Luke Jones and Nestor discuss the opening week of Orioles baseball and how the pitch clock and lack of shifts and pickoffs have had wildly entertaining consequences. Major League Baseball has finally succeeded in making their game better!
game, baseball, people, orioles, point, felt, week, years, opening, pitch, weekend, talking, clock, day, stadium, baltimore, friday, lamar jackson, ballpark, watched
Luke Jones, Nestor Aparicio
Nestor Aparicio 00:01
Welcome back, WN S T, Towson, Baltimore and Baltimore positive reminding you to set us on your little radio dials. We can even number six just as long as we’re in one of those settings at am 1570 out on the radio dial it so it’s great week around here, everything’s Odell Beckham Jr. Instead of Lamar Jackson. I don’t know how we’re going to have any oxygen for postmasters or for the Baltimore Orioles, but we’re going to find it. We’re going to be at Papist on Thursday, doing the Maryland crab cakes right. A lot of winners last week at fade Lee’s and it cost this cost is my god the Maryland lottery bought brought the whole band out. It was awesome. John Martin joins us my friend GG cause he caught up with me and the new UMBC soccer coach Anthony Adams. We had a long long conversation about Dundalk. And Pete Kurinji is a great, great time. That was cost us we were fadeless on Friday for opening day. We’re gonna be at Pappas on Thursday in Bel Air. That’s the new Pappas verbally up in Harford County. I was up there checking that they’re gonna find a little spot from you over the corner the bar because the place is packed. I’ll be there two to five on Thursday. And then we’re Captain Larry’s downtown in Federal Hill on the 27th of the month. We’re going to reschedule families later in the month as well to do a sit down all of it brought to you by our friends at window nation. 866 90 nation to Windows bought two windows free and five years 0% financing. That’s 60 months. That’s a great deal. 866 90 day should Luke Jones joins us now. What does Odell Beckham have to do with the Orioles? Are the masters or the Eagles concert at the CFG Bank Arena? I’ll tell you what, man you were embedded with the Orioles? Last I checked last I checked it was it was just opening day and we still had an old arena. Right. I mean, it’s amazing what a weekend will change around here.
Luke Jones 01:43
No question. I mean, the story at the start of the weekend was opening day and Lamar kind of being on the back burner. Not that it isn’t but just from a mindset of what else is there to talk about at this point in time and he’s locked in the ravens are locked in. We’re still weeks and weeks away even from OTAs to see if he’s going to show up then let alone talking about mini camp or training camp or anything like that. And lo and behold, Odell Beckham Jr. steals the weekend headlines locally now still plenty going on. And the Orioles still play baseball over the weekend. But after the euphoria of a really fun opening day, a victory over the New York Yankees. Kind of a man weekend after that, let’s face it didn’t swing the bats all that terribly well, and didn’t pitch all that terribly well. So he did. He did your favorite player. So you know, but they know they lose two out of three. It’s not the end of the world, but certainly not a series where there was a whole lot to take away that you felt great about. I think there’s still very clearly questions on the pitching side. Even if the pitching wasn’t terrible on Sunday, you know, where Aaron judge gets to sometimes. I mean, there are a lot of teams that can say that, especially after last year, but I think we’re still kind of in that feeling out early, let the season breathe kind of period for the Baltimore Orioles. And there’s been some good, some bad and adding up to a four and five record to over the first nine games is not the end of the world. But certainly not something you’re doing cartwheels over either. But the difference now is after the Yankees leave town, the Oakland Athletics come into town, the one team in baseball with a lower payroll than the Baltimore Orioles and they’re off to a bad start are only averaging about three runs per game. Now they’re on a losing streak. Now they got beat up by Tampa Bay who’s doing that to everyone right now. So this four game set a nice chance for the Orioles to expectations should be when three out of four, win a series against the team that you’re much more talented than and before you go back on the road. So again, underwhelming weekend to say the least when you win the first game of a series, you’d like a chance to win it but obviously the Orioles come up short Saturday and Sunday.
