Dirt: Sleep baseball
ASMR-ican League Champs
Baseball is only boring in a vacuum. Like its sister sport, cricket, baseball is best appreciated as ambience. The game’s leisurely pace and long periods of inaction provide the perfect soundtrack for a day at the park with your dad, or killing a few hours with your friends and a six-pack. Baseball on the radio enhances this ambience until it becomes ASMR via the play-by-play announcer’s rhythmic mumbling. (Somehow, all baseball announcers have the exact same vocal cadence, regardless of where they’re from or where their team is headquartered.) But what if the general vibe of baseball was more than an excuse to see your family or pals? What if baseball was in fact the perfect sleep aid?
Northwoods Baseball Sleep Radio is a simple, straightforward podcast concept executed with the precision and care of a true baseball fan. Each episode is a complete broadcast of a minor-league baseball game, between imaginary teams of imaginary players, called by the fictitious play-by-play man Wally McCarthy, and interspersed with short ads for businesses that don’t exist. This excises the usual agony of following a real team, like a sort of Brechtian alienation effect that removes all suspense.
The Northwoods Radio Network also cannily avoids the true stumbling block to baseball radio’s ASMR status: decibel spikes from commercials for personal injury firms and car dealerships. Maintaining a consistent volume brings the final product to almost narcotic levels of relaxation.
The creators don’t overdo it with the “sleep” part, however. The audio mix blends the baseball and crowd sound effects seamlessly with the commentary. Every last bit of ballpark ambience is present, even the shitty little organ riffs and vendors shouting “Beer!”
Colorful player names (Brank Filbert, Sharky Bush, Schmitty Diaz, etc) feel straight out of the roster from a viral meme. The creators also indulge in a little world-building, baking in a little bit of backstory and lore for the teams, the Big Rapids Timbers and the Tomah Tigers. The content is just charming enough to amuse you while awake, but not so important that you have stay awake to finish it. — Ben Firke