Transcript: ESPN Sunday Night Baseball Broadcast Team Media Conference Call


Transcript: ESPN Sunday Night Baseball Broadcast Team Media Conference Call

ESPN today hosted a media conference call with its Sunday Night Baseball broadcast team, including play-by-play commentator Karl Ravech, analyst and five-time World Series Champion David Cone and analyst Eduardo Pérez to preview the 2024 Major League Baseball season.

The booth of RavechPérezCone along with reporter Buster Olney, will call the exclusive national presentation of MLB Opening Night as the Texas Rangers begin their World Series Championship defense against the Chicago Cubs on March 28, at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.

The first Sunday Night Baseball game of the season, on March 31, at 7 p.m. ET, will feature Shohei Ohtani and the Los Angeles Dodgers as they host the St. Louis Cardinals. For the updated ESPN MLB schedule, visit ESPN Press Room.

Q: From the Boston perspective, what have people told you about the Red Sox approach to this season and the Sox season, and are you surprised by the way they’ve put a team together?

KARL RAVECH: Well, I’ll jump in. As a Needham, Mass kid growing up and knowing how impactful ’04 was and given the success of the Celtics and Bruins and of course the Patriots, the Red Sox have had an opportunity to stay relevant relative to those other teams, and for some reason here, this season in particular, they have chosen to stand pat while other teams in the division seemingly have moved past them and the Yankees with what they’ve done and the success that the Orioles and their youth.

It would tax me to remember a season, and I am 59 now, going into it where the level of optimism was so low regarding their chances.

On the other side of that, to his great credit, Alex Cora and the players inside that clubhouse will take the — well, you’ll see. Let us play it out and see where it goes. But it’s been a very, very interesting play given they brought Craig Breslow in there, and you figure every time there’s a change like that, the purse strings will be let out a little bit. That seems to not have happened.

It’s a hard one to look at and think that they’re going to finish better than last place. That’s an odd way to go into a summer in New England. I can tell you that. And you know that.

EDUARDO PÉREZ: I’ll jump in. The one thing about the Red Sox is we’re not used to seeing such a young team on the field. Trevor Story is our oldest position player out there right now at 31 years of age. Everyone else just seems to be 28 or younger.

Rafaela is going to be an interesting young player to watch. I think you look at Tristan Casas with the second half of the season that he had last year. I expect him to continue to grow from that and to be that type of impact player at first base.

But it’s going to come down to their defense. You look at their infield, will Devers be able to continue to play at a high level. We know that he can do it offensively. He needs to make those routine plays at third, and then that way you have Story and Devers on that left side of the infield.

But it’s just a younger team. Even when it comes to the pitching, it’s younger, as well.

Only two guys on the roster 31 years of age or older. I think that’s going to play. But at the same time, it could be a long season for Boston considering that division, the way it’s set up.

But I don’t put anything past Alex Cora. I don’t. Last year I thought it was one of his best years of managing, and look where they finished. It didn’t really impact their standings, yet I thought he managed last year as well as anyone could have managed a team like that in a situation like that.

DAVID CONE: I’ll just piggyback on that. I completely agree with Eduardo. I think quietly the Red Sox under the radar have a good young nucleus brewing there. I think Vaughn Grissom is going to be a big deal for them, how he pans out in Boston to kind of fit into that young nucleus. Casas for real at first base, he’s going to continue to get better. I think he’s a monster. He’s had another good spring. I think he’s poised for a big year.

Obviously their outfield in Duran if he can take another big step, and as Eduardo said, Rafaela, what kind of talent he has, if he can take the next step.

But quietly they have a good position player nucleus. The pitching side, a little different. Bello is good. He was kind of anchor the rotation, and the extension they signed him to is a big deal, but losing Giolito was a huge blow for them. They need some veteran presence in that rotation and Giolito was a big blow.

Pitching is going to be tough for them this year, but on the position player side they have a good nucleus potentially brewing.

Q: Coney, this is a simple question, but I want — the great job you do on the show and everything, I want you to explain what’s going on with pitching. Is the system broken? You mentioned Giolito. We can go down the list. All the top money guys are going to be on the DL, IL, to start the season. Is it all weighted balls? Is it velocity? Is it the way they grip the ball now? Tell me what’s going on with pitching and will baseball survive with this situation?

DAVID CONE: Yeah, no, these are all valid points. I know you and I have talked about this in the past, as well. I believe it’s going to come full circle. I really do. I think the craftsmanship that we grew up watching is going to come back into play.

Certainly the chase for velocity has changed everything, the maximum effort type style that we see, the lack of a third time through the order, the lack of finesse from starting pitchers certainly is something that’s kind of going to come to roost, so to speak.

