Jesse Goldberg-Strassler, Mick Gillispie and Kevin Reichard discuss the remaining games in the 2020 World Series, answer trivia questions, and discuss how technology is rapidly changing baseball, on this week’s Ballpark Digest Broadcaster Chat.
In this week’s chat:
- Why a future hurricane should be named Hurricane Mick.
- Trivia question #1: There have been only one American League player and one National League player to win the World Series as well as MVP, Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards in the same season. The answers won’t surprise you, but they do require some hints.
- Trivia question #2: Hall of Famers George Brett, Tony Lazzeri, Rod Carew, Frank Chance, Eddie Murray, and Al Lopez are the only Hall of Famers to win a baseball game by doing this.
- The answer to #2, of course, is that all six stole home to win a game. (In the case of Murray, it was at the tail end of a double steal, with Doug DeCinces attracting the attention of pitcher Guy Hoffman with a steal of second, allowing Murray to steal home standing up.) That provides a natural segueway to a discussion of the World Series and why Manny Margot made the right decision to attempt a steal of home, only to be gunned down with a perfect throw from Clayton Kershaw.
- Kevin pulls for the Rays; Mick thinks the Dodgers will win. All three agree that it’s been a most entertaining World Series.
- Jesse points out that the Rays seem to be willing to concede losses based on the relievers entering the game. Bullpen A is ready for action tonight; Bullpen B has been eating up innings in losses. All seemed to enjoy Game Four.
- Both teams are relying on bullpens to carry the day, however, and both have the same philosophy when it comes to developing bullpen arms: flamethrowers who overwhelm batters. They come at a contract to Kershaw, who has turned into more of a pitcher than a thrower.
- Speaking of Kershaw: He’s had a fabulous World Series, and the fans are cheering for him. That reminds Jesse of other pro athletes who were great but took years to win the biggest honor—like Phil Mickelson finally winning the Masters Tournament after years of futility.
- With the 2020 season almost in the books, the three discuss how the game is changing and how technology is forcing those changes. Umps have less discretion on their definition of a strike zone, Jesse notes, while Mick points out the four-seam pitchers are getting away with high fast balls thanks to new approaches taken by batters who are cognizant of swing angles. That leads to a discussion of spin rates and how analytics, as applied now to minor leaguers, are indeed changing how players approach the game.
- What 2020 rule changes made sense? Mick hates seven-inning doubleheaders, new extra-inning rules and the universal DH. Kevin likes the new extra-inning rules and the universal DH. Mick points out the many bad trends in the game promulgated by analytics, including shifts and bullpen games. And no one wants to see larger bases or changes to the pitching mound.
- One important impact of the 2020 season will be how it affects 2021. Traditionally, the Dodgers, Giants, Yankees and Cubs are the best road draws, but with new talent emerging in 2020, will that newfound fame affect road attendance? The three will discuss the issue come mid-2021 to see if this year’s successes carried over to road draws. (Interestingly, the San Diego Padres were a strong road draw in 2019—we will see if that number goes up in 2021.)
- Tying back to the earlier trivia questions: The Baseball Thesaurus terms of the day: Little League stolen base and Little League home run. A Little League stolen base is on the back end of a double steal—as was the case with Eddie Murray, mentioned earlier—and a Little League home run features plenty of errors and misplays, and the runner always appears winded when arriving at the plate.
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.