Jesse Goldberg-Strassler and Kevin Reichard discuss the most wonderful time of the year—the 16-team playoff season!—as well as changes to the minor leagues, how pro ball will approach 2021, and different terms for the act of fielding, including battling and vacuuming up the ball, on this week’s Ballpark Digest Broadcaster Chat.
In this week’s chat:
- Jesse and Kevin begin with an overview of the 16-game playoffs, with four games today and eight tomorrow—an abundance of riches!
- Will seeding make a difference? Maybe not this year, says Jesse; there are favorites, but with no fans in the stands and neutral sites after the first round, the notion of a home-field advantage may not be relevant.
- How do you scout a series like Toronto at Tampa Bay? The Blue Jays are young, while the Rays have playoff experience. Toronto is a team built for turf, but made the playoffs playing at a grass field. But the Blue Jays have only posted six wins in their last 18 games at Tropicana Field.
- Kevin and Jesse discuss all eight playoff series. In the end, Kevin picks the Dodgers over the Rays in the World Series, but watch for some upsets in prior rounds. In general, both Kevin and Jesse pick teams with plenty of veterans to prevail in such an odd season, but many of the stars in San Diego and Toronto came through the Midwest League, so Jesse knows them very well. Will Gerrit Cole be worth the big bucks? Will some little-known veteran from the Cardinals carry the day? And what bullpen come through in the clutch?
- In the National League, many series feature veteran teams versus young upstarts. Can San Diego keep the momentum going in the playoffs? Can the Cincinnati Reds pitching staff continue to shine? Will veterans carry the day, or will a young unknown shine? Both Kevin and Jesse were impressed the Marlins made the playoffs and that they will be a team to watch in the future—but will likely lose to the Cubs in the first round this year. The Cubs had a good year despite Javy Baez and Kris Bryant having subpar years.
- Some great stories in the playoffs when it comes to managers: a Charlie Montoyo team going from 95 losses in 2019 to the playoffs in 2020; unknowns Rocco Baldelli, Jayce Tingler and Kevin Cash leading their teams to the playoffs; and veteran Don Mattingly returning to the playoffs.
- Should there be an asterisk next to this year’s World Series winner? No: this has been a season of adversity, and that applies to players working through the most unusual MLB season ever.
- The big issue in Minor League Baseball: with discussions ongoing with MLB over the future structure of the game, teams are still on hold. Even if a team is returning in 2021—like the Buffalo Bisons—they can’t plan for the season yet or launch a sales effort without a season schedule or a league lineup. Interestingly, MLB teams can’t make too many plans yet, either, without knowing how many fans will be in the stands and under what circumstances. Despite what we all want, COVID-19 is not going away any time soon.
- Jesse and Kevin discuss the designation of three independent leagues as MLB Partner Leagues and what it really means. So much for indy ball as a renegade effort.
- The Rookie Appalachian League transitions to a summer-collegiate league in conjunction with USA Baseball.
- The Baseball Thesaurus term of the day: error. Jesse loves when a player fights the ball, punching at the ball before it arrives. The opposite is when a player smoothly picks up the ball: vacuuming The discussion moves to the origins of English as movement on the ball. Turns out it can be traced back to the game of snooker and the act of putting spin on a shot.
Jesse Goldberg-Strassler is the Voice of the Lansing Lugnuts and the author of The Baseball Thesaurus and The Football Thesaurus from August Publications. Mick Gillispie is the Voice of the Tennessee Smokies and a spring-training Voice of the Chicago Cubs. Kevin Reichard is publisher at August Publications and Ballpark Digest.