We’re just getting started with a new baseball season but already the pitch clock, lack of shifts and the running game of the Baltimore Orioles has Luke Jones pondering all of the changes for Opening Week and the hopes of the Birds of summer.
game, baseball, clock, question, pitcher, minor leagues, orioles, pitch, sports, people, watch, talked, grayson, inning, play, rules, theo epstein, point, years, individuals
Luke Jones, Dennis Koulatsos
Dennis Koulatsos 00:00
Move Welcome back. My first guest as always is the great Luke Jones leading off my my All Star opening day lineup. Luke, welcome in.
Luke Jones 00:09
Dennis, how are you my friend happy opening day home opener, backed up a day, but still a great time here in Baltimore.
Dennis Koulatsos 00:17
It is, and I can’t you know, I’m not a big baseball fan, admittedly. But I can’t tell you the last time I went to an opening day, but I’m going to this one even though the powers that be moved due to inclement weather coming in.
Luke Jones 00:28
Yeah, yeah, it’s unfortunate. And look, it’s one of those situations where any decision you make, it’s going to inconvenience someone right? I mean, you can wait till the morning of you can try to play and maybe you have a two or three hour rain delay or the game never gets played and all these people come downtown and for no reason. So the Orioles made the call what a little over 24 hours out from Thursday’s home opener and it is what it is. It’s unfortunate some people won’t be able to attend. But I know that the refund policy looked like it was $1 for dollar kind of deal. But I still expect it to be a fun atmosphere. Orioles three and three on their opening road trip acceptable nothing to do cartwheels over, but certainly nothing to be overly concerned about but certainly on the heels of Grayson Rodriguez making his major league debut on Wednesday afternoon, you know, rough rocky first inning really good after that. And that was good to see. So, you know, we’ve been talking about it going back to last couple years with you know, waiting for Adley rutschman and Gunnar Henderson and now Grayson Rodriguez de l Hall. In addition to some of the guys we’ve gotten to know, the Cedric Mullins and the Ryan mountcastle is over the last few years, but it’s a fun time. And certainly this is a team that still has some question marks. But I think there’s a lot to like a lot to be excited about and especially given what is going on with the ravens and Lamar Jackson, as I’ve said and I’ve written at Baltimore positive.com. This is an opportunity for the Orioles to really create some buzz and generate some interest that let’s face it, they haven’t had in quite some time. So I certainly looking forward to the home opener and an opportunity for the Orioles to see if they can take a series against the hated New York Yankees.
Dennis Koulatsos 02:12
Now I’ve had the pleasure of meeting not only Grayson Rodriguez, but also dr. Hall, to some mutual friends, just fantastic young men really, really, really good people. And that was really touched. You tweeted out. Grayson’s interacted with his father, in the locker room, I thought that was really neat. It was
Luke Jones 02:28
so neat. And if you had the chance to watch the game, the mass and cameras were regularly looking at his father Gilbert to just to see the reaction to see him living and dying with every pitch. And I mean, who can’t relate to that it can whether you’re whether you’re a baseball fan, whether you’re talking about another sport, at any level, I mean, think about whether whether you’re thinking about your own dad or you being a father to your son or your daughter involved in sports. I mean, it’s that’s special. So to get to see that the idea that you know his his the circumstances of his debut were not exactly ideal. You know, he had a rough spring, he didn’t make the opening day roster. But for him to be in that position where he made his major league debut roughly three hours from where he grew up in Texas, you know, up to about three hours away, Arlington is it’s pretty special. So to see that moment, and kudos to the mass and cameras for providing that little bit of access to to see that embrace. I mean, your heart has to be made a stone if that didn’t get to you a little bit that was pretty special.
Dennis Koulatsos 03:33
We have a kid who plays college softball in our family and the first time she stepped on to feel that I teared up. The first time she hit a homerun I lost it completely lost it. So I can imagine at the major league level the pride that the rigors his father had just watching his son play. So it was indeed a special moment. Again, I thank you for capturing it and sharing it with the rest of us.
