I am subscribed to around 50 YouTube channels. Among them is Foolish Baseball, a channel that is about… well… baseball. With over 140,000 subscribers, Foolish Baseball is one of the more popular baseball channels to be found.
Here’s Bailey, the mastermind behind it all:
Question: What draws you to less mainstream players such as Tim Locastro (an Outfielder on the Diamondbacks who can steal first base) and Rod Barajas (a catcher with the inability to throw batters out)?
Answer: They’re outliers. It’s that simple. I, and most other sports fans, are drawn to athletes that are extreme in one way or another. It explains the collective fascination with everyone from Bartolo Colón to Terrance Gore. For me, this manifests in talking about players that are excellent or terrible at one thing. In addition to Locastro and Barajas, Jeff Mathis also fits this description. Any player that pushes the sport to an extreme is probably worth talking about.
Question: How do you come up with ideas for videos?
Answer: I’m sometimes inspired while reading about baseball on sites like FanGraphs or Baseball Prospectus. It’s not that I scan text looking specifically for video topics, but certain words and concepts can definitely trigger ideas. I’ve heard similar stories about comedians who look for joke-writing inspiration while flipping through the dictionary. I think some of the best premises for videos aren’t just about a player or a team, rather a baseball concept.
My Andrelton Simmons video isn’t really just about Andrelton Simmons, it’s about advanced defensive metrics and the value of an elite defender. My Mark Buehrle video isn’t just about Mark Buehrle, it’s about pace of play. So I often come up with the concept first, then use players to illustrate that concept. Some people probably think I do it the other way around, but that’s not always the case. It’s easy to find intriguing baseball players, but it’s harder to find the right thing to say about them.
Question: How do you create your famous player sprites?
Answer: I find player photos, shrinking them down to 60×60 size, sampling all the colors I’ll need from the photos, and tracing my own version. I actually have a video on my Patreon that shows the process step-by-step, but that’s the gist of it. Finding the right player photo is sometimes the hardest part. I can usually use a current player’s headshot from MLB.com as a reference photo, but it can be difficult to find a good fit for historical players, as I’m looking for photographs where the subject is staring head-on at the camera. The entire process usually takes about 45-60 minutes per sprite. The good news is that I really only have to re-create half of their face, then I simply mirror it on the other side. Baseball Bits assumes that every player’s face is identical, but that’s not always true. Max Scherzer‘s eyes threw me for a loop.
Question: In your mind, what is your best video?
Answer: When I assess my videos, there are two things that I grade. The first grade is premise. Is this video’s premise exciting? Was it worthwhile to devote two, three weeks of my life to it? The second grade is execution. Have I created the best video possible, given the premise? Is the writing sharp? Is the video good from a technical level? Occasionally these grades will be different. For example, the aforementioned Buehrle video is an A+ premise with B- execution. The David Ortiz video is a C+ premise with A- execution.
Occasionally, I’ll create a video that receives top marks from myself in both premise AND execution. One of those is the Tim Locastro episode of Baseball Bits. Tim Locastro himself was absolutely golden as a video topic, as he was a downright bizarre ballplayer who hadn’t been talked about much. The execution was wonderful as well, as I’m particularly fond of my high energy voiceover. The end result is a video with over a million views, so the Youtube algorithm is a fan of Locastro as well.