Slate's Hang Up and Listen

Slate's Hang Up and Listen

United States

A weekly sports discussion from the online magazine Slate. Hang Up and Listen features Slate sports editor Josh Levin, writer Stefan Fatsis (author of A Few Seconds of Panic), and Mike Pesca, host of Slate's The Gist. Part of the Panoply Network.


The Moneyball for Rich People Edition  

Stefan Fatsis and Josh Levin are joined by Johnette Howard to discuss Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension, tennis writer Ben Rothenberg comes on to talk about Sascha Zverev, and Mike Schur analyzes the Los Angeles Dodgers’ excellence.

Ezekiel Elliott (2:16): Johnette Howard joins to review the domestic abuse allegations leveled against the Cowboys running back, if the NFL punishment system worked in this case, and whether the suspension marks a change in the NFL’s treatment of alleged victims.

Sascha Zverev (15:14): New York Times tennis writer Ben Rothenberg and Johnette assess Zverev’s impressive defeat of Roger Federer and if the 20-year-old can be the one to finally unseat tennis’ Big 4.

Los Angeles Dodgers (27:47): The Good Place creator Mike Schur discusses how the Dodgers got so great, the team’s transition from lousy to good (and rich) ownership, and how fans in L.A. might react to another early postseason exit.

Afterballs (47:17):

The Pray for the Ravens Edition  

Stefan Fatsis and Josh Levin are joined by ProPublica’s David Epstein to discuss Usain Bolt’s loss to Justin Gatlin. The Irish Times’ Ken Early also talks about Neymar’s record-setting transfer, and Josh and Stefan analyze Colin Kaepernick’s NFL exile.

Usain Bolt (1:14): David Epstein joins to dissect Usain Bolt’s final competitive 100-meter race, Justin Gatlin’s surprise win, and how the sport is handling its perpetual doping problems.

Neymar (19:06): Ken Early assesses the shocking departure of the Brazilian star from Barcelona, the mind-boggling price paid by Paris Saint-Germain, and why he believes the transfer is such a tragedy.   

Colin Kaepernick (32:10): Josh and Stefan discuss whether the league is colluding against the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback and whether it would ever be possible to prove such collusion is happening.

Afterballs (49:20):

The Greyhens Not Grayhens Edition  

Stefan Fatsis and Josh Levin are joined by sportswriter Jessica Luther to discuss girls in baseball. Dan Nosowitz also talks about trends in basketball sneakers, and Scrabble champion Will Anderson comes on the show to recount his victory.

Girls in Baseball (1:29): Jessica Luther joins to describe her time covering the elite Girls Travel Baseball team, why girls are dissuaded from playing baseball in high school, and what can be done to increase female participation in the sport.

Death of the High-Top (15:53): Esquire contributor Dan Nosowitz assesses Kobe Bryant’s role in the decline of high-top basketball shoes, whether the ankle support actually works, and how sneaker-makers are finding more ways to sell shoes.

Scrabble (29:38): An interview with Will Anderson, 2017 the North American Scrabble champion, with analysis of his victory, the debate over Boggle versus Scrabble, and some stump-the-champ anagramming.

Afterballs (50:57): 

The Kyrie Irving and the Chamber of Secrets Edition  

Josh Levin and ESPN’s Mina Kimes are joined by Slate’s Jim Newell to discuss Jordan Spieth’s British Open win. Josh and Mina also dissect Kyrie Irving’s trade drama, and Slate’s Ben Mathis-Lilley analyzes Hugh Freeze’s ousting as Ole Miss football coach.

Jordan Spieth (2:15):Jim Newell joins to talk about how Jordan Spieth avoided a Sunday collapse, how he compares to Tiger Woods, and whether Spieth is cool or dorky.

Kyrie Irving Trade Request (13:49): Josh and Mina examine the motivations behind the star point guard’s bid to leave Cleveland, where he could end up landing, and if this means the last of LeBron James’ prime years will be wasted.

Hugh Freeze (30:50) Slate’s Ben Mathis-Lilley delves into the scandal-filled backstory of the Ole Miss football coach’s ouster, which featured gas mask bongs, America’s public information laws, and a vengeful coach named Houston Nutt.

Pre-Twitter Viral Sports Stories (45:30): In lieu of afterballs, Josh, Mina, and Ben opine on what notable pre-social media sports story would have broken Twitter.

The Man Hit Ball Far Edition  

Wimbledon (2:15):Howard Bryant joins to assess Roger Federer’s routine victory, Venus Williams’ recent resurgence, and whether the next generation of tennis stars will ever step up to challenge the sport’s veterans.

