a huge and transcendent figure in chess. He’s got enormous media clout. Is he using his power and influence here to raise an important issue or is he cruelly and unfairly trashing a young player on the rise or both?

Speaker 6: Well, it’s definitely a very risky move. You know, we talked about you talked about poker in the intro. Magnus Carlsen himself is a poker player. And I will say there was one immediate positive from his actions. In poker, whenever you have a livestream, of course, there’s a delay. So people watching the poker players play don’t have immediate access to the cards. Otherwise they could text their friend, Hey, your friend has aces here. Hold your opponent as ace is your fault. So of course there’s always been delays in poker livestreams.


Speaker 6: But until Magnus allegations or even before his allegations, when he dropped out of the Singapore Cup, you know, shocking the chess world, there was no standard of that in chess. So basically, you were watching a chess tournament and you were seeing the exact moves as they were being played, which on one hand is very fine, but of course, could really facilitate bad actors. Right now, in a tournament like the Saintfield Cup, there are already a lot of anti-cheat measures in place, the U.S. Chess Championships. But there are other larger tournaments where it’s actually pretty difficult to, you know, check every single person for all types of devices. So now it’s actually seems kind of obvious that we have this delay.

Joel Anderson: Stefan asked you about Carlsen. I would like to ask you about Hans Niemann the 19, because obviously, like, this is just this is sort of new to me. The idea that, you know, these like these teenaged prodigies that are so great in the game. So who is he in? Like, how much have these allegations affected him in his career?

Speaker 6: You know, I think a lot of people are really concerned because he is such a young man and he’s getting all this insane amount of attention and so much of it is negative. Now, whether or not he cheated and the extent of it, he did admit to cheating twice online. Everyone in the chess world is in strong agreement that he is extremely strong player and extremely talented. And that, of course, is why it’s so confusing. Is he just one of the most talented players in American history since Bobby Fischer and he Karo Nakamura? Or is he really, really good? And also using some assistance, There’s there’s no question that he’s really good at chess.


Speaker 6: In fact, my brother used to work with him in different chess camps and just was like astonished by how quickly Hans was improving. That’s something also that Jacob Agard, another famous trainer, has commented on, that his skyrocketing success is extremely unusual, but can also just be borne out by how much talent he has.

Speaker 6: That said, you know, he’s obviously a pretty tough kid. And in addition to getting a lot of negative attention, I think he’s getting some positive attention to. And the big question is going to be whether he can continue his improvement and, you know, prove that he probably wasn’t cheating or if he’s going to, you know, potentially crumble. And if, you know, of course, if further allegations come out and further evidence comes out, that will give us more information.

Speaker 6: But that’s something that I think the mainstream is a little confused by. They I think a lot of people think that, Hans. Cheated from the mainstream because he cheated twice online. What they don’t understand is cheating online in chess is extremely different from cheating. Over-the-board Online chess is played on so many different levels and usually money is not involved at all. It’s extremely easy to cheat. It doesn’t mean that it’s okay. And I think that’s really what this is kind of bringing to the fore. What types of punishments should there be for this kind of like easier type of cheating?

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: So the way that this first, I think, got a lot of people’s attention was Elon Musk sharing this allegation that maybe he was using, you know, bids to get information, which is just obviously salacious, seems ridiculous.


Josh Levin, Josh Levine: But I guess a couple of things. Number one, it gets into this kind of like fantastical realm, right? And Magnus. It feels like it’s feeding into it by saying, you know, I have reasons to think this. There’s things I know that I can’t say, which I think is kind of irresponsible. Like, if you’re if you know something, then say something or don’t say anything at all. If you feel like you have some information but need time to develop it, don’t just like throw this out and and attack this person with no evidence, but also with the anal beads thing. It suggests kind of like you said, and that it’s really difficult to cheat over the board. I mean, there have been people that have smuggled things in their shoes, Right? There’s you know, a common thing is people sneaking a phone into the bathroom and taking bathroom breaks.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: But it’s not like, you know, you can I’m trying to even think about other ways to do it. But the idea is you need to somehow get information from a computer into your brain. Right? Like what? What a chess engine would tell you to do. And if you’re getting wanted to see what devices you have, if people are looking at you every second, it’s it’s hard to think of ways to do that undetected.

Speaker 6: Absolutely. It does seem like it would be very difficult. Now, the anal beads idea kind of started as a joke and it went viral because obviously everybody needed a little comic relief. You know, it’s no fun when everything about your beloved game is all about chess. So when the anal joke started spreading, it just went like wildfire.


Speaker 6: Now, is it possible for a morse code accomplice to be relaying you moves via anal beads? Yes. Would anybody choose that method over, you know, the shoe or the ear? I can’t imagine unless, you know, they have that bat fetish, I suppose. But yes, it’s apparently it’s it’s difficult, but maybe not as difficult as you think. For instance, I think there are some like ear inserts that maybe metal detectors don’t pick up. And yeah, that that would probably be the number one way.