Nestor Aparicio 03:59
I know you’ll find this to be amazing. But there’s photographic evidence and many, many, many witnesses that I was at opening day. So I was floating around and really vibing out the stadium, the experience and it’s fascinating dude because I went to this 30 year old ballpark on Friday left it and then entered this 70 year old you know, 6863 year old I don’t know how many years it’s been like the old the 63 year old building that they’ve refurbed and I’m going to be talking about the refurbishment and everybody that’s down there can experience what used to be here and what currently is there and there’s remnants of what used to be you know, for me, but Camden Yards you know the plague, the remodeling the left field, all of that to be there and experience it when it’s full. Because we were still like feeling the you know all the effects of COVID this time last year to be in Aaron see it’s sort of vibrant. See people see hope. It’s been a lot just I mean, honestly, last time you pointed this out because your your your parting shot last week, which is, it’s the first opening day where people can show up at the ballpark and think, Hey, you might make the playoffs this year if things go right, because we haven’t had that. So feeling all of that and walking the club level, walking, the main level walk in the concourse is walking boots, BBQ, being at the bar, seeing all of that not being able to get anywhere near pickles because the line and this and that and how many people are just there to get drunk? I mean, really, there’s a part of it. That’s the Preakness. I mean, it really is like it’s I saw stumbling vomiting people at two o’clock in the afternoon. But there’s a part of it. That’s a civic like, spring coming in and you want to get going on 80 degrees versus 50. Because I got to wear my jacket. I’m fine with it. You know what I mean? But like they screwed up that’s on them. It’s bad for the city. It was it was a pooch they. It was a decision that took a shot, like Odell Beckham it took a shot. But for the Orioles and for whatever the hope is. I was struck by just the the fact that it’s that it feels like old times because a lot of the faces and change, but it felt like people were watching the game. It felt like people were into it. It felt like people knew gunner Henderson was felt like they were at the Richmond jerseys that we weren’t living on Puig and Brooks.
Luke Jones 06:21
You know, I agree with that. I think it was a good vibe, I think fully acknowledging there were some empty seats here and there, which was going to happen when you postpone opening day, I would shudder to think if they had done if that if that scenario had played out in last year, or the year before was COVID restricted.
Nestor Aparicio 06:40
The Devil Rays because honestly, the Yankees inflated that ticket, the ticket prices were still high at 100 bucks to get in on Friday, because Yankee fans were buying them. There was another fan base there.
Luke Jones 06:51
But the but my overall point is I mean, let’s face it, we talked about what opening day looked like last year, we talked about what it looked like on 2000 in 2019. And they can announce it was a sellout. We know it wasn’t it. This felt like it was a much more legitimate sellout. Yeah, there were empty seats on Friday. Part of it is to your point. It’s there’s some amateur hour going on where some people don’t even make it into the ballpark college kids and all that. Look, you know, people have Preakness stories, people have stories of their own when they in their younger days,
Nestor Aparicio 07:18
pressing any day in the history of Baltimore, period, period. I mean, with the stadium there and, and it moving to that day and the Yankees being here and Springsteen being I mean, I wanted to go drink it in, you know, just walk around. And I didn’t care about the game, to be honest with you. I was much more interested in the what’s going on here. What’s happening for my city? What What is this man Baltimore positive? What does this mean? I’ve been doing this for 31 years, I was there before the stadium open. So what does it mean? What does it mean to the young people? Or what does it mean for your niece? I say that a lot. Because I mean it. Yeah,
Luke Jones 07:53
I mean, I think there’s excitement I said this. And you really started seeing in this last year, even if it wasn’t showing up in terms of the attendance looking all that impressive. But from the moment Adley rutschman arrived last May, you started seeing and and my sample that I’m looking at is the lower seating bowl in front of the press box, which is of course right behind the home plate. And so you know, that’s not you know, the price point for those seats compared to someone sit in the upper deck, which is where I sat growing up, and you know, even well into my 20s and everything, it’s a little bit different, but you could just see that a little bit of a shift. There were fewer old Manny Machado and Adam Jones and certainly going back on you still see cow and Brooks jerseys.