I think that the value of pitchers who can get through three times in an order, who can get deeper into the games, starting pitchers who can give you innings has such a residual effect on the entire roster, on the entire pitching staff, that if you don’t have those guys, you really are in trouble on the major league level.

In a long season you’re going to get worn down. Bullpens are going to get worn out. It’s hard just to trot a group of three-inning pitchers out there, and certainly that’s the theory. Make no bones about it. I had this talk with Gabe Kapler last year. I think Eduardo and Karl were there, too, and Gabe sort of admitted if they could reimagine the way we use pitching staffs, we’d have a collection of three-inning pitchers.

We would just have hard throwers, one time through the order, maximum effort, go as hard as you can long as you can, then we will get you out there and replace you with the next best guy.

That kind of strategy I think is — not only is it hard to sustain but it’s not entertaining. We’re in the entertainment business, and I think that’s the part where if you’re uber efficient on an analytics standpoint, sometimes that’s not the most entertaining way to go about it.

Fans like to know that there’s a battle for a starting pitcher to stay in that game and that can really be a storyline that’s good to follow. It always has been good to follow, and it’s kind of been lost.

I mean, long story short, I believe it’s coming full circle. I believe there’s a place in this game for veteran pitchers especially, for guys who can give you innings, for guys who understand their craft, for guys who develop a finesse, who can stop fastballs and change speeds. I still think there’s a place in the game for that. I think it’s going to come back around and get in vogue again.

Q: One quick follow-up, I’m concerned about the human carnage of the injuries and how the pitchers are looked upon as just assets or whatever. What about that from a guy who was there and you had your injury situations but you figured it out? Do they care about these pitchers?

DAVID CONE: The problem runs so deep that it’s on the amateur level now. In order to even get scouted or even get signed to maybe a college program, you’ve got to chase velocity. You’re not even going to get looked at or scouted unless you meet a certain threshold in terms of arm strength.

Yes, we’re understanding more about biomechanics, how the body moves. I think some of the analytics within the pitching realm are really good, the high speed cameras, studying the spin, how the ball spins, how the seams are oriented. I think there’s a lot of good stuff there that pitchers are learning a lot from and how to pitch design.

But certainly the chase for velocity has brought the pitchers right up to the edge of maximum effort, maximum limits, ultimate stress on your ligaments, more injuries. That’s just where we are nowadays. It’s hard to sort of unscale it, to go all the way back to a Little League level and say, hey, guys, it’s okay if you learn your craft. It’s okay if you have good control first and you hit your spots, because they’re being taught right now you’ve got to chase velocity.

You’ve got to light up the radar guns. We’ve got parents with radar guns in the stands in their iPhones. Hey, that was 89 miles an hour. Come on, you can do a little better. The emphasis on that certainly has led to more injuries.

Q: Just to remind people, too, you were not a max velocity guy, right?

DAVID CONE: No, especially not. I was in for the long haul. I was allowed to throw 120 or 130 pitches in a game. If I got to the 100 pitch mark, I knew I had more left in the tank, and that’s where the finesse comes in.

That’s where you learn your craft. When you do get a little bit fatigued, you back off a little bit and you learn how to finesse a little bit more. Now, those pitchers are not allowed to do that anymore. The minute you get to 100 pitches, it’s sort of like, we’ve got somebody else that’s ready to throw 98 miles an hour, we’re going to bring him in.

I get it. If I was managing the game and I got somebody down there throwing 98 miles an hour, I’d probably get him in the game, too.

Q: For the crew and also a specific one for Karl. From the outside it seems the Cubs think Craig Counsell will largely the same roster outside of Imanaga and Neris. What do you guys think about that? Karl, I know you worked with him yourself. Were you surprised by the move?

KARL RAVECH: Yeah, sure. I think I speak for most people when we would, and I certainly would say I was surprised. I thought that the team showed what you want a team to show under a manager, which is this willingness to fight, which is to sort of exceed some expectations, to get better as the season goes along, to have a clubhouse where the chemistry is terrific.

So I thought given the boxes that you generally would check, David was checking them all.

Where I and this group, before we came on to this call, we had our Thursday night and Sunday night call, and one of the questions that came up was how do you quantify the value of a manager.

Is there an advanced metric which allows you to say Craig Counsell is going to be worth X amount of victories relative to Dave Roberts or Dave Ross or Alex Cora. So that will be a conversation we have during the game.

Then subsequently the conversation was if you look at them while we were in Seoul. I think for most of us it became apparent, Dave Roberts is under an enormous amount of pressure given the amount of money that’s been spent on the Dodgers.

But you can look at it the other way and say the Cubs spent a ton of money on a manager. How much pressure is the manager under, and how do you judge whether he was a success or not other than wins and losses.