Luke Jones 03:54
Yeah, I mean, again, it’s real easy. We get lost with this. And oh my goodness, we’ve talked so much about the business side of sports with Lamar and the Ravens and everything going on there. But at the end of the day, these are still human beings. These are sons, the daughters and other sports, you know, obviously the NCAA women’s tournament, you know, the Final Four in the championship garnered a lot of attention. So, you know, even at the highest levels, at the end of the day, they’re still human beings. It’s still about relationships. And you mentioned having a chance to meet Grayson Rodriguez a chance to meet DL Hall, hearing Adley rutschman and Gunnar Henderson I mean, this is a young core of guys that came up through the minor leagues and let’s face it, if anyone is familiar with minor league baseball, that’s not the easiest lifestyle and now Major League Baseball rightfully is doing some things to improve the conditions of life in the minor leagues and certainly should considering how lucrative the business is in its totality. But yeah, those are guys that are riding buses and staying in not so great hotels and doing all the things because They’re chasing the dream. Now those individuals knew, chances are they would make it to the majors. But how many different guys go through that that kind of life for years and never even make it to the majors? Or maybe they have a cup of coffee. So to see some of these relationships now, at the major league level, it’s pretty cool. And I think that’s why this is a group of guys that yeah, there’s still some questions. And yeah, I’m not ready to say that it’s a foregone conclusion that they’re going to make the playoffs this year that they’re going to win a World Series in a couple years. But it is a fun group, lots of talent, but certainly some individuals that they, you know, at least on the level that we get to know them as fans or media even which we don’t really get to know these individuals that well. They seem to be pretty easy, pretty fun to root for. And, you know, beyond just winning that what else can you ask for?
Dennis Koulatsos 05:51
Now with the Baltimore Ravens Look, I’m a hardcore fan. I don’t want you to watch them if they were to and 15. Right, but not so much with baseball. I’m pretty much a bandwagon fan. I’ll watch the Orioles when I’m doing well. But it’s nice for me now, to even at my fast advancing age to be able to grow with this team. I know some of these players, I know the names, or the squad, I can probably name me all nine starters at any given night, which is, which is exciting for me as a sports fan in general in his town. It’s I’m glad to see the Orioles doing well being competitive out there.
Luke Jones 06:21
Yeah, I mean, you want to feel like you can invest in something, right? I mean, it’s it’s not just something you tune into when there’s nothing else on TV or, or you just like baseball, you want to invest in it a little bit. And again, it’s about people. So there is that level of excitement. And you’re talking about a group of young guys that will be here for the foreseeable future. Now there’s guys in their minor league system and certain individuals here they’re not there can always be traits. And we’ve seen that with the Ravens with some of their draft picks a year in recent years, especially. So you know that nothing, you know, there’s always going to be moving parts and changes. But at the same time, when you do have a young core of players, it is fun to think about them growing up and growing into potentially being a team that could win a championship that could win a World Series. So a lot of work to be done until they can get to that point. But again, to your point, I think it is capturing some interest from folks who either kind of tuned out just because of how bad the product has been for a long time. And let’s face it for most of the, the Angelo’s family, you know, their tenure over three decades, it’s been very, very, very, very disappointing, you know, save for a few years. So I think people are thirsting for winning baseball, championship baseball, but at the same time, it’s fun to kind of see these young guys and to see them having success. You know, it was, you know, it’s one thing that for Grayson Rodriguez to make his debut. He’s going up against Jacob deGrom, who when he’s right, it’s the best pitcher in baseball, and makes lots of teams look silly. But for him to, I don’t know if I’d say go toe to toe, but certainly he competed. And you could mention them in the same breath as the Gramma on Wednesday. That’s exciting. And that’s something that to your point is going to compel more people to tune in and start watching this team on a more regular basis, which is the idea right?
Dennis Koulatsos 08:17
Yeah. And I want to think that your your your baseball purist, right. You love the sport, and I don’t know how you feel about the changes. And for me, it wasn’t just one change. It was several changes, right? Whether it’s the pitch clock, the you can’t shift anymore, you gotta have to infielders Oh, no on each side, and also the the man on second base. I’m sure there’s a different term for it and extra innings. But you have all these changes. Look at the ones.
Luke Jones 08:41
Yeah, no question. Now I will say I’m not a big fan of the extra inning. You know, that man on second base?
Dennis Koulatsos 08:47
I’d like I don’t think what do they call that? They call it the mountains. I mean, I have no idea on second.