Nestor Aparicio 08:34
I recognize the Palmer’s when I say, you’re always gonna see,
Luke Jones 08:37
you’re always gonna see that and that’s fine. Like you should just like you still see Ray Lewis jerseys at ravens games. Yeah, and Ray has been retired for a decade. But you are seeing more of certainly Adley rutschman You’re seeing a few more Gunnar Henderson shirts. You know, you’re we’ve seen Mullins a little bit of the last couple of years in terms of fans having the shirts, but you do get the sense. And you got the sense on Friday that there was enthusiasm and we said it. I mean, even though 2018 Technically going into the season, there was still some semblance of thought that they might still be decent one more year even though that was Machado and Adam Jones contract year. But now this is the first time really since probably 2016 17 When you enter the season really having some positive vibes not that they’re going to win the World Series, but they’ve got a really good shot at making the playoffs. And the idea, maybe this is the what better way to describe it. The idea that they’re now in ascending team at that point, even 2016. They were still trying to hold on right. They’re still trying to recreate what they did in 14 when they won the Division. So for the first time in a while, you had that vibe and I think it was a good atmosphere. I mean, it’s a good it was a good ball game on Friday. I mean remote or ESPN the hero with the go ahead RBI double when he makes a really nice play on the double play in the eighth inning to protect To lead. So you know that that was fun. And although they didn’t build on it Saturday and Sunday, you still look at opening day in its totality. Yeah. The decision was unfortunate. We talked about it even when it happened that there, there’s, you’re not going to please everyone, no matter what you decide here, and there is a chance when you try to be proactive with the weather, I mean, to Chesapeake Bay. We know the weather changes very, very quickly. So I do
Nestor Aparicio 10:27
see, every day where people could have gotten drunk and drenched and had a good time, even if the game didn’t go off. It was such an on Peter like decision, right? Like, yeah, it’s gonna be 80 degrees. And the thunderstorms aren’t coming until game time, maybe. Let’s just let people come up, go downtown and have a good time. And if it rains, it rains. And we’ll just bang the game and just have less people show up on Friday. But at least give people the experience. Like that’s the part of it. Look, I didn’t pitch about it. I didn’t even pitch about it on social media, whatever. I you know how I felt about it. I enjoyed an 80 degree day on Thursday without having to go to the ballgame. Right? So I went down there with a jacket on 150. And I, I took what they gave me because I because I’m a peasant. And they’re kings, right. I mean, I took what they gave me, but they they screwed themselves into kind of well, you know, it’s a shame, you know, I mean, but it wasn’t a shame, because if you were down there for the day was Springsteen and stuff. It was a great memory. It really was.
Luke Jones 11:22
Yeah, I would probably describe it as unfortunate as much as anything, right? Again, there’s no perfect decision you’re making in that kind of a situation. And maybe you know that maybe they learned their lesson that you don’t do the overly proactive thing, because it is Baltimore and you don’t know what the weather is good at
Nestor Aparicio 11:39
80 degree day all day anyway, you knew that. And I was like, I’ll take that. I’ll sign me up for that. And if it rains, it rains. You know what I mean?