Speaker 6: The hard part is also, though, that most of these methods would require an accomplice. So that’s why that that delay that’s been implemented in more chess tournaments and I think will continue to be in play in more chess tournaments is so key because without a delay, an accomplice from literally anyone in the world could be like feeding you those moves from the other side.

Stefan Fatsis: You know, what really troubles me about this is with Carlson’s behavior. I’m with Josh on this. I just I just don’t understand his motivation here and the lack of willingness to to sort of cut Hans Niemann a break until we know if there’s any truth. Because if we know anything, Jan, about these mind sports that are played online, predominantly, it’s that cheating happens all the time because you can cheat. But the kind of egregious sort of higher stakes cheating in person is obviously very difficult to prove.

Stefan Fatsis: And the one point with Niemann is that he’s admitting to stuff that he did when he was 12 and 16, when kids are their brains aren’t fully developed. There is a tendency to overvalue women. And the they’re they sort of are tempted to cheat. The biggest in my game in Scrabble, the biggest on board live cheating is mostly involve kids and on online. Same thing in online tournaments. I’ve run a couple with kids. We had some, you know, algorithms detected cheating.


Josh Levin, Josh Levine: But isn’t the counterargument that Niemann is still a kid and 16 years old is three years ago?

Stefan Fatsis: Yeah, I mean, that is one of the counterarguments. I mean, I think the counter counter argument would be that he, as Jen said, is not a fraud when it comes to playing. He is a legitimate I don’t know what level he is that now Grandmaster level, right, Jen? That you don’t that just doesn’t happen by cheating. You cannot cheat your way to be a grandmaster. I don’t think in any of these mind sports, nor is the incentive or the desire there for most people. If you’re really good at this, you want to be really good at this. You don’t want to get caught. And I think when you reach 19, I mean, everybody is different and maybe he’s a cheater over the board, but you would think that you’re that good. You don’t really need to be using anal beads or ear inserts.

Speaker 6: Yeah, I think you make a really good point. I think the biggest problem with what Magnus did, from my point of view, is the way that it affected the tournament. But I can also sympathize with what he did, even though I don’t agree with it. Because imagine his shoes. He one thing that that lit somewhat recently was that he didn’t want to play in the Seinfield Cup when he found out that Hans Niemann was a last minute replacement. So handled the last minute replacement. And he was thinking of withdrawing when he found that out.

Speaker 6: Then, you know, also Hans has a lot of trash talk for him, so he really doesn’t really want to be in this tournament anymore. He’s playing against somebody who he knows cheated online and it makes it difficult to play against him. He plays worse than he normally does. He loses the game. So you can kind of see like his brain like is not completely informed by the fact. It’s also emotional, like he might be the best chess player in the world, but there’s still emotions at play. And I can sympathize with those emotions. But the problem is dropping out of these tournaments, withdrawing from a game, it actually affects the overall standings of the tournament. It affects players other than hands.


Stefan Fatsis: So yeah.

Joel Anderson: Any event in general, I’m also just kind of curious, like somebody’s accused of cheating at this level in chess. Like, do they ever really get the chance to clear their name? Like, it just seems like the allegation at this point is has gone so much further that, like, it’s going to be really hard for Hans to disprove the idea that he was cheating, because it just seems like the allegation in and of itself is so salacious. And so it’s coming from a guy with the credibility of being a champion that like it doesn’t seem that Hans will be able to sort of shake this allegation or am I making too much of it?

Speaker 6: You might be right. I tend to be overly optimistic about people and think that if Hans Niemann continues to have really strong results and there’s no more evidence that emerges, there is some kind of graceful solution where Magnus can say, I was right to be suspicious because you cheated online. But I’m dropping my suspicions and like, you know, the chess world could all be like, happy and move towards a better future. But yeah, I other people think, no, it’s impossible because there are some people who read about in the mainstream news that will never check in again. So, yeah, it’s a good point. Hans, though, also has a lot of fans that never would have known who he was if it wasn’t for that. So it kind of brings into a lot of bigger questions of media and whether all publicity is good publicity for chess and for the players involved.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: I mean, Stefan, what you said about if you’re a grandmaster, you’re not going to want to cheat. That seems super naive to me because just like Barry Bonds was the greatest player in the world and took the the cream in the clear because, you know, he probably wanted to be even greater and the margins. It’s like if you’re a grandmaster and Jan, you can check me, you can check me on that. You’re going to be better at chess than like almost every human that’s ever existed.