So yes, I was surprised, and I do think that we’ll have to see the value of Craig Counsell, largely considered the best manager in baseball. How does that manifest itself? How does he go about proving that?

That’s sort of the 30,000-foot view of the Cubs from my perspective and the decision they made with regards to getting rid of David and hiring Craig.

EDUARDO PÉREZ: They talk about what’s the hardest part about managing and what’s the key component, and it’s about dealing with the pitching. How do you deal with a bullpen? How do you deal with your starting pitching? How far do you go with them?

I think if the Cubs are going to be any different because as you mentioned earlier the roster is pretty much the same except for two guys in Harris and Imanaga is how is he going to manage his bullpen differently than David Ross did.

I think that’s where it’s going to come down to — you look at Craig during his tenure there. Yeah, he had three horses at the top of the rotation and two at the bottom of that rotation for most of his managerial career, but in Milwaukee, but while Justin Steele, Kyle Hendricks, and Jordan Wicks. Will those guys at the top of the rotation be as impactful, and how does he use his bullpen well?

Hector Neris was used in Houston as that left-hander that could get lefties out because of his splitter. We’ll see how he uses him and the value that Neris is going to have to that bullpen.

At the end of the day, looking forward to — let’s say if it’s in September, I think the biggest difference is going to come down to the maturity of the offensive players coming and growing as the season goes, but at the end of the day, it’s going to come down to the bullpen; will the bullpen come through for Craig Counsell.

Q: I have two questions about the Astros. What do you make of the state of the Astros with a rookie manager? And they’ve got some key contributors who are getting older and some who are going to be free agents in the next year or two. Are we at a crossroads with this Astros era? The second question is what do you make the addition of Josh Haber considering they already had an established closer in Ryan Pressly?

EDUARDO PÉREZ: I’ll jump in first and be pretty quick with it. I think Joe Espada knows his team really well. He’s been there quite some time. He saw the way Dusty managed, as well. We saw a glimpse of it also in the postseason last year when he took over in Minnesota when Dusty got kicked out of a game and he decided to hit for Peña, something I don’t know if Dusty would have done or not.

But the team knows Joe Espada. He knows the team really well. I don’t see any adjustment having to be made as far as those position players, the veteran guys on that roster.

The biggest difference is going to be for him making sure that Pressly and Pressly has said the right things from the beginning and he had those conversations with him, that he understands he’s got to go back to that old role of his of high leverage if it’s in the 7th or 8th inning knowing that Josh is only going to be able to go one inning, and that’s going to be the key inning, the ninth inning.

I don’t see a big adjustment. I managed against Joe in winter ball. I saw how prepared he is. I saw how prepared he was as a bench coach. I think he’ll be just fine.

Yeah, you’ve got to deal with age with the players, and hopefully they’ll stay healthy, but if they stay healthy, I still believe that this is in the regular season the best team in the American League West.

KARL RAVECH: It’s a great division. Give me Alex Bregman in the platform year. I love that. I think he’s ready to absolutely destroy it. He was talking about that last year. You can never have too many of a good thing — if you have two great closers you’re better as a team than if you are one, and I think a change of environment for somebody like Hader is going to be terrific.

But, boy, that division is loaded with Seattle and Texas. They’re in for a dogfight. But the way we were just talking about Counsell, what he brings, I think Espada has many of those qualities. Now he has an opportunity to prove it.

DAVID CONE: Yeah, I agree. I think the Astros have had an unbelievable run. This year I think they have a chance to really make a difference. I think obviously because they finally made the switch and are going to let Yanier Diaz catch, and his bat really plays. I think he’s got a chance to be a 20 or 30 home run guy behind the plate.

When you think about Altuve and Bregman and the core players that are there, they’re still on top of their game. I think the addition of hearing aider was a great move. It just deepens the bullpen at the end. There’s a full buy-in from all the relievers.

Pressly is bought in. He’ll pitch anytime in the game. He’ll pitch in the 7th or 8th inning. In some weays I think the Astros are really poised to make a big step this year, to make a big move.

And I also think that José Abreu is comfortable this year. We know he struggled for the majority of the year last year really until he got comfortable at the end. I think he’s comfortable now.

The Astros are as dangerous as ever, and Joe Espada is as buttoned down as anybody. He’s been one of the guys that’s been sort of projected to get one of these manager jobs for a while, because everywhere he goes, even when I had him with the Yankees, when I had a chance to meet him and talk to him when he was on the Yankee coaching staff, this guy is as buttoned down as anybody. That’s why he got all those interviews to be a manager.

When you talk about a script or if you talk about managers nowadays don’t really manage, don’t really manage a lot, they follow scripts. Well, the script is too extensive. There’s too many potential matchups.