Luke Jones 11:45
Well, but keep in mind, in fairness, there, there had been some concerns with the forecast that not just rain, but some severe weather, you know, some severe storms again, we can, you know, people are gonna bash that because people want to complain about something and I get it. It’s unfortunate, it stinks that it turned out the way that it did. But to your point, Friday was still a good day, even if it wasn’t quite as warm. And even if I was bundled up with a jacket and a sweater in the press box, but I think you just look at what opening day was in its totality, it really did represent a real signal of hope, in terms of some optimism for this club, some optimism for the future, to your point that the Springsteen concert being that night, I think it really did speak to Baltimore, having some extra juice and energy that, frankly, it needed. We talked about this on the heels of all the Lamar drama and just not knowing what’s going to happen there. I mean, with the ravens, being at this very strange inflection point, it’s nice to have some other things to be excited about on the sports landscape, or the entertainment landscape with the arena and Springsteen and, you know, all the shows going on there. So it was fun. It was a good weekend in that way. Again, you would have liked to have taken one of these last two to win a series, but they didn’t pitch great, and they didn’t swing the bats particularly well. And when you’re going up against the New York Yankees, you got to play better than that. But again, losing two out of three in the big picture doesn’t change the, you know, the direction of the season or anything like that just kind of play a little bit better. And your hope you got a chance to do that. And oh, by the way, as we’re talking about events, giving people some juice, Grayson Rodriguez first HomeStart on Tuesday night, they’re giving out T shirts or Grayson Rodriguez T shirts, even like it’s a Tuesday night against Oakland, I’m guessing the ballparks not gonna be sold out by any stretch of the imagination. But I do think that will be an interesting case study right there to see what the juice actually is. Opening Day. It’s like Preakness it’s an event. I mean, even the years where the Oreos have been lousy, they still have whether it’s a sellout or not. They still have a lot of people there. But a Tuesday night against the Oakland A’s in April. That’ll be interesting to see what kind of crowd they draw, knowing that Grayson Rodriguez is starting. There’s been a few days in advance here, unlike the Richmond situation that we talked about last year where, you know, they waited to the morning have to announce he was making his debut. So, you know, is that a game where? I don’t know? Do you get 25,000 people to show up on a night where if you’re playing Oakland and April, you’re wondering if it’s gonna be 9000 people, you get 25,000 to show up for grace and Rodriguez on Tuesday night then then we might be having a different conversation about just how much juice there is for the Orioles. So I’m not saying that will definitely happen. But we’ve we’ve been talking about Grayson for several years now. So for him to be making his first start at Camden Yards. I will be interested to see what that crowd looks like on Tuesday night and again, I think that will be a peek behind the curtain of just how much juice there is for the Orioles beyond saying hey, let’s go out on opening day they’re going to be decent this year. We’ll drink some beers and have some fun
Nestor Aparicio 15:00
Well, I would say this. I ran into Bill Henry controller, Bill Henry. And he said to me, just going into the stadium is a great politician thing to say. But it was kind of true. He’s like, we’re finally getting the city we deserve. You know what I mean? To some degree, we could come downtown and have, as a friend of mine would say, we can have nice things. We could have a good baseball team. We can have Odell Beckham you know, we can have a football team. I remember 30 years ago, can’t we just get an NFL team? Can’t we just Yeah, okay. Can we just get Jimmy key and BJ surhoff And Roberto Alomar to sign here. And you know, there’s definitely a point about it where the stadium the fans where it is Little John coming out and addressing people last week, the fact that there’s a new day where every time Adly rushman takes the bat, you feel like you’re seeing something special, and you did on Sunday, they lost. But they people saw something on Easter Sunday, if they brought their mom did the game right? For the team itself and her pitching and for the way the game is being played and for the way that maybe this team is being built to run the bases a little bit in an era where the pitch clock thing is whacked out catchers, it’s whacked out pitchers, I can’t imagine. Look, the one thing that really occurred to me, and I said this being in the stadium when was full the other day was in a big game in September. Here somewhere where the stadium gets loud, and I don’t even know where that is anymore. I mean, I did 30 ballparks in 30 days, it’s been eight years ago. Now, most of the stadiums aren’t full. Most of them aren’t loud. But if it becomes Venezuelan or Cuban baseball, or even Korean and Japanese baseball, where it’s loud, where it’s just loud, not like golf, which we watched, but where the guide, I saw that the Guardians honored. The fellow who bang the drum out in Cleveland in the outfield for many years, there was mortalized, the major league and all that. If there’s, I bet a stadium that could get under a pitcher. And I think about who’s your daddy with Pedro Martinez. And I think about Edie. And you