Josh Levin, Josh Levine: But also, you might be way worse than the best grandmaster. Like that, the margins can be really small and really large depending on how you look at it. And so maybe what you need is just like one little hint during the game. You know, you don’t need a lot of information, but don’t these games tend to come down to like if you had not made a blunder in one move, like it can elevate you from being really great to being the best?

Speaker 6: Yeah, it’s really scary because of course, the the most dangerous cheating is by somebody who’s already very, very smart and very, very good because then they would literally only need like one or two signals per game to have a devastating edge over their opposition. If you have somebody who’s not good at chess cheating, they’d literally need help every move and eventually they’ll get caught. There’s even been cases where the organizer gives them like a basic meat and wine, like somebody who’s who’s winning every game. And then they’re asked to solve like a background check made and they can’t get it. And like, that is that is it’s.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Like that’s like a cop show. Like prove you’re not a robot.

Speaker 6: For example, or you are prove that you are a robot. And in this case, yeah.

Stefan Fatsis: I mean, I think that. Josh, to respond to your point. Yeah, that’s right. And I don’t know if I’m being naive or I’m being optimistic or I’m using my own experience in Scrabble where the very, very top players are dedicated to the game itself. There’s never been an example in Scrabble of at the very top of the sport, somebody being caught cheating in person.


Josh Levin, Josh Levine: But that has happened in chess.

Stefan Fatsis: But it has happened in chess. And, you know, the stress levels are much higher in chess. The pressure is much higher in chess. And yeah, you’re right. 19 isn’t that. Much different than.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: The financial rewards or higher interests.

Stefan Fatsis: Yes, that is true as well.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: And in poker.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Jan, before we run out of time here, there was this viral moment this past week, which is different than what we’re dealing with. So with with Magnus and Hans, it’s just all kind of allegation and insinuation. And there’s nothing for us really to look at on on video. Right. But in this poker hand and maybe you can describe to folks who haven’t seen it. There’s this kind of forensic analysis happening where we all become amateur sleuths and try to figure out if there’s cheating afoot here.

Speaker 6: Yeah, that was a very interesting hand where an extremely respected high stakes pro Garrett Edelsten made a really big bluff, as he’s wont to do, against a newer player, Robbie Jay Lou. And she she caught off with a Jack high. Jack four was a specific man and I don’t know how much your listeners know poker, but the board was ten, ten, nine, three with two different fluster balls, so he could have had a lot of draws. So it kind of made sense for her to call with a hand that’s not as strong as usual, especially against this aggressive player, but with her exact holding. And this is the problem with the exact holding that she had.

Speaker 6: And she did call with this Jack high hand and ended up winning against his eight seven of clubs, which gave him a flush draw and a straight draw. He’s actually losing to a lot of his blocks, Right. So even when he is bluffing and with a hand that he thinks is bad, it’s actually better than Jack. I So that’s why the call was so astonishing and people were shocked by it. And the first instinct of a lot of viewers was there might be foul play here. And unfortunately, it created a real firestorm in the poker world, which is extremely similar to the chess world.


Stefan Fatsis: So I was going to say the foul play was that she must have known what he had. Well, now.

Speaker 6: I think I think a lot of people thought that when they first saw the hand, because, you know, there’s been a lot of cheating scandals in poker. And the hand was so outlandish that like, that might be your first instinct. Honestly, almost anyone’s first thing you think might be that. But as people have kind of calmed down and look all looked at all the evidence and well, I mean, not that they’re not evidence per se, but like playing history and plausible explanations.

Speaker 6: For instance, one thing that people noticed is that they had previous she had Jack three. And, you know, these poker sessions are very long. And eventually she said she got the two mixed up, so she thought she had Jack three this hand, not the other hand. And there was a three on the board of the hand that she made the call. So there are actually, like plausible explanations that seem to make more sense than cheating. It’s kind of like Occam’s Razor. Cheating is pretty complicated. You know, you need first of all, she seems to be very wealthy, so why would you even bother? Secondly, it requires an accomplice and to hack into a system of like a very respected new Lifestream that would have no incentive in doing that. So just with Occam’s Razor, these other explanations seem to make more sense, but it has created a firestorm.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Yeah, and there is a similarity here in the Guard. Adelstein, respected player, publicly accused her of cheating and I don’t think has walked that back. And he said that after the hand was over they like walked in to some back area and she offered to give him his money back. And so it’s a question of just like who has authority in these games, what are the proper venues and modes to make an allegation like this? And then who is inclined to be believed? And in this case, you have the further dynamic of a being like an experienced man accusing a less experienced woman, which leads to all sorts of kind of charges and countercharges about, you know, what’s afoot here.


