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David Brown 

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The Astros manager and former major leaguer talks white balance, belt loops, brains, coffee, psychology, career tracks, showing up Kevin Mitchell, and draft negotiations.

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Hicks struggled over four seasons with the Twins and Yankees, but he's one of the best hitters in the majors so far in 2017.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Aaron Hicks leaned forward at his locker and asked teammate Didi Gregorius about his tweeting. He wanted to know about the 140-characters-or-less game summaries Gregorius has been posting on Twitter after Yankees victories. Instead of using Hicks’ name, Gregorius has been using a certain emoji.

“Hey, Didi,” Hicks said. “Who am I supposed to be?”

Gregorius, sitting nearby at a card table, laughed and put a look of pretend surprise on his face.

“Who are you supposed to be?” Gregorius asked, still pretending. “I mean, you’re Aaron Hicks!”

Hicks wasn’t letting him off the hook: “What’s my emoji?”

Gregorius caved: “The old man!”

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The young Yankees slugger talks numbers, the law, being big and tall, the Negro Leagues, and adoption.

Before he started mashing taters at a record pace this season, young slugger Aaron Judge came to the Yankees in 2016 with traits that already were iconic. In addition to his pedigree as a prospect, Judge’s 6-foot-7, 282-pound frame makes him the largest player, by mass, in Major League Baseball history. He also wears uniform no. 99, in part because finding a number that the Yankees haven’t retired, are about to retire, or already weren’t using is tough. That means nixing no. 44 (Reggie Jackson), no. 7 (Mickey Mantle), or even no. 35 (Michael Pineda).

Pausing from game prep recently, Judge took a few moments with David Brown to talk about the numbers game, what it’s like living in Times Square, and being big in the Big Apple.

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Kendall from Alex City had better baseball connections when he was a kid than he realized, and lessons learned half a lifetime ago are fueling his success for the A's.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kendall Graveman struggled at first to remember the name of the man who taught him the grip for his best pitch, a sinking fastball. It’s kind of a funny story, learning to grip what has become one of the most effective pitches in the majors, from a man who today coaches the hitters for a junior-college softball team, who also in part learned about the importance of finger strength from conversations with a national-champion arm wrestler. It all sounds so over the top, but it's true: You just never know how wisdom will get passed along between generations.

About the coach’s name. After being given a moment to think, does Graveman remember?

“I do ...” Graveman said, his face grimacing as the mental wheels turned. “I don’t. It was at Central Alabama Community College. Heck, he may still be there. It’s a junior college in my hometown.

“We didn’t have a lot of connections in Alexander City.”

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Projections? Where we're going, we don't need projections.

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Moneyball the movie looked great--until Oakland's horrific play ruined it.

Believe it or not, most of our writers didn't enter the world sporting an @baseballprospectus.com address; with a few exceptions, they started out somewhere else. In an effort to up your reading pleasure while tipping our caps to some of the most illuminating work being done elsewhere on the internet, we'll be yielding the stage once a week to the best and brightest baseball writers, researchers, and thinkers from outside of the BP umbrella. If you'd like to nominate a guest contributor (including yourself), please drop us a line.

David Brown has been a contributing contributor to Big League Stew, Yahoo! Sports' Major League Baseball blog, since 2008. His first book, "The Beatles Go To Mars," won first place at the School District 59 Young Authors contest in 1979. Dave lives in Chicago with his wife, Tarah, and dog, Bevo. Interact with him on Twitter—@AnswerDave.

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