What a manager can do is process all that information quickly, like Counsell does, and be able to make informed decisions based on the information that they have, and Espada is well prepared to do that.

It’s not like where the script said in the 7th inning you’ve got to bring in this pitcher. You don’t know how you got to the 7th inning. You don’t know what the situation is there. There’s 20 different decisions you can make in that spot. That’s the script. The script is sort of too big to play line by line, and that’s why general managers want managers who can process the information quickly and make informed decisions, and Espada is one of those guys who can really do that well.

EDUARDO PÉREZ: It’s clear to see that they have the best DH in the American League now, right?


KARL RAVECH: I think two other things. We didn’t mention Peña and Short. I think that’s a huge X factor for them. Like who is he given what we saw in the LCS and World Series a few years ago to kind of that downward trend last year. Can he bounce back?

And I think Kyle Tucker — this is a team that’s loaded with X factors. What happens to Kyle Tucker? Does he explode into the player we all believe he is capable of being, one of the top 10 players in the entire game? Is he ready for that season?

And if he has that season and you talk about Alvarez and Bregman and Abreu, it’s a very long list of athletes that are exceptional baseball players on the Astros.

But Tucker is an interesting one, and if he has that year that I think we all believe he’s capable of, it certainly elevates them to the top of that division. He’s that good.

Q: I want to go back to the American League East, and I’m curious, everybody talks about it being the toughest division in baseball. I’m curious if you agree with that and what you think the differential will be in terms of what will be the key to whatever team wins it, and why — to pack on another question here, why do you think it is that they have struggled in the playoffs over the last five years?

EDUARDO PÉREZ: I’ll go first on this one. I used to think that the American League East was the toughest division in baseball. National League West is pretty strong this year. The American League West is really strong this year. I think those two could probably compete — you could even say the National League East, as well, with the Braves and Phillies, the way that they are set up.

The divisions are definitely challenging right now, especially out west, and when you look at the Rays, last year was an interesting year for them. They started off the season as hot as any team that we’ve ever seen, and then they sort of plateaued with all the injuries, and Kevin Cash was able to get this team in the postseason, but it was a team that sort of came limping in compared to the team that we saw strong at the beginning of the season. I think that played.

You had a José Siri that had pretty much a broken hand, a thumb in the postseason. He could only bunt. You’re giving away outs there. I they Yandy Diaz came into his won last year and realized and learned how to be able to lift the ball with all his hard contact rate and the way he was able to get on base still as the lead-off hitter.

The star player there is Randy Arozarena. Compared to what we saw in 2021 to who he’s become now, with Paredes, as well, third in the numbers he put up, Harold Ramirez is a designated hitting.

Easy to say Kevin Cash has done wonders with this team, but it all comes down to the depth that they’ve had in their bullpen to be able to do well during the regular season, but during the postseason, they just lacked a lot of offense.

KARL RAVECH: I don’t think the American League East is the best division at all. I think both the National League West is better. I think the American League West is better. Oftentimes the perception of the league going in or the division is associated with the amount of money that’s spent, and in the case of AL East, traditional spender, Boston, isn’t spending anything.

The Orioles don’t need to spend anything yet, and they’re the best team in the division.

The Yankees have some injury concerns right now that you don’t see out in Los Angeles or Arizona.

San Francisco spent money late which was really encouraging. When you lose a guy like Glasnow, regardless of his injury history and the the limited amount of innings he’s pitched, when you see a team like Los Angeles go get him, there’s at least this perception, well, now he’s going to go win a Cy Young out there and he is going to be healthy and things are going to be different.

I don’t have the American League East being the power they have been recently partly because of the Yankees’ inability to succeed lately and the Red Sox’ unwillingness to spend money. I think those other divisions are better.

DAVID CONE: All valid points. The Rays are always the X-factor in the American League East. They’ve been the envy of the sport for a while now from doing — as everybody knows, they do more with less. They may have the best pitching coach in the Big Leagues. Kyle Snyder has a track record that is second to none. The development of pitching there is phenomenal. They continue to do it. He’s underrated. Not in the sport he isn’t. Certainly in the industry people know about him and what he’s built there. But if you’re not following that closely, maybe you don’t realize how good of a pitching coach he is, how good the pitching system is in Tampa, ahead of the curve, and they continue to find more and more pitching.

Every year they turn out new arms, better arms, relievers that you’ve never heard of that get tweaked, get coached up, and end up having a big impact on their team.

I anticipate that to continue on, to keep going. The Rays are going to be right in the middle of it. They’re always underrated. They always overperform.

