Jesse Goldberg-Strassler, Mick Gillispie and Kevin Reichard discuss the history being made in the 2020 World Series, what makes a great trivia question, the move of the St. Louis Browns to Baltimore, and how workhorses apply in both baseball and football, on this week’s Ballpark Digest Broadcaster Chat.
In this week’s chat:
- The World Series begins tonight, with the Tampa Bay Rays taking on the Los Angeles Dodgers. This World Series will make history, as it’s the first to be played totally at a neutral site.
- Despite the loss to the Dodgers in the NL Championship Series, the Atlanta Braves will be notable for years to come thanks to a young roster. MLB needs to promote these youngsters, as plenty of notable players like Fernando Tatis Jr. are making their mark on the game.
- How did the Dodgers come back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Braves? A deep pitching staff, plus some key hits off a good Braves bullpen. How did the Rays reach the World Series? Pitching. Both teams have an old-time feel to them: scratch out a slim lead and then assume your relievers will be better than the other relievers, Jesse says. The better-performing bullpen will pull out a Series win, he adds.
- The other factor to watch: defense. Mookie Betts helped the Dodgers in the Braves series not with his bat, Mick points out, but rather with his glove. Mick doesn’t think the Rays will win more than one game against the Dodgers in the World Series.
- Back to World Series history: this is only the fourth World Series where all games are played at the same ballpark, as Globe Life Field joins Sportsman’s Park (1944) and the Polo Grounds (1921 and 1922) as the only venues to host every game of a World Series. The prior instances came when two teams shared a ballpark; in the case of the 1944 St. Louis Browns, it ended up being their only World Series appearance before the team moved to Baltimore. Ironically, the appearance of the Brownies in the 1944 World Series was the beginning of the end for the team, afterwards undergoing two sales and the recognition from final owner Bill Veeck that he couldn’t complete with the Anheuser-Busch marketing machine once Gussie Busch bought the Cardinals. Before that, the Browns tended to be a better box-office draw than the Cardinals.
- The 1944 World Series was notable for another reason, Jesse says: it was a terribly played World Series, as wartime drew notable players into military action.
- Mick discusses the move of the Browns to Baltimore and how the “new” Orioles created such excitement. In Baltimore, the Orioles shrugged off the losing ways of the Browns to become an annual World Series contender for decades; meanwhile, we look at the winning Dodgers of today and forget that the Brooklyn Dodgers were perpetual losers during their first 40 years.
- With another appearance in the World Series, the Rays are shaking a legacy of sad sacks and establishing a reputation as winners. Mick points out the Rays are at a critical time in their franchise history: unless the team can draw, he doesn’t expect it to stay in Tampa in the long term. With better markets out there, he warns the team could move. Kevin is less convinced: Tampa moving to the likes of a Nashville takes expansion fees away from other MLB teams—and those MLB teams could sure use their share of expansion fees. Plus, it’s not clear that Tampa is a bad market: look at the financial success of the Tampa Bay Lightning—the Stanley Cup champs—and there’s a model for the Rays to proceed.
- Jesse points out that the centers of the sports world are Tampa Bay and Los Angeles, between the success of the Lightning, the Lakers, the Rams and the Buccaneers.
- Speaking of expansion: don’t look for it any time soon, as baseball struggles to plan for the impact of COVID-19 in 2021, much less plan for an expanded future.
- The panel is momentarily stumped by the six teams never winning a World Series. For the record: Seattle, Colorado, Milwaukee, Texas, Tampa Bay and San Diego.
- The Baseball Thesaurus and Football Thesaurus terms of the day for equipment of the game: a workhorse. In baseball, a workhorse takes the ball every fourth day and goes the distance. In football, a workhorse is a running back who wears you down during the course of a game.
- The panel returns to the issue of the six teams never winning the World Series in the context of trivia, moving on to what makes for a good trivia question. That leads to a play for readers to send in their best baseball trivia questions; feel free to drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org! If we use your trivia question on an upcoming podcast, we’ll reward you with a free copy of The Baseball Thesaurus.
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.