Luke Jones 08:51
Some people have called it a ghost runner. But he’s there, right? It’s not like a ghost. You’re playing rifle ball
Dennis Koulatsos 08:57
on the curb. That’s why I’m asking you what I call on the mountain second.
Luke Jones 09:01
I kind of call the automatic runner at second base and extra innings. Okay, I’m not a big fan of that. I’d like to see them go to play one or two regular extra innings and then maybe you go to that. But again, that’s extra innings. It’s not something that you deal with on the night.
Dennis Koulatsos 09:16
No more 19 in the game on the horizon. 90 Sure, sure.
Luke Jones 09:19
I mean, they certainly have made that clear that they don’t want that.
Dennis Koulatsos 09:25
They’re gonna ask you because I saw the first couple of games. I’ve seen some players get hit in the head being an act because I was wondering about the unintended consequences of like, speeding up the game, but the guy’s really settled, whether it’s the pitcher or the batter because you know, yeah. 20 seconds seems a bit fast to me. That’s
Luke Jones 09:44
all Yeah, that you know, that’s a really astute question for someone who’s who’s admits it. You’re not a big baseball fan? That’s a very fair question. It’s something yeah, I’ve thought about that in general terms, but you know, the couple hit batters in look, I mean, if you watch a lot of baseball, players get hit hit batters get hit. It’s something you never want to see, especially when they get hit up in the head, the head and face area. I mean, that’s just scary as as heck when that happens, and you’d like to think no. And certainly the instances that I’ve seen it this year, no, no suggestion whatsoever of ill intent. It’s just not not an option that happens. Right. But I think what you said is a fair question as far as the unintended consequences here. And I think, by and large, I love the pitch clock. I’m I am a baseball purist. And the idea of putting a clock in baseball makes me unsettled a little bit, because it’s the one sport that doesn’t have a clock. It’s the one sport that hypothetically the game could go on forever. Right? You can’t say that about the other sports, at least in a regular season sense. But I think that is the one question that as time goes on, there will be some instances. I mean, how about when we get into more of these ninth inning situations when it’s a tight game, later in the season, when the stakes are much higher? Oh, my goodness, the postseason. But at the same time, I think what we’ve seen in the minor leagues, and I actually hurt Theo Epstein, the former general manager of the Red Sox, and the Cubs who is basically I can’t remember his exact term now, you know, his exact title, but he’s basically working for Major League Baseball with Rob Manfred. And he’s been very instrumental and pivotal in pondering and testing out some of these rule changes. And of course, they collected a lot of data by doing it at the minor league level, and what they found with the clock that over time, kind of become second nature, it’s just the pace is different. And in the same way that we’ve seen this, you know, in other sports, the NFL has had the play clock go from, like, 45 to 40. You know, you have instances where it’s shorter, you know, what, when they’re winding the clock and whatnot, in the NBA, you know, you have the shot clock, you used to be the shot clock would automatically reset every time the ball hit the rim, that doesn’t happen anymore. You know, the NCAA
Dennis Koulatsos 11:57
things you just mentioned, look, the effects strategy and outcomes. And my, my, my, my question, as a non baseball purist, so to speak, is that it does a batter gain the advantage of the does a pitcher gain the advantages that did stay the same? Do these things balance out? I’m sure it’s too early to tell. We don’t have enough data. But I want to think that somebody’s going to get an advantage somewhere.