Speaker 6: Yeah, created a lot of sexism and misogyny. Like after the fact. They just people saying very disparaging things about the player, kind of digging into her background. And it also went viral in feminist Twitter. So it kind of on both sides, like there is a lot of misogynist attacking her, but then there’s a lot of feminists like celebrating her, but often like celebrating the jack for call as like a brilliant play that was all about like reading people over math. So it’s like they’re kind of getting you’re getting it wrong. And that makes Garrett look even more ridiculous.

Speaker 6: But the spirit of what they’re thinking that there is misogyny in poker is correct. So it’s a really kind of debacle. And I’d say in poker it’s even worse than in chess because chess is a very respected sport. So when they hear about cheating, they’re like, Oh my God. And even know cheating was possible in chess. But when they hear about in poker, unfortunately, they’re like, Yeah, well, what do you expect? Of course there’s a cheating scandal. Of course people think a woman cheated, but they’re wrong. So I love poker and I love the math behind it. And I kind of like to see that flip around a little bit here. But I think the funny part is if we can take some humor in this beyond just the anal beads, is that in chess, Hans Niemann is attacked because he plays too well. And in poker, Robby de Lune is attacked because he played too poorly in his hand. Right.

Stefan Fatsis: And both.

Joel Anderson: Won.

Speaker 6: Yes, exactly.

Stefan Fatsis: Jennifer Shahade is a three time U.S. women’s chess champion. She plays poker professionally. She writes books. Her last one is called Chess Queens. Jen, thank you so much for coming on the show.


Speaker 6: Thank you for having me. It was a blast.

Stefan Fatsis: And now it is time for After Balls, sponsored by Bennett’s fringes, endorsed by Kenny Sellers, who says it was okay. Chess, poker, baseball. There was also a cheating scandal last week in the world of competitive fishing. The story was all over. Social and regular media broken by the Toledo Blade picked up by The New York Times, Washington Post and many others. The incident happened in Cleveland at an event called the Lake Erie Walleye Trail. The tournament director, a guy named Jason Fisher, was weighing one team’s Catch five walleye. He said looked to be about £20 total. I’d have to agree. But when the fish clocked in at around £34, Fisher got suspicious. He told The Post that he ran his hand over the fish and felt something hard. Then he started slicing them open in front of all the competitors and all hell broke loose. Let’s listen.

Speaker 5: We’ve got weights in there. We? I hear you walking down the road. Probably talking to me right now. Everybody listen to me right now.

Joel Anderson: Call the fucking cops.

Speaker 5: I don’t want anybody to touch these guys. I want to tell you how you fucking boys might turn out to be a pussy. Yeah.

Stefan Fatsis: Wow. Jason, we.

Speaker 5: Got you fucked over a lot of people, man. They’ve been doing this for years. Motherfucker. Son of a fucking down. You got a fucking bone. You got thousands of fucking dolls.

Stefan Fatsis: We got waves and fish.

Joel Anderson: That didn’t sound like audio from January six, so.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: We should run the language one twice at the top of the show. Also, Joe, I haven’t heard anything like that since the last time almost frat boys got together.


Joel Anderson: Oh, man. That little rumble swing the sig up. Yeah, that was amazing.

Stefan Fatsis: All right, so the fish were stuffed with lead balls. Nine of them each the size of an egg totaling £7. At one point in the video, Fisher pulls out a walleye fillet jammed down the fish’s throats, along with the weights, apparently to cushion.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Where he’s shoved fish down The fish?

Stefan Fatsis: Yes. The way it’s sort of like as. As bumpers to keep the weights from bumping against each other and making noise. And that was in a story by D’Arcy Egan and the Cleveland Plain Dealer on the video. You could also hear Fisher tell one of the guilty fisherman, Jacob Runyon, who was watching impassively as the fish and his reputation were gutted to leave, and also ask the angry Fisher mob not to touch the guys. Egan reported that the other fishermen on the team, these are teams of two Chase Kaminski, had locked himself in his truck.

Stefan Fatsis: But let’s be clear. This is serious shit. The screaming dudes in the video are all wearing shirts and jackets and caps plastered with logos for boat manufacturers and bait and lure makers and the names of tournaments and cartoon drawings of walleye. There were more than 32 man teams in the Lake Erie Walleye Trail event competing for serious money. The lead stuffing fisherman would have won first place and nearly 30 grand in prizes. And after winning three earlier Lake Erie walleye trail events, they were about to be crowned team of the year.

Stefan Fatsis: The New York Times quoted a pro angler named Ross Robertson who said that, like in chess and poker, technology has made the sport more competitive, increasing fishing ability and also the incentive to cheat. Robertson described for the time some common cheats having someone deliver pre caught fish fishing in prohibited areas, putting fish in cages before a competition and stuffing fish with ice before the weigh in so that the ice will melt and leave no forensic trail. Events do appear to take steps to combat cheating, according to the Times story.


