Podcasts that reframe sports narrative

Curated by Alex Bazeley and Bobby Wagner, the creators of Tipping Pitches

Bobby Wagner is a podcast producer at The Ringer and a New York Mets superfan who is adjusting to life in Los Angeles, where he has to sit in traffic in a car to get to a baseball game, not stand for an hour on a subway to get to a baseball game.

Alex Bazeley is a freelance journalist living in New York, where he writes about music and baseball but mostly just yells that minor leaguers should be paid more to anyone who will pretend to listen.

Here, they present a collection of podcasts that think critically about culture, often reframing the conversation and narrative to amplify underrepresented communities, or present hypotheticals that history may have overlooked.

When discovering what Tipping Pitches was going to be about, we tried to think about the things we weren’t hearing the majority of baseball podcasts and TV shows talk about: labor, dog whistle racism, players as distinct personalities that were interesting beyond their batting average. A good number of these podcasts gave us the language with which we talk about the things we truly care about in baseball, and also the confidence to remember that sports matter, and that culture matters.

These shows go above and beyond when thinking critically about the culture they exist in. They implore us to think critically about the sports world, a mission that we try to carry out at Tipping Pitches. But whether they focus on sporting culture or not, what brings these podcasts into rotation is the ethos with which they approach a problem or a historical event and think about it honestly and intelligently.

We hope there’s something for everybody in this collection — narrative podcasts, pleasant banter, weekly radio installments, and more. But if not, we’d love to hear what you’d add to this collection! We’re always looking for more pods to listen to. Reach out to us on Twitter @tipping_pitches or email us at tippingpitchespod@gmail.com.

View, follow, and listen to the whole collection of shows on RadioPublic, available on iPhone and Android.

Tipping Pitches

Tipping Pitches is a show that was borne from the idea that baseball, as currently constructed, takes itself too seriously. If baseball doesn’t care enough about the superstars that are right in front of its face, so full of life and excitement, then we will. But in the last year of doing this show, we’ve found an additional lane talking about the things no one wants to talk about — baseball as a way of understanding culture, baseball’s corrupt ownership structure, and baseball’s steadfast desire to remain in the 1950s.

Upon Further Review

Upon Further Review — a podcast dedicated to the greatest “what-if” moments in sports history — is a delightful find for the listener who isn’t crazy about day-to-day box scores, but would rather think about the way sports can alter history and culture. It’s so creative in the ways that it imagines what might’ve happened, and whether it matters how different that is from what actually did happen.

30 for 30 Podcasts

Coming from the creators of the acclaimed documentary film series by the same name, this short-form narrative podcast explores stories from the world of sports that exist at the periphery. It examines the things that we take for granted and the things we didn’t even know existed, striving to give more depth to our understanding of the humanity of sports.

Only A Game

The breadth of the NPR universe makes for a sports podcast that has the ability to tell niche stories that would otherwise go so far over your head — like going deep on the history of women’s baseball in the same episode they do a feature on a specific branch of the YMCA.

Edge of Sports

Dave Zirin of The Nation brings listeners a critical lens through which to view the current sports stories and trends, tying in cultural and political commentary to offer a more holistic view of the past and present. Zirin asks listeners to engage with the darker underbelly of sports by centering conversations that often live at the edge of the landscape.

American Fiasco

In almost every way, American Fiasco sets the standard not just for how to recount a dramatic historical event, but to track down every fallout from that event and assess its impact. Sure, it tells the story of the epic failure of the 1994 United States Men’s Soccer Team. But through deep reporting and charismatic storytelling, it also fashions a world in which that team didn’t fail, and what that might mean for the state of soccer in our culture.

Three Swings with Rhea Butcher

Comedian and writer Rhea Butcher presents listeners an accessible and alternative means of looking at the baseball world, often focusing on stories of communities that have historically been marginalized in the sport or written out of the history books entirely. They bring engaging interviews and fascinating stories you may have never heard of to each episode of the show, resulting in a must-listen for anyone seeking to move beyond the headlines of the day.

Productive Outs

Productive Outs is a product of two California boys who like music and baseball — sound familiar yet? The duo chat about all of the above in tandem with one another, skewing towards topics that might not necessarily be on your radar, all while having fun and keeping a goofy attitude throughout it.

Resting Pitchface

One of the best things a sports podcast can do is know when to be serious and when not to be. Resting Pitchface, a roundtable conversation about MLB and its many fascinating characters, knows that baseball is a game worth loving like when we were kids, but also knows the value in critiquing the myriad of ways it could be better.

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Want to create your own collection of shows that dovetails with your area of interest? Add shows to your Smart Folder on RadioPublic, then inform the Podcast Librarian of your collection: librarian@radiopublic.com.

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