Luke Jones 12:17
Yeah, and I think it’ll balance out and I think a lot of it will have to do with I think a lot of this will do with inherently how fast as a pitcher or a hitter process, you know, how fast can you prepare? You know, we always talk about the physical demands of playing sports, but the mental aspect of it is is just humongous. So I think I think that’s a really fair question. And I don’t, I don’t think it’s even going to be a case of other pitchers that are at a major advantage or disadvantage are the hitters I think it’d be a case by case basis, I think certain individuals might be able to take better advantage of it. And, you know, there have been some questions in the Orioles school 10 base as the first two games, there’s a lot of question about, okay, how much of that’s related to the pitch clock and maybe made them all the time that up. Whereas I think if you look at the circumstances of those two games probably wasn’t as much pitch clock, maybe a little bit of that. And that a pitcher is not holding runners Well, being too slow to the plate, whatever. But these are all fair questions, but where, you know, going back to what I was mentioning about Theo Epstein, you know, longtime General Manager, Red Sox, and then Cubs won a World Series. And each, each stop. He made mention that and he kind of talked about, this is why they’ve tested all these rules out at the minor league level, they collected a lot of data. They went through this and they talked to lots of players, they talked to fans watching. He even he made mention, and this was anecdotal. But he talked about a longtime fan, a gentleman that was well into well, long into his life. Let’s just put it that way. You know, certainly. Long it was like, yeah, yeah, something along those lines. And he was someone that he had messaged Theo Epstein before and said, Hey, I hate the clock. You know, I hate this idea. All that. And then Theo said that this individual sometime later said, it’s great. We really talked about it. So that’s the biggest thing you have an open mind about it. Yeah, the pace of the game is different. But here’s the thing, what the game, the pace of the game in 2022 was already different than where it was in 2002, or 1992, or 1972. So everyone kind of talks about how much faster life has gotten in general. And that’s true. And look, that’s not even to poke fun at Baseball, baseball is my first love when it comes to sports. But you have to acknowledge that the world is getting faster. But the game and the data shows it with the time of average time of game. The baseball has continued to get slower over time, you know, so. So if you can have a clock and get it back to a pace of where it was 30 years ago, or 40 years ago, then why wouldn’t it be okay? And look at the thing that Theo Epstein said and let me give credit. This was the podcast, Jason Stark longtime MLB writer for the athletic did like an hour podcast with Epstein. And he flat out said, Look, we’re not at all of the mind that the way the rules are now with the exact details of the pitch clock and all that are set in stone that we will adjust them if there needs to be an adjustment made. But I think the overall sentiment I’ve seen, I’ve encountered very few people who don’t like it now, like I said, the extra inning runner at second base, the banning of the shift. I you know, I was reluctant about that, because that’s stifling strategy, intellect, right. That’s that’s stifling something that teams put a lot of work into. However, what Theo Epstein talked about was, and he’s an analytics guy, I mean, you know, he absolutely is someone who was at the forefront of changes. We’ve seen it within the game going back 20 years ago, but you get to a point where you do have to stop yourself and remind yourself and say at the end of the day, this is entertainment, right? Inherently, we all love football, we all love baseball, we all love basketball, inherently, if people aren’t consuming the product, or aren’t consuming it as much as you’d like, then the value of shooting a basketball or hitting a baseball or tackling a ball carrier doesn’t Yeah, there is no value if people don’t want to watch it. So that’s where you do have to look at it and say from an aesthetics standpoint, from an optics standpoint, that’s where I think they made the decision to to ban the shift. So that one, I don’t, I didn’t feel as strongly about being in favor of it. But it has led to some more bass hits and a higher batting average for balls being put in play. And that’s something that baseball wants at the end of the day. I think everyone would agree or most people would agree that consensus that the overwhelming majority would say, more action within the game a little bit quicker pace, and more action within the time of game for me, it wasn’t just shortening the game. I mean, if you want to shorten the game, make it seven innings. Right? It could have been as simple as that. And obviously, I’m not saying I’d want them to do that. But the point is, it’s the action within that game. And I think the early returns on that are very favorable. And we’ll see ultimately how it plays out. As we get deeper into the season. I think one thing we’re noticing is those pitch clock violations. First of all, they’re not happening all that often already, after they had spring training to adjust. And that was the that was the consensus in the minor leagues were Yeah, at first, there were a few more, you know, you’d have maybe one and a half, maybe two per game on average. But they said within a month or so it was down to about a half of one per game. So, you know, you’re talking about something that’s what along the lines of maybe a delay of game penalty and football, you know, maybe no shot clock violation, you have maybe a couple, you know, over the course of a game. So you’re not talking about something that’s all that terribly intrusive when in relation to the rest of the game. So I think the early returns are very favorable.
Dennis Koulatsos 17:58
Well, baseball has been shrinking right, their fan base has been strengthened that they’ve had a difficult time attracting younger people to the game. And I think these all these moves will help attract additional eyeballs additional Fannie’s in the seats up to stadiums, most young people rather see a 10 Nine game versus a one nothing or two to one gem that someone like you would enjoy.