But I agree with Karl, though. I think the American League East has always been kind of the one division to look at and then compare to everybody else. So that’s no longer the case depending on what happens in Boston. But the Rays are still right in the middle of it, and I think they will once again overachieve and then beat their protections because most of the protections have them probably in the middle of the pack, maybe in the mid-80s in terms of projected wins. I expect them to beat it once again.

Q: You guys were at Red Sox camp. How did you find Alex Cora? It seems he thinks a lot more of his team than others do on the outside. How did you find him, and how do you think this year is going to be for him because there’s so much uncertainty?

KARL RAVECH: Well, I think confidence comes as a result of results, and Alex has had really good results. He’s also had some last-place finishes.

But I think when you look at their position players, they have a formidable lineup. Assuming everybody stays healthy and they produce, it’s a really good lineup. He must see things in Houck and Whitlock at the back end that give him reason for optimism. But I know this: Alex is supremely and I believe rightfully confident in his ability to get the most out of his team, and I think he likes his team better than most other people do.

I think he looks around at that division and perhaps sees a Tampa team that might be a little vulnerable, a Toronto team that might be a little bit vulnerable relative to projections. Got a Yankee team that has to deal with injuries. He talks with Aaron Boone all the time. They have their own opinion about not only their division but the league, and I think Alex likes being dealt a hand that a lot of people are skeptical and doubtful of because he’s proven in years past the ability to take a team and achieve things that most don’t think he can do.

The problem for Alex, and he was willing to acknowledge this with us, people are sort of talking and speculating about him as a free agent and why didn’t the Red Sox offer him an extension. He said, well, wait a minute, I’ve got a handful of last-place finishes. What about my record would indicate I should be given a five-year extension. We’ve got to get rid of the last-place finishes, and I am responsible for that along with the players in this clubhouse.

There was a good look in the mirror about what he believes he’s capable of, but the reality of the situation are the last-place finishes.

EDUARDO PÉREZ: Adding to it, he loves the fact that his outfield is a lot more athletic with Rafaela at center, Duran at right, and also you out O’Neill, who’s a Gold Glover in left field in a shorter left field at bat. If he can come into the guy that was a couple years ago in St. Louis, you have a very dynamic outfield at least that can run it back in a way.

You’ll be able to get some outs out of that. And then with a young core, as I said earlier, I think it’ll play.

Alex makes everybody better. I remember Sparky Anderson one time telling me at the Otesaga Hotel in Cooperstown, if you can get the players to get to the ballpark and get to the ballpark to perform, leaving their houses and leaving their families and wanting to be at the ballpark, Alex has that knack.

He’s got that ability of wanting to get there and being able to see not only him but see the entire core nucleus of the team. That’s a gift. That’s a gift that he has and players love playing for him.

I think that that’s going to play this year, especially with the young core of guys that they have, and I think the Red Sox fans will enjoy the athleticism that they’re going to provide this year compared to the last couple years as long as they stay healthy.

KARL RAVECH: Note the name dropping there Sparky Anderson and the Otesaga Hotel. Eddie has been on that patio there rubbing elbows with the Hall of Famers. Noted.

EDUARDO PÉREZ: And noticed I learn how to change my name from my wife’s name to the my name on the Korean. That was the delay of game we had earlier today, too, so I apologize. That was on me.

KARL RAVECH: I think it’s important they get off to a good start, because I don’t think the Red Sox fans will enjoy the athleticism unless it’s winning athleticism. There’s obviously been a bit of an apathetic approach to the team this offseason from the fan base, and it’s going to take wins to get them excited, and it is an easy thing to get excited about when a younger athletic team has success, but you’ve got to have success in order to get everybody to buy in, I think.

Q: Let’s get to the Shohei Ohtani situation. Does the expression any publicity is good publicity — and historically in baseball big scandals have gotten a lot of national attention. The day after Sammy Sosa’s corked bat I think there was a SportsCenter special about it. Say it ain’t Sosa. I never forgot the pun there. There’s that element, but it’s also just not good for the sport to have your biggest name associated with that sort of thing. I wanted to get your opinion: Is there any element to this where getting baseball on to the national talk shows this time of year could be a positive aspect of what’s ultimately a negative story?

KARL RAVECH: Yeah, I’ll go, just having been — go ahead, Coney, you go.

DAVID CONE: I think you probably have a really unique perspective on this, so we’ll let you be the anchor. There’s some truth in that, absolutely. Certainly the battle for the back page, as George Steinbrenner used to say in New York, was a big deal and he knew that and the importance of that.

So yeah, this is part of that, and the lines are really blurred in today’s society. We have partnerships with gambling now, and how long before that really gets cemented where you can — I remember playing in México in the winter league where you’d see people betting in the stands every pitch.