Record-Setting Rookies (16:04): Sam Miller of ESPN discusses the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger and the New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge, and whether either of the two players can become the new face of baseball. (Sorry, Mike Trout.)

30 for 30 (29:03): Producer Rose Eveleth talks about the inaugural season of ESPN’s new podcast series, featuring episodes on an all-female Arctic expedition and a multi-million-dollar baccarat swindle.

Afterballs (46:47)

The Best Bad Guy You Can Be Edition  

Josh Levin and Ben Mathis-Lilley are joined by Daniel “Progressive Liberal” Harnsberger to chat about his wrestling persona. The Ringer’s Bryan Curtis also discusses Jamie Horowitz and Fox Sports, and Nick Greene analyzes NBA free agency.

The Progressive Liberal (1:27): Professional wrestler Daniel Harnsberger joins to describe the inspiration behind his character, whether he’s critiquing the Democratic Party, and what it’s like to be the bad guy in wrestling.

Jamie Horowitz (19:01): Bryan Curtis, editor-at-large of the Ringer, comes on the show to assess what the sacking of Fox Sports 1’s Jamie Horowitz means for the channel and FS1’s lineup of debate-based programming.

NBA (35:04): Nick Greene joins to discusses Kevin Durant’s massive pay cut, and whether anything can be done about the massive exodus of talent from the East to the West.

Afterballs (54:04)

The Kaepernick of the Hardwood Edition  

Stefan Fatsis and Josh Levin are joined by former NBA player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf to discuss his return to basketball in the BigIG3, his protest of the national anthem, and how Tourette's Syndrome affected his career. Golden State Warriors President Rick Welts also comes on the show to discuss being openly gay in the NBA and how the franchise is grappling with its status as the league’s supervillain. Finally, Slate’s Henry Grabar explains what makes Miami’s new, David Beckham–-backed stadium deal so great and why Las Vegas’ plans for a new NFL stadium will hurt the city and its taxpayers.

More information at
Sign up for Slate Plus at

The Warriors Derangement Syndrome Edition  

Stefan Fatsis and Josh Levin are joined by Joel Anderson of BuzzFeed to discuss the NBA draft. Graphic designer Todd Radom also joins to debate the merits of updating the NBA logo. Finally, they chat about the perils of playing sports while old.

NBA Draft (2:00): Assessing the latest news on the pro basketball transaction wire, including the implications of the blockbuster Jimmy Butler trade, whether it’s time for the Celtics to go all-in, and whether the 76ers’ rebuilding process has finally paid off.

NBA Logo (18:43): Todd Radom comes on the show to assess whether it’s time to modernize the league’s Jerry West-inspired design or if the logo is too iconic to tinker with.

Playing Sports While Old (33:41): A bunch of players got hurt during the debut of the BIG3 three-on-three league. Is it too sad to watch old people play basketball?

Afterballs (43:12):

The When an Apple Fights an Orange Edition  

Stefan Fatsis and Josh Levin are joined by Kevin Draper to discuss the upcoming Mayweather-McGregor mega-fight. Ben Lindbergh also joins to discuss whether major-league baseballs are juiced. Finally, David Gessner talks about his memoir Ultimate Glory.

Mayweather-McGregor (1:28): A conversation with the New York Times’  Kevin Draper about the logistics of the upcoming match-up between boxer Floyd Mayweather and mixed martial artist Conor McGregor, and whether McGregor has any chance of pulling off an unlikely upset.

Juiced balls (13:37): Ben Lindbergh of the Ringer comes on the show to explore the various theories behind why baseball players are hitting more home runs than ever before.

Ultimate Frisbee (30:01): David Gessner discusses his memoir Ultimate Glory: Frisbee, Obsession, and My Wild Youth. Was it a mistake for Gessner to spend the best years of his life chasing a flying disc?

Afterballs (42:21)

The Kevin Durant Is a Poncho Edition  

Stefan Fatsis and Josh Levin are joined by Kevin Arnovitz to discuss the NBA Finals. George Dohrmann also joins to talk about U.S. soccer phenom Christian Pulisic. Plus, an interview with Ice Cube about the documentary Celtics/Lakers: Best of Enemies. NBA Finals (1:35): A conversation with Kevin Arnovitz about the Golden State Warriors’ 3-1 lead and whether the Cavaliers have any chance of a comeback. Christian Pulisic (17:30): George Dohrmann joins to discuss his story on how Christian Pulisic came to be a star, and whether U.S. soccer will learn the right lessons from his development. Ice Cube (33:59): The narrator of the ESPN 30-for-30 documentary Celtics/Lakers: Best of Enemies explains his affection for his hometown team and how race played a role in the Boston/L.A. rivalry. He also talks about 3-on-3 basketball becoming an Olympic sport. Afterballs (50:48)