Luke Jones 18:19
Yeah, I mean, I think there was a middle ground, I think you want to you want to maintain the integrity and the spirit of the game, right? I mean, I love a good pitcher’s duel. At the same time, what I wasn’t loving Dennis is what we were seeing more and more of which was two to one. And we’re not talking about Pedro Martinez against Roger Clemens or anything like that. We’re talking two to one with both teams using six total pitchers on each side. So 12 Total pitchers, and that two to one game that only featured seven hits, let’s say and maybe 16 strikeouts, that game was lasting three hours and 50 minutes.
Dennis Koulatsos 18:55
Because of all the old punch changes, the warm ups everything and how slow right? You don’t have to start going nine innings you have, like you said a dozen guys participating.
Luke Jones 19:05
So if you’re gonna have that, we’re not going back to that era of seeing Jim Palmer throw.
Dennis Koulatsos 19:12
The farmer JP Yeah,
Luke Jones 19:14
I mean, the number Yeah, well, he’s throwing 15 or 20 or plus complete games like now like
Dennis Koulatsos 19:20
95 or 95 pitches, right. So exactly. So
Luke Jones 19:23
so if we’re not going to go back to that, but the action and the style with which we’re playing the game today, can we speed up the pace a little bit and that’s where the pitch clock comes in. That’s where some of these other factors come in. And you know, even that the other factor that’s going to be talked about and I mentioned Theo Epstein he addressed this and they’re working on this right now is automated strike zone. Now the public
Dennis Koulatsos 19:48
minuses. I’ve seen them in a minors I like that a lot.
Luke Jones 19:51
But there are still questions about that even as far as okay. The human element, even an umpire, who is regarded as The quote, best umpire is that strike zone exactly the same as what an automated strike zone. How about the idea, if you have an 11, nothing gain, what tends to happen late in the game, the umpire expands the strike zone to keep the game moving, right? It’s 11, nothing, don’t belabor the point and automate its own will not do that. So if you have some pitchers late in the game, when it’s a blowout, that game could drag on longer. Sometimes there are always unintended consequences. And the point is not to be anti automated strike zone, or anti any of these rules, it’s to understand collect data, see what the drawbacks are, see, what kind of system do you want a fully automated system, or the other is the other option that they’re exploring is a partial, where you have the system in place, you have a human being umpire still calling balls and strikes, and you have a challenge system in place, then, kind of like the NFL. I don’t know how I feel about that. But you know, there’s, they’re exploring these different options. And what I like and this goes back to what you said, is, for anyone who loves the game, and I love baseball, I want to see baseball thrive and continue to thrive for a long, long time long after we’re all gone. But acknowledging that there are things about the game that need to be improved. So I like the idea that they’re considering that but don’t jump into anything. Don’t be hasty with any of those decisions. That’s why testing it out at the minor league level has worked out nicely. And if you’re a team like the Orioles, my goodness, you have all these guys who were in the minor leagues not all that long ago. It’s old hat for them. You know, it’s old hat, Grayson, for you guys for a pitch clock for him. No problem. Yeah, so so that’s where it’s interesting. And again, I think the overall consensus, the overall sentiment for these rules early on has been positive, while acknowledging some questions that, you know, like you posed or questions that we’ll get into, as we get deeper into the season and understanding, the stakes will grow. But at the same time, you’ll have a major league baseball at that point, that will be very, very used to a pitch clock, once we get to September, and October, and the stakes will be higher, there’ll be used to it there’ll be acclimated, so I think it’ll, I don’t think it’ll be as big of a problem as some people have, at least wondered if it will be. I got
Dennis Koulatsos 22:09
I got to share this with you look when I saw the Orioles opener, because I hadn’t seen a game, but I didn’t watch any preseason baseball. I was really intrigued by the clock. I mean, I felt like I was watching a different game with all the changes. I really did. I’m like, this is not, it was the same. It’s like you’re used to seeing horses, you got a horse, Horse, horse horse. Now you see a zebra, you know, it’s a horse, but it’s different. And that that was my gut reaction about what I was seeing as a fan. Yeah, and for me, not in a bad way. I’m not saying it’s in a good way. Sure.
