Eliot Barrengos, Sports Editor
One night this past February, I was sitting at my desk, procrastinating on my psychology homework. My poison of choice in putting off my work tends to be podcasts, of which I am an avid listener, specifically of Major League Baseball (MLB) podcasts. But baseball is not played in February and, on this particular night, I was having trouble finding something worth listening to. I had recently stumbled upon a new podcast from Sirius XM and I figured I’d listen to their newest episode on previewing the international tournament known as the World Baseball Classic.
About an hour into my procrastination expedition, the two hosts, Jake and Jordan, began to banter about how Jordan and one of the players on Team Israel shared an alma mater: The College of Wooster. I had to pause the podcast and scour the internet to confirm this new information. Was it really true that one of these baseball media members had gone to Wooster? Indeed it was. Not long after, I reached out to Jordan Shusterman to tell him what a big fan I was becoming of his work.
As a baseball fan, a Wooster student and an avid consumer of baseball media, I was eager to see if I could find a way to write about Jordan and his journey to the baseball media world. What I discovered was that Jordan wasn’t exactly planning on becoming a member of the Baseball Writer Association of America. In the fall of 2013, when he stepped onto the campus of The College of Wooster, he was planning on majoring in geology, but he eventually switched over to communications studies, a major that better fits his current profession. Cespedes Family BQQ, the brainchild of Shusterman, and his high school friend, Jake Mintz, are staples in the baseball Twitter world. Initially, the blog mostly featured baseball satire and memes (the name is derived from a video from the early 2010’s in which former Athletes and Mets outfielder Yoneis Cespedes is seen roasting a whole hog over a fire). The blog, which has evolved into a Twitter account with over 142,000 followers and their podcast, appropriately named Baseball Bar-B-Cast, has netted Shusterman and Mintz jobs writing for Fox Sports as MLB analysts. The podcast, which has had multiple variations, is now under the umbrella of Sirius XM with hour-long episodes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. When I spoke to Jordan last week and gushed about the podcast, he told me that they had started the podcast mostly as a way of keeping in touch while the two went to different schools. “Jake and I started doing it in high school 10 years ago,” said Shusterman. The two started with a website then moved to twitter almost a decade ago Shusterman continued saying that in college the podcast “was just a way for us to stay in touch. It wasn’t meant to be a podcast that anybody else listens to. It was like, we’re having fun with this. We are having the opportunity to interview people just because we’re sending them DMs and they’re like, “Sure”, I’ll come on your podcast.”
After Wooster, Jordan was hired by Cut-4 (a baseball satire website owned by the MLB). From there, he and Jake found themselves hosting a show for DAZN, a sports streaming corporation, out of the MLB network studios in Secaucus, New Jersey. Their show known as “Change-up” aired on the weekends through the 2019 season and what followed were two of the most tumultuous years in baseball history, the COVID-19 pandemic and the 99 day MLB owners lockout in 2021 and 2022.
The podcast, which didn’t find a true home until the duo signed with Sirius XM last fall, will get its first real run this season. “With the lockout ending in the middle of March, like it was so crazy with our Fox Sport stuff,” in the chaos of the lockout Jake and Jordan decided to “just put the podcast aside. And so that’s why we did not podcast for most of last season, because we don’t want to just start this recklessly. We want[ed] to find a home for it.”As an aspiring sports journalist myself, I was hopeful that Shusterman might be able to help me understand how he got to where he is now, and what young people in my position could do to carve out our own space in the baseball media world. But as any journalist will tell you, there is no perfect model of how to do it, in journalism or in life. “The problem is now, because in some senses, it is so easy to start your own podcast and start our own blog. You would think it would be easier in a sense, and I think that is true. But you’ve got to do it because you love it. And then you’ve got to make good impressions on people that are in those positions. And then you gotta find a way to separate yourself, I guess, is the best way to say it.”