That’s going to be a Major League park pretty soon where you can go to a window and make bets on every pitch. The lines are very blurred right now on just the nature of the partnership between Major League Baseball and betting.

But with all that being said, the problem here is that there’s just no clarification. We need to know what really happened here. The story just got muddled right out of the gate. Stories were refuted immediately after press conferences. There’s just a lot of confusion now that really needs to be cleared up.

I know Ohtani is going to speak about it and it’ll be interesting to hear what he has to say. And then the investigation is going on, so this story is not going away. If anything, it’s more confusing now than when we first heard about it.

KARL RAVECH: Yeah, I would say I vividly remember the Sosa special the next day, and of course given what he and McGuire were doing, it warranted it.

Look, the Dodgers going into the season were always going to be — and I don’t mean this in any negative way because I was a kid that used to attend the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. They were going to be a three-ring circus the entire season, and not in a bad way, because of the attention they bring to them receives with the acquisitions, with the star talent, with Dave Roberts, with the expectations.

It was going to be a three ring circus no matter what, and now they’ve added this fourth ring. They didn’t want it, they didn’t need it, but it’s part of the deal, and until there’s resolution to the investigations, it would be impossible to say that this was good or bad.

Being associated with gambling in any way in our sport is a disaster. There’s no question about it. But the PR turns that this is going to take are still to be determined.

Having been in Seoul and knowing in the United States that people were talking more about the game of baseball was a positive thing. The problem is it was in a negative light because of gambling.

So yes, more attention paid to it, yes, a lot of conversations about it, which is always good, but you don’t want it to be about a bad subject.

I will say this: In my experience now, 31 years at ESPN, I think Major League Baseball has a greater microscope on it when it comes to scandals, steroids, gambling, than any of the other major sports.

I’m not sure if that’s because of its place in American culture, but I do think it gets treated differently. I think to Major League Baseball’s credit perhaps it gets treated differently.

I think there was — in my generation, me and David and Eduardo and some other people on this phone call, a reverential connection to the game that you didn’t have with the other sports. That may be changing, and certainly where baseball is relative to football and basketball it may ultimately change over the coming years.

But Major League Baseball has always, I think, held in special way by sports fans, and I think that’s what led to the microscope being magnified on some of these things, and I think it continues today. Whether it continues down the road — but I do think my experience is that baseball is treated differently than other sports with regards to, oh, my God, there’s gambling and it’s baseball and it’s the worst thing ever as opposed to giving it some time to let itself be vetted out.

EDUARDO PÉREZ: I’m just curious to see what Shohei is going to be able to say today. I’m going with what David had said and definitely what Karl said, as well.

We always hear from his past managers and we heard it again from Dave Roberts, Shohei’s ability to compartmentalize, and I think this year is going to be really interesting because he did it once already before but without all this noise, and that’s just be a DH. He didn’t have to keep his mind between pitching and DHing and moving around a lot. It’s just about DHing and let’s see how that’s going to affect him on the field with all this negative news.

But look, I’m curious to find out what he has to say today, and I think from there we can see what Major League Baseball’s investigation is going to be about and everything. Just a lot of different stories, and I think we’re waiting just like everybody else to see what comes about this.

LA didn’t need this story. They had their own story coming into the year as it was. I’m just curious to see how if at all this affects the team in general because it’s a super team that they’ve built there.

THE MODERATOR: I’ll note that the 6:00 p.m. edition of SportsCenter today will have substantial coverage of Ohtani and his comments today. Depending on when he speaks it may be taken live within SportsCenter, but we’ll communicate coverage plans out as the day goes on.

Q: Following up on this topic, as broadcasters I’m curious how you guys think about approaching such a sensitive story in game during the broadcast. When Shohei Ohtani comes to bat, do you touch on what has happened to him with respect to his former interpreter, or is that something that maybe depends on what we learn in the next week, given how much is coming out and the pace it’s coming out at, or do you prefer to leave that to the pregame discussion, maybe the postgame discussion and not touch on it in game? Just curious how you think through that.

ANDY JACOBSON: I am. Yeah, for sure. When news like that breaks or there’s something of that nature being reported, we have a lot of conversations behind the scenes with each other, with various people at ESPN to kind of figure out a plan of attack.

I think what we’ve set out to do is just hit on the facts. We can’t roll in our opinions on something this delicate, this sensitive. But I do think there’s an expectation from our viewers, from our fans to cover it in some capacity, to talk about it. That’s sort of what we did in Seoul when this was all — we woke up to that news on Thursday morning in Seoul, South Korea, that had broke.

We have these conversations all day leading up to it, and we decided we’ll hit it in the pregame, but we need to talk about it during the show. We need to go through the facts, go through the timeline.