Luke Jones 22:40
Yeah. For me, it’s not even really about the clock. I kind of forget about it after a while. And you know, I’m not I’m certainly not sitting there watching it. And I’ll be at the ballpark in person with this homestand I’ll certainly take notice of where it is and all that. But I think for me, you definitely notice a different pace. You know, it’s a little more challenging for TV to show replays, for example, because hey, we’re keeping this thing moving. So you have that element. But for me, I’m so used to looking down at my phone or my laptop as I’m watching a game and I don’t miss anything. But I was finding just sitting in my living room doing that I missed the next pitch because yeah, it’s moving at a quicker pace. But again, that’s not a bad thing. It’s something that is different. The pace is noticeably faster, but not to the point where it’s jarring, not to the point where it’s distracting or feels rushed. And I think that’s the sweet spot there. That’s where I think, and who knows, maybe they’ll ultimately adjust it for the postseason or something. I don’t know. But it feels okay. It feels like the pace certainly faster. But it doesn’t feel like you’re playing speed baseball either
Dennis Koulatsos 23:49
man. But you know, I really feel for you know, let’s say a 15 or 20 year veteran, pitcher or batter and you’re used to doing the same thing all these years and you got you know, you got your craft dialed in, you know when to stall to go into stall mode, whether you’re a pitcher or batter, you got these things that you do to give yourself an advantage and all of a sudden now, the mental aspect of your whole world shifts. That’s me. I’ve been selling cars for 36 years, or I’ve been eating, eating with my right hand all this time. Now I gotta use my left hand. It’s, I feel for some of those guys, because I’m sure some will struggle with with it’s not maybe mightily, but they’ll they’ll struggle with some of the changes.
Luke Jones 24:29
Yeah, but I hear you. I think that’s valid. And I think we’ve even seen some older pitchers even talk about that. But at the end of the day, baseball has always been a game of adjustments. And you can really say that about any sport, really, I mean, you know, coaches and managers I mean, the and the way that analytics and more information drastically changed the way you manage the game the way you coach, the way you try to develop players at the minor league level scouts and executives. I mean, if you’re not using it analytics. And this is a conversation that probably, you know, this point I’m making probably fit better 10 years ago, because everyone’s using it now. But 10 years ago, when you had people that were more old school, it’s like, look, you’re gonna have to get with it, or you’re gonna be left behind. And that’s just reality. So I hear your point. Exactly. I think you’re exactly right. I think it’s something, but at the same time, if you’ve been in it, and you’ve been successful, as long as you have been, or you have resolved, you have some malleability, that you’ve always made adjustments, because that’s how you do it. I mean, you’re not the same pitcher at age 22, as you are in six, or certainly 36, you know, using this example. So, you know, I think it’s a case where, yeah, there’s some adjusting, but I think at the same time, these guys that have been around so long, and they’ve made those adjustments, I guarantee you, they’ll turn what might feel like a disadvantage, at some point in time, they’ll turn that into an advantage. And that goes back to the point we were making that I think it’ll be certain batters, certain pitchers will use this to their advantage. And there have even been some instances where they’ve had to pull back because there have been some pitchers that have tried to quick pitch and do things like that. So, so you know, what’s interesting about
Dennis Koulatsos 26:05
I haven’t seen that yet. I need to Google it. Yeah, yeah. There were a couple guys
Luke Jones 26:09
who did that in spring training. So you know, everyone’s testing the limits right now. Right? I mean, we’ve talked about this with the Patriots for years, how, you know, habitual line stuff, right? Yes, of course. But hey, if there’s not a rule against it, or if it’s something that the rules don’t explicitly explicitly forbid, then yeah, you’re trying to get an edge. I mean, that’s, these guys are all insanely competitive at the end of the day. So yeah, it’s gonna be interesting to see how it ultimately plays out in a big picture sense. All right.
Dennis Koulatsos 26:39
As of right now, this is the longest segment I’ve ever done. In my history of nine plus years, I told you on this tee on on baseball, which is a record and I thank you for that. Want to put you on the spot. Do you have time for another one to talk about another segment to talk about the large luncheon? Yeah, let’s, let’s take a quick break here. Folks hang in there because we have the great Luke Jones. He was at the large luncheon and I’m here as you are. His comments, his perspective, we’ll take a quick break and come back right after this.