Stefan Fatsis: Jason Fisher, the tournament director. I just realized his name is, Fisher said. Disgraced Winters had taken voice, stress and polygraph tests for his tournaments, a common practice for winners of such events and had passed. After the event, Fisher posted on the tournament’s Facebook page. Anglers I’m still at a loss for words, and for that I apologize. All loot Lake Erie Walleye Trail. All loot anglers deserve better. I will take time and figure out how I can solidify the integrity of our sport here on Erie.

Stefan Fatsis: The Post has around 100 comments, all sympathetic and supportive. Fisher turned over the evidence, the fish and lead balls and the walleye fillet, I guess, to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, which the Post reported is investigating and could refer the case to the Cuyahoga County prosecutor. More important, let’s hope that Jason and all the honest fishermen can recover quickly and get back in their boats and tie their lines and weigh their catches with confidence and honesty. The loot season might be over, but the 2022 Lake Erie fall brawl is just a couple of weeks away.

Joel Anderson: Before before we move on here. Just somebody write in and explain to me what the police were supposed to do there because they kept asking big fella to call the police. What? How are they supposed to prosecute?

Stefan Fatsis: Try to walk away. Okay, Joe.

Joel Anderson: So I. Let me know. I want to know. Okay.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Is it true that this got discovered because they banged the fish full of weights against the garbage can? Oh.

Joel Anderson: Notoriously clean LSU football program over here trying to throw. Some shots I hear.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Reflect, deflect, deflect. And it’s the strategy. I get it.


Stefan Fatsis: Josh, what’s your. We got weights and fish.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: We got weights. And fish is, as we discussed, a lot of talk of cheating on this podcast. There’s a lot of controversy over who has the so-called real home run record. You got Barry Bonds juicer, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa juicers. They it’s really hilarious that Roger Maris is now talked about as the guy with the real record when the kind of prevailing attitude at the time was that his record needed an asterisk because he did it in 162 game season while Babe Ruth had 60 and 154 game season. So Ruth hit 60 the record that Maris surpassed in 1927. But Ruth first took the single season record eight years before that in 1919. That was the first season where Ruth played in more than 100 games as a hitter.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: The last season, where he was anything close to a full time pitcher, Jacob Pomeranz wrote a story for Saber Dawgs Society for American Baseball Research about that 1919 homerun chase. Ruth tied the record on July 29th when he hit his 16th home run of the season. That record had been held by the immortal Sox Seabold. According to another Sabir article, in spite of being somewhat maligned by the Philadelphia Press for his rotund figure and voracious appetite, Sox seabold at 511 and somewhere around £200 was a popular figure with the fans and his teammates. So good for Sox. But we digress. Ruth broke the Al record on August 14th against the White Sox. Driving in Baraga RATH, a man once described as the exasperating grain of dust in the eye of whatever ball team he became associated with. No big, rich, not big bragging fans.


Josh Levin, Josh Levine: But back to Babe. On September 8th, 1919, he, for the first time, broke the Major League record of 25 home runs that had been held by a fellow named Buck Freeman. But wait. According to Jacob Rank Saber Dawg article, Then someone discovered an old time slugger Ed Williamson of the Chicago White Stockings, who’d been credited with 27 home runs in 1884. So are you telling me that 103 years ago there was a controversy about who had the real home run record?

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Yes, I am. Ed Williamson, known in some sources as Ned Williamson, did indeed hit 27 home runs in 1884. He played for the white stockings at Lake Park in Chicago. There’s some disagreement on the dimensions of Lake Park, but again, according to some sources, the right field fence may have been less than 200 feet from home plate, which is less than a standard Little League field. And now I will quote a different article by John C Tattersall from the Baseball Research Journal. During the years prior to 1884, the prevailing ground rule provided that a ball batted over the fence at Lake Park must be scored as a two base hit a double. But sometime before the start of the 1884 season, some brilliant strategist in the Chicago camp recognizing the ability of the Chicago batters both right and left handed alike to punch balls over the right field fence, decided to go all out and legalize an over the right field fence hit as a home run. Then the fun started.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: All right, back to me. The fun involved 197 home runs in just 56 games. And Ed Slash and Ed Williamson had 25 of those home runs and just two on the road in six seasons before that. Added Slash and Ed had just eight home runs in 1975 at bats. Now, Joel unclear whether he was taking Witch Hazel or I don’t know. He was his bodily humors were out of balance. The contemporaneous sources don’t indicate. But you can understand, given that home road breakdown, why Major League Baseball historian John Thorn described the Ed Ned record as tainted. But you can also understand why 138 years later, I’m going to say that Ned, critics are jealous losers.