Karl and Eduardo are in a unique position to be able to gather some interesting insight pregame. With all that was buzzing around, our best source of information and context was Karl and Eduardo who were there talking to Dave Roberts before the game, talking to players.

So I think there’s the expectation of attacking it and talking about it but being really smart and being careful not to just give opinion but stick with facts and stick with what we can find out that’s straight facts, like don’t get into any trouble with speaking facts. Karl and Eddie can kind of weigh in there.

KARL RAVECH: It’s an interesting time, JP, in our culture, given the way that opinions are sought after, the microphones that certain people have been given to share their thoughts and opinions where opinions are expected.

In our case, I think there’s an enormous amount of value in the experience and credibility that come with people like Eduardo and David who have been around the game for so long. I mentioned having been at ESPN for over three decades and dealt with all sorts of different scandals.

Andy is right; you absolutely at this time rely on the reporters like Tisha Thompson and TJ Quinn to provide all the facts. We report the facts in this case, but there’s also informed opinion that comes from being the boots on the ground with the Dodgers in Seoul and talking to players, and not necessarily giving our opinion but giving the opinion that we’re getting from those who are closest to the situation in the clubhouse.

There is a distinction between my opinion, Eduardo’s, Coney’s versus somebody who’s wearing the uniform, and I think it allows us to give a great deal of context to the viewer and the audience to hear what’s being said in the clubhouse.

It’s a way to express those opinions when they’re not ours but they’re very, very valid, and that’s I think the role of the broadcaster with regards to a story like this. It’s not one where you can say who do you think is a better player or is he struggling with this particular pitch.

This is one that I think experience will remind you very easily you don’t go out there and speculate. You just don’t. That’s how we’ll handle it.

Q: I wanted to ask a question as it relates to the broadcast itself. Just two sort of related things. One, in terms of how do you approach when you’re talking to players who are mic’d up during the game, how do you get insightful conversations with them without distracting from the game? And secondly, obviously baseball has always been a game of numbers, but it seems like the broadcasts are running more and more numbers, probability, things like that. Just wondering how having those stats on screen, how it affects how you call the game.

DAVID CONE: Sure, I think we want to be as progressive as we possibly can. We’re covering the game. All front offices are covering these topics. All managers are covering these topics. In the course of a game, there’s real-time information that’s being handed down to pitchers or to hitters or to managers that we need to cover and be aware of. We would not be doing our jobs if we weren’t trying to educate ourselves and trying to let the viewer know exactly how these decisions are made and what’s going on behind the scenes, the under-the-hood look, so to speak.

My rule of thumb generally is if I don’t fully understand it, then I probably don’t touch it. I need to stay away from it. I need to fully understand whatever topic we’re talking about, if it’s a progressive topic or something under the umbrella of analytics. If I don’t fully understand it, I’m not going to get into it deeply. I need to be able to explain it concisely and fit it in in the middle of an inning to where it works.

That’s kind of my guide on whether or not to touch it, how much you get into it and how far you go with it.

We’d be remiss if we’re not covering these sorts of topics because the game is being run this way now. Front offices are making decisions this way. Information is being handed down in real time. I know for a fact last year that Garrett Cole would get a printout in between innings to show exactly what his vertical and horizontal movement were on his pitches, where his release point was.

This is information that we just guessed at back when I pitched, and they have printouts and data now that is real time that — Matt Blake, the pitching coach for the Yankees, passes on to his pitchers, especially the ones who can handle that information.

Now, not everybody can handle that information. Some pitchers don’t want to have that information. But I know a lot of them do, and they can make quicker adjustments on the fly with this new information that is being relayed to them in real time from new technology.

KARL RAVECH: Yeah, I think David’s point is a real relevant one there, that the information that Garrett Cole was handed in between innings is not necessarily the information that every pitcher on that staff wants.

I think similarly, our balancing act is how much information do you give, and how many people want it versus how many people want to watch a game and don’t want any of it. That’s the dance that we have to sort of navigate through each game.

There are clearly metrics that most people believe they understand. I’m not sure that they all do, but they believe that they understand it, so it adds to their ability to understand maybe why managers make certain decisions, et cetera, et cetera, but there’s definitely a group of people that just want to watch a dang game and they don’t want all that information.

Sometimes we put it on the screen and we don’t even refer to it so that those people who want it have it, if they choose to look at it and use it. Other people choose to ignore it.

Secondly, with regards to your question on how the game is presented with regards to the in-game interviews, et cetera, there is an E in ESPN, and it stands for entertainment, and as a guy that has been an auctioneer at 100 different auctions, people want experiences. Our broadcast is an opportunity to provide the viewer with an experience they otherwise wouldn’t get, and one of the great experiences we can provide is access to a player who’s playing a game who’s willing to do it, and that’s a win for us.