The  Mr. Met Has No Middle Finger Edition  

Stefan Fatsis and Josh Levin are joined by Marcus Thompson to discuss the NBA Finals. Bruce Arthur also joins for a conversation about the Stanley Cup Final, and Sadie Stein comes on the show to talk about Mr. Met.
NBA Finals (1:10): A conversation with Marcus Thompson about the Golden State Warriors' dominance thus far, how the Cleveland Cavaliers might turn the series around, and Kevin Durant's relationship (or lack thereof) with Rihanna.

Stanley Cup Final (17:15): Bruce Arthur examines the series between the Nashville Predators and Pittsburgh Penguins, assesses Sidney Crosby's performance, and looks at why the NHL won't be sending players to the 2018 Olympics.
Mr. Met (33:57): Sadie Stein explains her ardor for the New York Mets' baseball-headed mascot and examines why he snapped at a bunch of unruly fans.

Afterballs (45:50)

The Not a Victory Cigar Edition  

Stefan Fatsis and Josh Levin are joined by Ethan Sherwood Strauss to preview the NBA Finals. They also talk with Charles P. Pierce about the legacy of writer Frank Deford, and Daniel Engber joins for a conversation about our favorite non-famous athletes.

NBA Finals (1:54): A conversation with Ethan Strauss about what to look out for in the third consecutive finals matchup between the Warriors and Cavs. What will Golden State do in crunch time? Will Draymond Green kick anyone?

Frank Deford (21:25): Charles P. Pierce, who worked with Deford at Sports Illustrated and The National, talks about what made him a great writer and reminisces about his favorite Deford stories.

Non-famous athletes (40:10): Daniel Engber discusses his obsession with Mets utility player Keith Miller, and we talk about our listeners’ favorite non-superstars.

Afterballs (56:50)

More information at

The His Airness Plays Ping-Pong Edition  

Stefan Fatsis and Josh Levin and guest Jane Coaston talk about the NBA playoffs. Sean Singer also joins to discuss Enes Kanter and Turkish politics, and economist Andy Schwarz comes on the show to announce his plan to kill the NCAA’s amateur model.

NBA playoffs (2:42): A conversation about the inevitability of a third straight Cavs-Warriors finals, and whether anticipation for that series has killed the rest of the postseason.

Enes Kanter (15:50): Former Turkish Basketball Federation official Sean Singer explains how Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Enes Kanter became a political activist, and how his conflict with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is perceived in Turkey.

A plan to kill the NCAA (30:50): Andy Schwarz rolls out the HBCU League, which would pay college players and prepare them for the NBA.

Afterballs (49:22) 

The More Reckless Than Malicious Edition  

Bryan Curtis and Stefan Fatsis talk with Michael Lee about John Wall and the NBA playoffs. Former NFL player Stephen White joins to discuss why quarterback Colin Kaepernick remains unemployed. Bryan and Stefan discuss the NFL broadcasting prospects of retired quarterbacks Tony Romo and Jay Cutler. And Scott Price joins to discuss his recent articles about the declining health of NFL legends Nick Buoniconti and Jim Kiick.

NBA playoffs (2:00): We talk with Michael Lee about the rise of John Wall, the Washington Wizards point guard, and the first game of the Western Conference playoffs between the Golden State Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs. 

Colin Kaepernick (12:28): Former NFL defensive lineman Stephen White breaks down the tape and argues that Kaepernick has not found a job because of his decision last year to kneel during the national anthem.

NFL announcers (22:35): Bryan and Stefan discuss the quick hires of just-retired quarterbacks Tony Romo by CBS Sports and Jay Cutler by Fox Sports, and what makes a good ex-jock television broadcaster.

Miami Dolphins (37:13): Scott Price joins the show to discuss his recent Sports Illustrated stories about the dementia taking over the lives of Nick Buoniconti and Jim Kiick, two stars of the unbeaten 1972 Miami Dolphins football team.

The Big Baller Dad Edition  

Stefan Fatsis and Josh Levin talk with ESPN’s Howard Bryant about racism in Boston sports. Damon Young also joins to discuss LaVar Ball and the “black basketball dad,” and David Epstein analyzes Nike’s effort to engineer a sub-two-hour marathon.

Racism in Boston sports (??): A conversation with Howard Bryant, the author of Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston, about the recent racist heckling at Fenway Park and the history of racism in the city and on its sports teams.