Josh Levin, Josh Levine: So sure, Babe Ruth broke the old record on September 24th, 1919. He did end up with 29 home runs that year, setting the record. Wow. But here at 27 Outfitters. We know who the real, the real home run champ has. Even if we’re not sure about his first name. So he’ll add. And also, just to be safe.

Joel Anderson: Hail, mad, mad man. I mean, people have been arguing about this boring ass record forever, man. It’s great. That’s the best thing. Best thing Barry Bonds ever did is to make people frustrated about this forever and put the record so far out of reach that we get to continue this. So, I mean, certainly the rest of my life.

Stefan Fatsis: Can I just point out that Babe Ruth and Roger Maris, both left handed batters played in Yankee Stadium where the distance down the right field line was Joel you want to make a guess in the old, old Yankee Stadium? The original Yankee Stadium?

Joel Anderson: How far was. Yeah, that to 275, something like that?

Stefan Fatsis: Close to 96.

Joel Anderson: Really? Oh, wow. That guy was close. I was close. Hey, also, one thing about Babe Ruth that a lot of people I mean, it’s possible that some of those baseball players were playing against, say, a Negro player when they played against Babe Ruth. We don’t we don’t know for sure. So, you know, we don’t have. It’s 21 and me 23.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: You want to be 61.

Joel Anderson: Inches.

Stefan Fatsis: 61 and he.

Joel Anderson: Is 60, whatever. So, yeah. So you know who’s. Who’s to say? Who’s to say?


Josh Levin, Josh Levine: That is our show for today. Our producer and genetic counselor is Kevin Bendis. Plus, Natasha is an subscriber just ready to go to slash hang up. You can email us and hang up at Don’t forget to subscribe to the show and rate and review us on Apple Podcasts for Joel Anderson and Stefan Fatsis. Josh Levin remembers almost 80. And thanks for listening.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Now. It is time for our bonus segment for Slate Plus members. And here are some behind the scenes at Hang up and Listen HQ for for you the Slate Plus members. We were going to watch the Amazon. Thursday Night Football broadcast for a potential segment on the state of streaming. How we consume these games. And then lo and behold, we’re watching this stream and to it Tagovailoa gets slung to the ground fencing posture and the whole conversation and the world changes. So we do not do that segment, but we’re going to talk about it.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: You’re just curious. We do have people inquire every now and again, Joel, about like how we watch all of the sports that we watch and talk about. I know that you have your routine on Saturdays of following lots of stuff. And so, yeah, I guess I don’t know if you want to start with the Amazon thing and sort of how you see all this breaking out or if you just want to talk a little bit about what your kind of habits are at home.

Joel Anderson: I mean, we’ve been told that this is the future, right? I’m not as good at the smart TV stuff or the streaming stuff as a lot of other people. But I do have an Amazon Prime subscription and which my wife uses quite a bit. So we were able to get prime video fairly easy. Like, I mean, you know, I just went to my TV here and my, my office that I record from and just put in my information. It popped right up. And so you.


Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Never you never watched prime video until like this past week.

Joel Anderson: This was the first time that I f that I ever decided to because you made me.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: So but I think this is like the be like, mildly serious. Like, I think this is why Amazon is paying so much money for Nflx. Right? So it’s like one of the few things that you can get people to like. You know, pony up for catch up.

Joel Anderson: Never done it before because I guess, like, I just and unless you had made me, I think I probably would have kept looking at the NFL network or trying to figure it out. You know what I mean? Like, I don’t it’s not in my habit to to to use streaming services to watch sports yet that’s just that’s that’s the first time with the exception of like you know I that Twitter every now and again would broadcast a game on on Twitter live or whatever and you could watch a game one they.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Never watch ESPN any of that stuff.

Joel Anderson: I mean, I. I guess so. I guess in a manner of speaking. Does that concern of streaming, is that the same thing?

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: What you watch it on your TV there on?

Joel Anderson: I guess I wish I had my phone. Okay. All right. Well, I guess this is this is how removed from the world of technology I am. But every now and again. ESPN plus, there’ll be a game like Texas State, whatever, or something like that or HBCU game. And yeah, I would use it like that. But very, very rarely. It’s very hard to get me out of my like normal pattern, which is to sit in front of the TV and have broadcasters bring it to me.


Josh Levin, Josh Levine: So you’re still like cable flipping back and forth between games?

Joel Anderson: Yeah, that’s me. That’s me. I’m old fashioned. Me. This 1997 over here.

Joel Anderson: Okay. What good are you? What do you. What about are you doing seven?

Stefan Fatsis: I mean, I’m watching a lot of soccer when I you know, if there’s a game I want to watch on Espn+ or other streaming services. Peacock I do. Peacock Yes. So if Leeds or Chelsea are not on the one or two or three games that they’re showing on the family of NBC network, and.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: We decided to pay for that because we wanted to watch soccer.

