I first came across Jonah Keri when he was a guest on Bill Simmon’s podcast when he was at ESPN, long before Grantland even (may it RIP). I was first drawn to him as a fellow baseball fan. His understanding of advanced stats does not come with any snark or arrogance, and he does a great job of explaining what each stat means and how it is best used.
But I don’t want you to think he just discusses statistics, far from it. Keri delves deep into the game, and absolutely loves baseball lore. His interviews with the likes of Bill “Spaceman” Lee and Michael Farber are like an audio book about the mythology of baseball and life. However, now I am painting his podcast as exclusively a baseball one, which it most certainly is not.
Since moving to the Nerdist Network after the demise of Grantland, Keri has branched out more from baseball and sports in general. Although, my favorite interviews are still the ones that go into more about the subject’s life and philosophy. His interview with Bill Walton is still one of my favorite interviews of all-time.
Anyone can sit down with a legendary basketball player and discuss games, but Keri goes much deeper. Not only do they get into Walton’s back problems, but discuss how it affected his mood, life, and philosophy on living. They also get into his early days of playing Wilt Chamberlain as a high schooler in the offseason, but from the perspective of a high schooler, not just what fundamentals he picked up.
The variety of guests and topics discussed is wide ranging from journalists, to play-by-play announcers, color commentators, former and current GMs, ex-players, team owners, actors, musicians, and anyone in between. He had his new, podcast boss, Chris Hardwick, on one episode, who admittedly knows nothing about sports, and it still could, probably, pass as a sports podcast.
Each episode ends with a life tip from the guest, whether it’s how to change the way you approach something or how you should approach air travel. If you’re looking for something different to listen to, this is a great podcast, even if you’re not a sports fan. While every episode might not be for you, I highly recommend giving a few different ones a listen.