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Ballpark Digest Broadcaster Chat, 2022 Rule Changes Edition

Mick GillispieJesse Goldberg-Strassler and Kevin Reichard discuss the beginning of the 2022 season and analyze rule changes / trends on and off the field in the Ballpark Digest Broadcaster Chat

Topics discussed in this podcast:

  • We begin a discussion in a totally irrelevant fashion discussing ponies as an endangered species. A pony, of course, is a seven-ounce beer; only a few breweries still produce them in Wisconsin (Miller and Rheinlander).
  • With the end of May approaching, we’re finally in the full swing of the 2022 MiLB season. Jesse and Mick are back in rhythm on their daily broadcast schedules and adjusted totally to the six-day MiLB Tuesday-Sunday series work week.
  • The six-day MiLB series schedule does present some challenges in terms of starting pitching: do starters go twice a series or do we see spot starters at some point? The Smokies are off to a good start, and Mick says one of the reasons is the high level of performance from the starting pitching. Those pitchers are benefiting from a good defense behind them. 
  • Unlike others in the industry, Mick and Jesse don’t hate the pitch clock. But they agree it goes too fast: giving players a few extra seconds would be a good idea, and as a broadcaster adding a few more seconds to tell stories would improve broadcasts. This leads to reminiscences of Jim Tocco, former Voice of the Montgomery Biscuits, and how he would react to the new pitch clock. This surprisingly transitions into a discussion of Moustache May in MiLB and popular games in clubhouses.
  • Also discussed: other rule changes in the minors, including larger bases. The larger bases don’t seem to be a factor at all—after a few innings, no one notices—and overall a quicker pace of play seems to be working. Similarly, a ban on shifts doesn’t seem to be impacting play.
  • Another change, though not a rule change: it seems like balls in the minors this year are juiced—or at least a few of the three balls used—while balls in the majors are widely assumed to be dead. On the MLB side, there’s the continuous discussion of whether juiced balls are used on national broadcasts, vs. a dead ball for “everyday” use. In the end, it could be an unintended side effect of changes in the cork and seams, along with humidor usage, strongly changing the game this season.
  • The next battle: the fight for a uniform strike zone, with the feeling ABS systems and in-game challenges are inevitable. Robo-umps recently made its debut in Triple-A baseball, as testing moves up the MiLB ladder.
  • The industry is still working its way back to normal—i.e., a 2019 level of performance—due to supply-chain issues—and facilities standards still persist as a big problem for team owners. For the Tennessee Smokies, meeting the facility standards won’t be an issue, as the team is moving to a new ballpark in 2024.
  • Is a combined no-hitter really a no-hitter? Mick says no, even after calling a combined no-hitter.
  • The broadcaster lingo of the week: ultimate grand slam, which wins a game when a team wins by three runs after a grand slam; and walkoff walk is shrimp. Why shrimp? On the Internet a reference to a walkoff walk would be accompanied by a meme of a shrimp walking on a treadmill. Mick’s terms: a cocktail pitch, a high 3-2 pitch, and scratch gravel, where a fielder goes as low as possible to make the catch.

Mick Gillispie is Voice of the Tennessee Smokies and a spring-training Voice of the Chicago Cubs, while often appearing on Marquee Network broadcasts and podcasts throughout the season. Jesse Goldberg-Strassler is Voice of the Lansing Lugnuts and author of The Baseball Thesaurus and the second edition of The Football Thesaurus, both from August PublicationsKevin Reichard is editor of Ballpark Digest and founder/publisher at August Publications.

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