Stefan Fatsis: Pretty much.

Joel Anderson: Yeah. Wait, you didn’t get Peacock because of the Olympics? You had it before? Because the Olympics was, I mean, a big piece of, like, the peacock rollout right before.

Stefan Fatsis: Actually, I think I was paying them before that. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, I do not I we have a shitty Wi-Fi connection where our TV is, so I typically, if I’m watching a streaming game, it’s your situation of, you know, laptop set up to watch the stream and then TV set up to watch on a traditional network. If there’s more than one on at a time or I plug the laptop into the TV to get a better feed.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: So this is really embarrassing to do all that stuff. And who grew up with probably having to walk up to the television and turn the dial.

Stefan Fatsis: You know, move that, move the rabbit ears around. Yeah. I grew up.

Joel Anderson: Watching TV like that. I had a TV, I had a TV’s last radio, black and white, like four inch screen. Oh, wow. So. Oh, yeah. So don’t. That was my first TV. So, yeah, no, I’m. I’m older than you think I am.


Josh Levin, Josh Levine: I think you’re about the age that I think you are.

Joel Anderson: Okay, well, just what do you watch, then? How do you. We use that for.

Stefan Fatsis: The most sophisticated his son’s got go I find on his TV.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: So does anybody ever watch streams of things that are not officially sanctioned by the providers?

Stefan Fatsis: Mhm. Yes. It’s going to be a show on that.

Joel Anderson: I would never do anything illegal.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Guess even if there was like a good boxing match on.

Joel Anderson: I mean, I mean you just if it’s a good boxing match to pay for it.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Exactly. You got to pay it, you got to pay for everything. I was just testing. I was just testing.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Oh, you guys know, So I can’t remember why we have, like, way too many streaming things for reasons that I don’t quite understand. But, yeah, I, I.

Stefan Fatsis: Like.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: The Amazon broadcast the, the week before and I watched this past one and yeah I’m like always watching stuff on my phone like I have the fire So we have the fires and I have like the fires app where you can like watch TV on your phones. I’m like always watching the Tennis Channel on my phone. Maybe the worst sport to watch on your phone. And yet I process correctly.

Stefan Fatsis: Yeah. I watched way too much of the U.S. Open on my phone.

Joel Anderson: So that’s clearly a subpar experience compared to sitting in front of the T.V..

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Right, Right. But like, so what ESPN does now for the U.S. Open, for instance, as you can watch every match and this is a thing that’s way, way different. And I don’t I’m not saying we need to, like, stop and just like praise the sports gods, but it’s just like, you know, Joel, I know you’re old enough to remember that sometimes growing up, there might be a game that you wanted to watch that wasn’t on television. Oh, and like, your favorite team was on and you had also on the radio or like to see the score the next day. It’s just like every game is on now. But sometimes those games are on alternate feeds or you have to pay extra for them. And so, yeah, on the U.S. Open, there might be a game, a match on like a side court that you either have to watch on your laptop or you have to go to the ESPN app on your smart TV, or sometimes it’s just easier to play it on your phone through like the ESPN app.


Stefan Fatsis: Now we are spoiled. I mean, we are ridiculously spoiled. And if you’re, you know, even older than I or as old as I, I mean, you can barely watch anything, right? And the fact that you can pretty much watch any sporting event is absurd. The soccer is the best example of that. And both for technological and cultural reasons, I mean, as recently as ten or 15 years ago, I mean, it was still pretty slim if you wanted to watch European soccer. And now, I mean, I get a daily email of all soccer broadcasts from Soccer America publication, and it’s ridiculous what you can see.

Stefan Fatsis: And we’re now at a point where, you know, yeah, we complain about the issues that this is presenting. I mean, I’m sort of surprised that the Amazon deal. Generates as much sort of skepticism as it has. I mean, apparently like the last week, which I did not attempt to watch Pittsburgh against Cleveland on September 22nd, there were streaming issues. It was going in and out. It didn’t look really good. Watching the game this past Thursday kind of looked like a game.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Yeah, it looked like as good as broadcast quality. I mean, yeah, The thing that.

Stefan Fatsis: Al Michaels was talking to me.

Joel Anderson: Is it the skepticism, because people that watch TV tend to be older and the idea is that those people are not. Yeah, man, I deal with my parents, you know, they’re senior citizens and they would never they would never watch a game one stream like it would be very difficult. I if I would have to set it up for them. So the majority of people that are still watching TV and grew up in that world are probably getting at the age where the technology is going to be a problem. Right. And that’s that maybe that’s maybe that’s the skepticism. I mean.


