"Let Me Be Your Editor": the Paradox of Authorship in Miller & Lindbergh's "Effectively Wild". A. Benjamin, 2016.
We witnessed a subtly crucial moment this week in the final chapter of the critically acclaimed Effectively Wild. At the 7:02 mark of Episode 967, "The Miraculous Mr. Lester", Miller momentarily falls too deep in his own confusing web of digressions, eventually asking Lindbergh, "...what were we talking about?". After Lindbergh coaches Miller through an unwinding of the just-concluded convoluted monologue, a profound and seemingly endless silence ensues, and it's nearly a minute before Miller gets back on track. As soon as he recovers, his first instinct is to exact a promise from Lindbergh; Miller makes him promise not to edit out the silence, pleading, "just this one time, let me be your editor".
As Miller certainly understood, that silence was utterly disorienting to the listener, who by means of Lindberghs's slick editing had been tricked over the years into thinking that the co-host's prolixity, their virtuosity with thought experiments, always flowed freely, never veering off into an embarrassing dead end or brain fart. The reason we listened, it seemed, was that these two had an uncanny knack for organizing and deconstructing spontaneous baseball discussion, thereby imbuing it with a certain academic rigor.
By including this silence in Episode 967, Miller has debunked one of the fundamental conceits in the drama (I'm assuming here that we read Effectively Wild as a 1000-part dramatic audio film performed and released sporadically over a 5 year period). Simultaneously, through the specificity of his phrase "Just this one time..." he has foreshadowed the imminent end of the series. To the end, Miller remained the central enigma, the driving dramatic force behind Effectively Wild and the primary instigator of its most radical assertions, while maintaining a skeptical position towards the validity of the series itself.
Notably, Lindbergh is thus portrayed as a embodying a different contradiction; one of identity, and of authorship. By existing as simultaneously the second player in the drama and the editor (and thus, the meta-author) of the series, Lindbergh problematizes the legitimacy of the creative act. It's a sort of quantum two-states-at-once role that takes Lindbergh's serene confidence to execute convincingly. Not even Fellini or Herzog dared to both act in, and be the editor of, their films. Such moxie required the unexpected present, in which sabermetrically oriented baseball writing in general, and the podcasts by Baseball Prospectus in particular, embedded into their sports journalism the most salient developments in structural criticism of our new century.