know, the rocking, raucous part of baseball that doesn’t exist. It’s old, it’s white, it’s tired. That yellow after a homerun. Maybe when there’s two strikes, you can get people off, but there’s only 11,000 people in the stadium. I’m talking about where your acid is fried. And it’s 45,000 fans at Yankee Stadium breathing down on you and you’ve got a pitch clock. I just think it’s really going to change the dynamic of crowded games. And what it’s already done. And I know you and Dennis did an hour on baseball Thursday, and most of the wasn’t Orioles are nasty Nestor pitching or how’s Aaron judge or they didn’t get off season help or whatever it is, it’s the game is different to to put it on on Sunday, they’re in the fifth inning an hour into it’s like, wow, they get the ball back and they pitch and they get the ball back. And they the pace. Everything about it is different in the first week. And I’ve noticed that
Luke Jones 18:05
it really is. I mean, it was noticeable even during spring training, I think people who take in minor league baseball, and it’s seen some of these principles introduced to on a on a test, you know, on a case study basis and baseball did their homework, I saw Theo Epstein, who is working for the commissioner working for the league and advising. He did a podcast with Jason Stark last week. It was it was great. I listened to his over an hour. And he kind of went bullet point by bullet point, all the different rule changes, and even talking about what could be coming in the future to automated strike zone and you know that they’ve as much as baseball is, you know, I’ve been so frustrated with how reactive it’s typically been with just about everything. Some of these rule changes, I think I will credit them that I feel like they have done their homework in kind of anticipating how it’s gonna look and it is different. It’s not so different that it feels rushed. Although to your scenario you lay out come September if you’re in a pennant race, and you’re playing in Yankee Stadium or a sold out Fenway or wherever, and you need to win a ballgame. Yeah, there’s gonna be a little little more juice on the pitcher with a clock involved. But I think what we’re finding is one, it’s evident at the time of game average time of game across baseball is down and it’s down substantially. It’s been roughly half hours. So you know, even going back to spring training, it was evident from the first day of spring, grapefruit and cactus league action, but so so you have the app, but I think what makes it good is it’s not so fast that it’s distracting or feels rushed, but it does feel different. I can say on Friday, that was my first in person game of the season having watched a Major League Baseball game in person for the first time in 2023. I watched the clock early on a little bit just to kind of want I wanted to see where it was from a fan standpoint, you know from a media standpoint, but you watch it. But guess what happens after a few batters, then novelty wears off really quickly. And you kind of just get into watching the game like you always have. Now, what that said, I do notice a quicker pace, it is noticeable. For example, if you’re looking down at your laptop or looking down at your phone between pitches, you find that you’re missing something right. Before you know the dirt out of his cleats. It totally is. It totally is. So you have that. So you notice that and the other thing I noticed and again, sitting behind home plate, it’s my perspective as a media member, but anyone in the ballpark when you’re watching in person, rather than just seeing that centerfield camera that you see on a mass and telecasts or ESPN or whatever. You absolutely also do notice the shifts gone. It looks like baseball, how it used to look prior to 10 years ago when shifting took over. And as much as I was a little more reluctant on that part of it. Not because aesthetically, I liked the shift. But I don’t think anyone liked the shift from an optics standpoint. But I did dislike the idea that were stifling intellect, right teams put in a heck of a lot of work, to research where the batted balls, were going for any given batter, and then positioning their their defense appropriately. But I think you see that and we’ve seen that batting average for balls being put in play is up. We’re seeing more singles, balls up the middle that were always hits for 100 years and suddenly weren’t anymore over the last 10 years. Our hits again, cost me my round balls to play again. Yeah, I don’t know if I go that far. But certainly it had an impact on it. There’s no question about that. So I like that. I like it. I think the I think these changes are I think it’s a pause. Look, that’s not to say that it’s perfect, I don’t think you’re going to have any rule change and not have some unintended consequence that could creep up at some point. And you you just laid it out when the games grow more intense. In August and September and certainly into October, you do wonder what kind of an impact it could have. However, what I will say in response to that is these guys, and especially talking about younger guys, and you made mention that the Orioles with you know just the running game as part of it. But you have a team, a younger team that these guys kind of grew up in the minor leagues the last couple years with some of these things being introduced. So I think my point is, you’re going to see players that are much more accustomed and used to the pace that the pitch timer creates the style play that’s being created by limiting the shift at this point in time. So
Nestor Aparicio 22:50
the way your dad and I taught us I really generally right.
