Jim Deshaies will be experiencing a first this summer. Along with his TV partner, Len Kasper — this assuming the season goes off as planned — Deshaies will be calling road games remotely. The Cubs duo won’t be alone. Per reports, broadcasters across both leagues are slated to do the same.
Deshaies hopes to be in Wrigley Field for the entire 60-game schedule. Rather than broadcasting away-action from a studio, the pitcher-turned-analyst envisions doing so, alongside Kasper, from the friendly confines of their home booth. He doesn’t see safety being an issue. As Deshaies put it, “Up there we’re in a wide open, well-ventilated space, and there wouldn’t be anyone else around. Plus, it would give us a little more of a ballpark atmosphere.”
Regardless of where they’re perched, things won’t be business as usual.
“It’s going to be kind of surreal, and weird,” said Deshaies, who is heading into his eighth season in Chicago after 16 in Houston. “I’ve never done [games remotely], but our tech people, producers, and directors are all really good. One thing they’ll need to make sure of is that we have monitors, and camera shots that will give us a live view. We’ll want to be able to see who is walking into the on-deck circle, who is warming up in the bullpen, and things like that.”
The nuts and bolts of the broadcasts will in some ways be the same.
“For me, it’s already pretty heavy monitor,” said Deshaies. “Especially on TV. When you’re on radio it’s a different animal, On television you want to make sure you’re seeing what the people watching at home are seeing. For me, it all begins with the pitch. I want to be focusing on the monitor as the pitch is being delivered, so that I can say, ‘He missed his spot,’ or ‘That was a hanging slider.’ A play-by-play guy is typically going to be more field-focused, while as an analysts I’m probably 80/20 monitor.”
Deshaies is 100% certain of what he’ll miss most this season. While he obviously enjoys visiting MLB’s various venues, it’s not just the action on the field that makes them special.
“It’s the people everywhere, man,” Deshaies told me. “It’s Lorraine serving the brats in Milwaukee. It’s the security guy outside the door in Pittsburgh. It’s the ushers, the scouts, the writers, the other broadcasters. As you know, one of the best parts of our jobs is the press-room conversations. Baseball people kibitzing up there is one of the great joys of the job.”
Because of COVID-19, that great joy is on hold for the foreseeable future. And for Deshaies, the reminders don’t have to wait until games are finally being played again. They’re already coming at the conclusion of phone conversations and Zoom calls.
“It’s funny, because you reflectively say, ‘Hey, I’ll see you at the ballpark,’ explained Deshaies. “Then you hang up and go, ‘No I won’t. I’m not going to see anybody at the ballpark this year.’ Hopefully we can get through this and have some sense of normalcy when we roll out 2021.”
Here is a snapshot of their numbers:
Ordonez: .309/.369/.502; 2,156 hits; 3,506 total bases; 126 wRC+.
Puckett: .318/.360/.477; 2,304 hits; 3,453 total bases; 122 wRC+
What did the voters think? The answer can be found below.
RANDOM HITTER-PITCHER MATCHUPS
Ordonez received 50.4% of the vote in the “Who Was a Better” poll. Puckett garnered 49.6%.
Sticking with Twitter polls, I ran one yesterday afternoon asking which is preferable: starting the 10th inning with a runner on second base, or having the game end in tie. A total of 1,308 people weighed in, and I was somewhat surprised by the result. A full 70.1% voted for a runner on second, while just 29.9% favored a tie.
As the poll was winding down, I asked a pair of former big-leaguers — a position player and a pitcher — for their opinions. Both focused on the new rule that will start extra innings with a runner at second base.
Will Middlebrooks: “I’m a baseball purist…. BUT… given the cards we’ve been dealt in 2020, I’m not sure there will be a better time to simply try it out. I feel like it was a success in the WBC, and the players I’ve talked to really didn’t mind it at all. It will spare us from the 15-plus-inning games. It’s so hard to score in those games, because as position players you’re completely gassed. Hopefully this will end games before the 12th, saving bullpen arms as well.”
Ryan O’Rourke: “I would assume there are two distinct camps. You have the group that is against extra innings, so any way to get the game over earlier, the better. Then you have the people who put the sanctity of the game above all else, and the rule is almost blasphemous.
“It gives a huge advantage to the home team. If the away team fails to score, the numbers show that the home team should bunt the runner over. I subscribe to the anti-bunt tribe, but in this instance I agree with bunting. When a game-decision can be decided with simple math is when I think we should rethink such a drastic change. If this rule is to protect arms and players in a pandemic season, then I’m for it. Beyond 2020, I’m against it.”
Yoshitomo Tsutsugo was signed by the Tampa Bay Rays this past winter on the heels of several stellar seasons with the Yokohama Bay Stars. Now 28 years old, he was once a promising prospect looking to prove himself at Japan’s highest level. Brandon Mann was there to see it. it. In both 2011 and 2012, Mann was a teammate of the up-and-coming slugger.