The majority of people really love to hear their favorite players sharing what it’s like to be on the field. Eduardo is tremendous at asking a player, Rafael Devers, okay, so it’s first and second; what are you thinking about before this pitch is going to be thrown. No one at home is going to get the answer to that unless that question is asked of the player. You can all speculate, but it’s important to know what Rafael Devers is thinking, what Mookie Betts is thinking, what Matt Olson is thinking, whatever, Ronald Acuña. Get us inside a game. Get us an experience we otherwise aren’t going to get.

I think the majority of people like it, and I don’t think we’re ever going to be affected by the people out there on Twitter who say, leave it alone, I don’t want to hear about — watch the game. Not going to happen because the majority of people do enjoy it, and we do believe it is an experience you otherwise are not going to get. Unless they start handing out microphones and earpieces to the fans that walk in and allow them to speak to the player, we are it.

EDUARDO PÉREZ: I think the technology is unbelievable. There’s no wires except we had to use wires in Seoul for the capabilities, but if you look at the earpieces and you see the players wearing this, they want to wear it. We ask them.

The interesting part is the next day you can ask the player and they’ll be like, you know what, it actually had me even more engaged in the game, or I like the aspect of being able to explain to the audience what I am doing out here. I understand that I’m in a unique situation as a Major Leaguer to be able to explain it to kids or to parents or to coaches what we’re doing in certain situations.

But sometimes it makes me laugh that belly half that I hear people saying, oh, how come Karl asked — if it’s Cristian Acosta a question, is he crazy for asking him this. Look, we vet the guys before. We ask them before sometimes where people might think it’s sensitive, but for them it’s not, and they want to be able to explain about if it’s Mother’s Day and how important his aunt was to his upbringing.

The players want it. I think the players gravitate towards it. We’ve had so many instances of like when am I going to be on the mic. That’s pretty cool also to hear a Major Leaguer while they’re doing their job being able to explain to the audience what their job is all about and what they’re thinking.

I think it’s unique. I think it’s — and every week we have the conversation. Okay, if it’s the Mets-Cardinals, who are we going to be with the Mets-Cardinals. If it’s the Dodgers-Braves, who are we going to have. Some players opt to not have it and we respect that, but the players that do, we embrace it and they embrace it, as well.

KARL RAVECH: There is an absolute 100 percent sensitivity to the time, to the place, to the game situation, where we are doing our level best not to put the player in a compromised position while they’re doing their job. It is absolutely the first thing we think about when asking a question and the timing of that question.

Q: I’m just curious, everyone does say that Kyle Snyder is a great pitching coach and we see the results. I’m just curious why do you think that is?

DAVID CONE: Well, I think what he has is such a credibility to connect with his pitchers that he gets a buy-in, and really that’s the key that any organization is looking for. Any pitching coach, any general manager, any manager, they want sort of a uniformity to where we’re all on the same page, here’s the assets we have, here’s the technology we have, here’s how we use it, here’s how we explain it, and here’s how we interpret some of this sophisticated data to make it palatable, to make it understanding to a lot of players.

I think that’s the secret sauce that he does as well as anybody. You take complex analytical ideas and break them down into sort of a translation. The last-mile guy. He’s a great last-mile guy to where he understands the analytics part, but he’s also a baseball guy and he knows how to sort of interpret some of the analytics and make it palatable, or for the pitchers, especially the ones that can’t handle a lot of information or maybe aren’t familiar with some of the terminology. He can break it down as well as anybody, and I’ve seen him do it.

I’ve talked to him over the years, and he gets a full buy-in from his pitching staff. They completely trust him, and to me that’s what every pitching coach really needs, really yearns. If you don’t have the buy-in, you’ve got trouble. That means you’re going to have sort of back biting or pitchers who don’t buy in or pitchers who don’t listen or who go off on their own program.

That’s not the case with Kyle. Kyle gets the full buy-in from all his pitchers because they respect him, and he translates the data so well and makes it understandable, even in the simplest terms to where pitchers can make adjustments on the fly and become better pitchers seemingly overnight.

KARL RAVECH: Having just come from Seoul, Kyle is the human version of Google translate.

Q: Meaning he can do the analytics-to-pitchers speak?

KARL RAVECH: 100 percent. He’s the bridge. He is the conduit between something they may have a difficult time understanding and making it very easy to understand. The human version of Google translate, which in Seoul was critical.

THE MODERATOR: This has been a great hour-long discussion. Thank you to Karl, David, Eduardo and Andy for taking the time today, and like I said at the top, all the writers on the call, we always appreciate your interest and value what you do.

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