BRADENTON, Fla. — Trevor Williams and Steven Brault are two of the more unique personalities you'll find in the Pirates' clubhouse, or any clubhouse. The gregarious starting pitchers, both 25, have shown fans a glimpse of that on social media, too.
Williams uses Twitter to post goofy memes and random observations, such as his take on how to pronounce 'gyro.' Brault takes a similar approach — he once used it to call out someone ordering a margarita at a sushi restaurant.
It makes for great theater, so imagine the two sitting down to talk about why it’s OK that Mark Hamill was a terrible actor in Star Wars or their thoughts on the best fast food restaurant. Those sort of random takes and debates are the foundation of their podcast, IMHO — or, in internet parlance, 'In My Humble Opinion.'
They've posted only two episodes so far, but it's been an instant hit. They appeared on MLB Network on Wednesday to talk about the offseason creation and yes, the podcast will continue when the Pirates' season begins March 29.
“The reviews are ridiculous but they’re pretty funny,” Williams said Wednesday morning at Pirate City. “We enjoy it. Hopefully it takes off, we keep it up. We’ll run out of things to rank but we’ll re-rank. There’s always something someone is passionate about that we can debate for 40 minutes.”
The idea was born last month when the two attended PiratesFest at PNC Park. They decided to film a Facebook Live video, in which Williams would try to come up with an idea for a meme based on random photos of Pirates players, and Brault would rate each selection.
It had 27,000 views and nearly 400 comments. The two have a certain chemistry between them. After all, they’ve become close friends since they met during the Arizona Fall League in 2015.
They had no idea they both grew up in the San Diego area — their respective high schools were only 24 miles apart — or that they had so much in common. Eventually, they became offseason throwing partners and then roommates on the road.
Like any teammates or friends, they often debate about random topics, especially on the road during the season. Those sorts of conversations fill the hours between they wake up and when they head to the ballpark, as well as any downtime in the clubhouse.
So, once the Facebook Live was well-received, they thought they may as well put those conversations in podcast form. That’s how IMHO was born.
“What people don’t realize is just because we play baseball doesn’t mean our waking lives are consumed with thoughts of baseball,” Brault said. "We wake up at 8 a.m., and we’re not at the field until, we’ll say 1. For that time we’re eating breakfast and hanging out. Working on podcasts and stuff is a hobby.”
The first episode was each pitcher’s rankings of the Star Wars movies, and yes, they disagreed quite a bit. They had Chad Kuhl on as a special guest for the second installment, which was a ranking of top fast food restaurants:
— IMHO Podcast (@PodcastIMHO) January 8, 2018
Future episodes will be similar ranking-based recordings, but they also plan to use the platform as a way to tell minor-league horror stories and show listeners what they talk about in the clubhouse, bullpen and dugout.
More Pirates players will come on as special guests, and they even recorded three episodes during the club’s voluntary minicamp this week in Bradenton. It's not a hobby to break up the monotony of a long baseball season, either.
"I don’t really feel that way about the season," Brault said. "I know other people do, but I really don't care. It’s nice, but the monotony is the hours where you’re not doing anything. When you’re sitting in a hotel for five hours in the morning I would much rather be doing something. It’s a cool thing we’ll spend our time doing."
Oh, they know that criticism will follow. That's inevitable when you're a professional athlete anyways, and Williams and Brault are both candidates for the Pirates' starting rotation in 2018.
Williams started 25 games for the club in 2017, posting a 4.07 ERA and 1.31 WHIP in 150 1/3 innings. Brault was the Pirates' minor-league pitcher of the year, leading the International League in ERA and he pitched 34 2/3 innings in the major leagues.
For as popular as their podcast is, they anticipate negativity to come as soon as either one has a difficult outing.
"Someone will say at some point in the season that when one of us has one bad outing that maybe we should focus on baseball instead of the podcast," Brault. "Oh, we know it's coming. The internet is a funny place."
Both men have inadvertently made it funnier both on social media and with this latest creation. Brault is currently the producer — he apologizes to all listeners for learning on the job — and they're trying to stockpile content to post when the season begins.
"It’s not for everyone," Williams said. "Not everyone loves it. Not everyone likes to talk in front of a microphone. I enjoy listening to podcasts. I think funny podcasts are a great way to pass the time because you can only listen to music so long on your morning commute."