“First off, he’s a great guy,” Mann said of Tsutsugo. “When I got to Yokohama, he was the biggest minor-league prospect in Japan. He always said he wanted to be a big-leaguer, and watching him hit, there was no doubt in my mind that was going to happen. I would watch his BP, and he would backspin these moonshots. He reminded me of Griffey in a way. Growing up in Seattle, I would watch Griffey hit the ball a mile high and you’d be, ‘that’s going to get caught,’ but it would keep carrying and go 20 rows deep. That’s how Tsutsugo would hit them.”
It took Tsutsugo a few years to find his footing in NPB, but once he did, the power truly flourished. Over the past four seasons, he bashed 139 home runs, displaying solid plate discipline along the way. Not surprisingly, Mann is bullish on how Tsutsugo’s talents might translate to MLB.
“At that time, he was just a pull hitter,” Mann said. “As he’s progressed, he’s gone to where he has incredible power to all fields. Honestly, I’m fricking pumped that he’s going to be playing in the big leagues.”
This player won two National League batting titles, one of them in a season where he recorded just 102 hits.
The answer can be found below.
Eddie Kasko, an infielder for five teams from 1957-1966, died earlier this week at age 88. Kasko played for the Cincinnati Reds in the1961 World Series, and went on to manage the Boston Red Sox from1970-1973.
City of Palms Park, the spring training home of the Boston Red Sox from 1993-2011, will reportedly be demolished next year. The Fort Myers, Florida facility has recently been used by Florida SouthWestern State College’s baseball team.
ESPN will air Ema Ryan Yamazaki’s documentary film “Koshien: Japan’s Field of Dreams” on Monday June 29 at 7 p.m. EST. A nationwide, single-elimination high school baseball tournament, Koshien been held since 1915.
The answer to the quiz is Ernie Lombardi. The Cincinnati Reds catcher led the senior circuit with a .342 batting average in 1938, and with a .330 batting average in 1942. In the latter of those two seasons, Lombardi logged 102 hits in 309 at bats.
If you’ve gone without a haircut during the pandemic, you probably don’t want to turn to Carter Capps for help. The erstwhile reliever had a nasty fastball, but he wasn’t exactly handy with a pair of scissors.
“In spring training 2013, I was rooming with Danny Hultzen, John Hicks, and Steven Proscia,” recalled Capps, who was with the Seattle Mariners at the time. “Hicks’s hair was getting really long, and he was like, ‘Hey Capps, have you ever cut hair before?’ I definitely hadn’t, but I said, ‘Yeah, I could cut it for you.’”
As you might expect, things didn’t go so well.
“Halfway through, I thought I was doing a pretty good job,” claimed Capps. “Then, I don’t know what I did — I was talking to Danny, or something — but I cut off his entire sideburn. Not like beard sideburn, but the part that comes down by your ear, even if you’re clean shaven. I cut that off, but only on one side. I didn’t say anything. Hicks found out later when he looked in the mirror. It looked awful.”
How many times has Capps cut hair since that time?
LINKS YOU’LL LIKE
At Newsday, David Lennon unpacked some of MLB’s recently ironed out laundry.
Longtime scribe Mel Antonen has spent the last five months battling both an autoimmune disease and COVID-19. He wrote about his life-threatening experiences for MASN.
Bronson Arroyo and Jeff Francoeur squared off in the most-recent episode of Broadcaster Rules Challenge. The game-show-format videos are hosted by Cincinnati Reds TV analyst Chris Welsh, and can be found at BaseballRulesAcademy.com.
RANDOM FACTS AND STATS
In 1972, Gaylord Perry pitched in 41 games for the Cleveland Indians and got a decision in all of them. Perry went 24-16 in 40 starts and recorded a save in his only relief appearance.
Chad Bradford pitched in 24 postseason games and never got a win, loss, or save. He allowed one run over 23-and-a-third innings. (Per Aidan Jackson-Evans.)
In 1919, Babe Ruth went 9-5 with a 2.97 ERA and 12 complete games. He also led the league in home runs (29) and RBIs (113).
On this date in 2000, the Colorado Rockies rallied from a five-run deficit to defeat the San Francisco Giants 17-13. Jeff Cirillo homered three times for the winners.
On this date in 2008, the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 1-0 despite being held hitless by Jered Weaver and Jose Arredondo. The Dodgers scored in the fifth inning on a sacrifice fly that was preceded by a pair of errors and a stolen base.
On June 23, 1950, Hoot Evers hit a two-run, walk-off inside-the-park home run to give the Detroit Tigers a 10-9 win over the New York Yankees. It was his second long ball of the game. Evers, Jerry Priddy, Vic Wertz, and Dizzy Trout (a grand slam) all went deep for the Tigers in an eight-run fourth inning.
Players born on this date include Ken Williams, who played for three teams, mostly the St. Louis Browns, from 1915-1929. A left-handed-hitting outfielder, Williams had a .319/.393/.530 slash line, 1,552 hits, and a 134 wRC+. In 1922, he batted .322 and led the junior circuit in home runs (39) and RBIs (155).
Hugh Duffy slashed .440/.502/.694 for the Boston Beaneaters in 1894. The Hall of Fame outfielder had 51 doubles, 16 triples, 18 home runs, 160 runs scored, and 145 RBIs.