LaVar Ball (??): Damon Young of Very Smart Brothas discusses his conflicted feelings about Lonzo Ball’s father and the specific role black parents play in their kids’ athletic development.

Nike’s marathon gambit (??): Assessing Eliud Kipchoge’s 2:00:25 marathon, Nike’s marketing of its Breaking2 event, and whether we’ll see more attempts to break the two-hour barrier.

The Sun Also Rises on Waiters Island Edition  

Stefan Fatsis, Josh Levin, and guest Wosny Lambre talk about the layoffs at ESPN. They also discuss how NFL teams evaluate draftees with "red flags" and review Dion Waiters’ genius essay for the Players’ Tribune.

ESPN layoffs (2:31): What do the massive cuts at the Worldwide Leader say about the network’s new business model and the state of sports journalism?

NFL draft (16:30): This year’s draft class had a host of players, among them Joe Mixon and Gareon Conley, with so-called “character issues.” How should teams look at prospects who've been convicted of or accused of heinous crimes?

Dion Waiters (29:25): Why the Miami Heat shooting guard's essay “The NBA is Lucky I’m Home Doing Damn Articles” is such an effective piece of writing.

The Take That for Data Edition  

Stefan Fatsis and Greg Howard talk with Kevin Arnovitz about the NBA playoffs. Alex Hutchinson joins to analyze an upcoming attempt to break the two-hour marathon. And Stefan interviews John Kelly, the lone finisher of this year’s Barkley Marathons.
NBA playoffs (1:48): We talk with Kevin Arnovitz about the media coverage surrounding the death of Isaiah Thomas’s sister; Kawhi Leonard and Mike Conley’s duel in Game 4 of the Spurs-Grizzlies series; and Russell Westbrook’s media antagonism.
The Two-Hour Marathon (20:59): Alex Hutchinson discusses Nike’s planned attempt next month to break the two-hour marathon, and the ethical, physical, and technological issues surrounding the effort.
Barkley Marathons follow-up (32:29): John Kelly, the lone finisher of this year’s Barkley Marathons, objected to Stefan’s critique of the race on last week’s show. Kelly joins to talk about why he runs the Barkley and its many challenges.

The Optimal Draymond Edition  

Stefan Fatsis is joined by Shea Serrano and Marcus Thompson to talk about the NBA playoffs. Stefan and Josh Levin also interview Nick Elam about how to fix basketball’s end game. Finally, Stefan and Christina Cauterucci talk with Becca Roux about the new labor deal in women’s soccer. 

NBA Playoffs (2:20): Breaking down the best matchups of the first weekend, evaluating the Cleveland Cavaliers’ title hopes, and celebrating the rise of Giannis Antetokounmpo. 

Fixing NBA Endgame (17:06): Nick Elam joins to explain his radical proposal to fix basketball’s crunch time and talk about the plan’s likelihood of being implemented in the NBA. 

Women’s Soccer (37:04): Becca Roux, the interim executive director of the USWNT’s Players’ Association, discusses the team’s new collective bargaining agreement and the ongoing battle for equitable treatment in women’s sports.

Barkley Marathons (55:02): In his Afterball, Stefan examines the heartbreaking ending of the Barkley Marathons in the mountains of Tennessee and whether the race might be too cruel.

Hang Up Extra: I Have to Ask with Isaac Chotiner  

Ethan Sherwood Strauss has been covering the Golden State Warriors for

several years for ESPN, during which time the team became the most

popular and successful in the NBA. On the eve of the NBA Playoffs, he sat down

with Isaac Chotiner to discuss life on the NBA beat, the strange life of Steph

Curry, and fans who want ESPN personalities to “stick to sports” in the age of Donald


And please take our brief survey: 

The No Rest for the Winners Edition  

Stefan Fatsis and Josh Levin talk to Jim Newell about the Masters; Tom Haberstroh about Russell Westbrook and resting NBA players; Meg Rowley about baseball’s return; and Jonathan Hock about One and Not Done, his ESPN documentary on John Calipari.

The Masters (2:20): Breaking down a thrilling finish, Sergio Garcia’s long-awaited major championship, and Jim Nantz’s odd announcing tendencies.

The NBA (16:00): Discussing the Oklahoma City Thunder point guard's latest triple-double feats and the conundrum of star players sitting out regular-season games.

Baseball (33:45): Baseball is back! Does it matter? Delving into the sport’s entertainment value and lack of big-name stars.

One and Not Done (48:34): Talking with Jonathan Hock about his new 30 for 30 documentary on John Calipari and how to assess the Kentucky’s coach’s legacy as it is still unfolding.

Video player is in betaClose