Stefan Fatsis: As ever, Joel, I mean, you know, every technological advance is going to shut out generations.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Yeah. And I think there’s also skepticism around the fact that Amazon does not have a a news organization attached to it, which led to the issues around talking about to a concussion. They’re talking about Deshaun Watson’s sexual assault allegations. But like when I was watching that stuff, I was like, Al Michaels is talking about this in the exact same way he would if he was on NBC. Like that didn’t strike me as being anything that had to do with streaming. I guess the thing that’s interesting is like the none of us, it seems like our cord cutters, right?

Joel Anderson: No. Yeah. No, I just. Yeah, I, I still am, but still.

Stefan Fatsis: And maybe that is the. Maybe that’s the divide.

Joel Anderson: Yeah. I don’t want to go through the trouble it takes to track down everything on streaming. And also, like, streaming is notoriously unreliable. I mean, you know.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: You have internet problems, you know that they don’t. Yeah.

Stefan Fatsis: They don’t know what they’re doing out there.

Joel Anderson: I mean, I mean, it is true. I mean, my computer does go out every week except for this one.

Stefan Fatsis: And and the other factor here is that all of us can afford to have conventional cable and pay for it. And on top of that, pay for your Hulu’s and your Amazons and your HBO Max’s.

Joel Anderson: Yeah. I don’t want to seem ungrateful because I don’t want to seem like I’m skeptical of this stuff, that this technology because. Yeah, I mean, to Stephanie’s point, I mean, growing up, it would be questionable as to whether you’d even be able to watch the local NFL team in your your area on a because of blackouts. Because of blackouts or I remember watching Rockets games, they wouldn’t be able to televise them on TV like a lot of them. If you could watch it on the home network, like you had to listen to a radio broadcast on TV because they wouldn’t show the game on TV. And this is in the nineties. So I’m I’m excited to your point.


Joel Anderson: So it it was exciting to watch because like, oh, this looks just like any TV broadcast of an NFL game that I’ve been watching my entire life. Right. Like different from the Al Michaels, you know, Kirk, Herb Street the people that around the table like it was exactly the same thing. Like I didn’t I didn’t feel like we were missing anything. Right. Like it felt like an authentic NFL viewing experience.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Yeah. And it’s like you can get pissed off about the fact that, you know, Tim Burke has documented this, the the video sports guru, that production quality is often lower on these kind of second tier games, the ones that show on streaming that there’s not on site announcers a lot of the time as a cost saving measure. And so you know as we kind of trumpet and herald how great all of this stuff is, that’s something to keep in mind. But like we do get to watch the games, like.

Stefan Fatsis: Yeah, and those are temporary. I mean, you know, if you looked at the quality of the broadcast that I grew up with or even you guys grew up with, you know, with our our, our square television screens and blurry images, oh, you can’t see the hockey puck. Those are all going to change. That’s all going to get better. I mean, watching on your phone is going to be clearer and more precise.

Joel Anderson: I mean, your phone is going to be a TV like within within a generation. It is for probably yeah, for most.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So and I think the thing that’s kind of annoying with cord cutting and I’m sure you get this with soccer too, Stefan, is that there’s no way to get everything you want to watch with a single service and so. It just requires Yeah, it requires you to pay pay a lot of money to, you know, do a lot of digging to to try to find things. And also a lot of times if something has most of y you watch, you just have to kind of reconcile yourself to missing certain things.


Stefan Fatsis: Right. And I mean, how much of this is inertia? If we were in our early to mid twenties and did not have the money to do this and grew up with watching 90% of of visual content on our phones, you know, this would not be an issue like there would be no court to cut because we would never have had a court to begin with.

Joel Anderson: Yeah, I mean, the least interesting conversation my friends have is, oh, I’ve got this. I’m saving this much money by not using cable. And I’ve, you know, gotten this service and I’m just like, please, I just don’t I don’t want to hear about any of that anymore. You know what I mean? Like, to me, it’s just not a big deal to still have cable. But yeah, I think that if I made a little less money or I was a little younger, that I would probably be so motivated to go out and get that. But like, first, can you get the NFL red zone on streaming? Like, is that there are a streaming service or is that attached to a cable package?

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: Yeah. So you can pay for RedZone a la carte, $35 a year and then some streaming services have it and some don’t. And you can Google NFL RedZone streaming and there are a lot of places that are doing the SEO game that can that have articles that tell you exactly what you need. But yeah, it’s like you’ve got everything that you want. You’ve got to try to triangulate whether that service is right for you. And people have done guides for this thing that Joel’s friends can text him if he wants.

Joel Anderson: Yeah, man. I mean, look, man, you can watch any NFL game you want. You can watch Creighton basketball any game you want at any time in this country. It’s a it’s a marvelous time to be a sports fan.

Josh Levin, Josh Levine: So thank you, Slate plus members for paying for this. We appreciate it. And we’ll be back with more next week.