Luke Jones 22:54
In that. And that’s the thing. It’s so funny, because and you and I’ve debated this at different times about different topics in baseball, right? I I’m a traditional guy like, you know, I don’t want to see the game changing the something that I don’t recognize anymore. You know, I’m still not a big fan of the runner on second base and extra innings. I’m just not. I’d like to see that at least, you know, push that back to the 12th inning, at the very least. So we can have a couple normal extra innings. But yeah, that points that point aside. For those that are purists. And the idea of a clock you cringe because baseball, the beauty of it was what it had no clock right compared to the other sports. Well, that’s what you’ve been saying all these years. That’s the beauty about change. Yeah, it is. However, what we have to acknowledge is that game that you’re longing for talking about 20 years ago, 30 years ago, 40 years ago, had gotten so much slower. Since that point in time, societies gotten and life has gotten quicker. But baseball continued to get slower and slower and slower. So what the what the clock has done. And again, it’s not a perfect fit, because they’re still at the end of the day. They’re still selling commercials, right? They’re still, they’re still there time in between innings that’s longer than it was 50 years ago. But they have been able to speed up the game. They’ve increased the action, few more base hits. Now, look, the strikeout thing, the three true outcomes. homerun walk strikeout, that’s still something that is part of the discussion, in terms of what you’re going to do long term if you can maybe curtail that a little bit and have a little more action. But I think what you’re seeing is your stinking a game that’s kind of returning to where it was 30 or 40 years ago. It just needed a catalyst to do that. You know, we always talk about a leadoff hitter being a catalyst, right, you know, jumpstart your offense, the clocks kind of jump starting, getting back to where it was that you don’t have these extraordinary lols in between pitches and these at bats that are lasting a few minutes and you’re going six or seven minutes without the ball being put in play. I mean that that wasn’t good. And for those of us who love baseball, you know, we can, we can let go of the idea of not having a clock, if you actually give it a chance, and you realize, it’s not really that it’s not all that distracting, but it has led to a better pace. And look, if we were seeing six or seven pitch timer violations per game, that would be a little more extreme. But you know what it’s kind of, it’s, it’s kind of feels like a delay a game in football, it happens. Once a game, you know, on average, you know, it’s not something that you’re seeing multiple times. Although some people that watch the Greg Roman offense last few years might beg to differ. But it’s leading to a better brand of baseball. And if you love the sport, if you truly love the game of baseball, and even love it today, and didn’t have nearly as many issues with it, as maybe a lot of folks did, if we can acknowledge, making a couple changes here making a couple tweaks that are going to make the game better, make it more appealing to young kids, that’s going to make the game better in the long run. And ultimately, if you love the game, you want to see it continue to thrive in the long term. And I do think these changes that have been implemented are going to help them do that. It’s not the last thing and my goodness, we can talk all day and continue to talk about blackout restrictions and the future of Rs NS and streaming and all those different things not just in Baltimore but league wide. But I do think what they’ve done here in 2023 is a really nice start to making the game better.
Nestor Aparicio 26:23
Well, they couldn’t move the fence back, you know, another 50 feet on Aaron judge, he can hit it out of Yellowstone over the weekend. Yeah, I still think they made a mistake on St. Nestor. I do you know I think that that that’s been borne out for them to see Oakland and where they are right now this is you’ll get beaten up on by the Yankees whatever, a couple games here and there. I still feel very engaged in what they’re doing because I feel like they’re relevant again. And it’s it’s taken a long time but they are relevant again. And we will hope to be relevant again here this week as the Masters is over and the Odell Beckham and Lamar Jackson sweepstakes begin here and Spring has sprung and the Orioles are home and hope everybody’s enjoying the good weather out there. We’re gonna be doing the Maryland crab cake tour at Pappas on Thursday in Bel Air Harford County. Come on up say hello be giving away the instant lottery throwback tickets. We had a bunch of winners fade these on Friday and it cost us last Wednesday at a beautiful conversation it cost us with small friends also brought John Martin and PETA Pete and family came by and we took a nod at 50 years for the Maryland lottery also our friends at window nation 866 90 nation you buy two you get two free five years 0% financing. That is a great deal. Dennis’s tech service was off over the weekend from coons Ford on Sunday night on Easter night with our Odell Beckham who knows what is next here this week. But I know Luke cash covered on the baseball side, the football side the draft coming in a couple of weeks and I’m sure more on Lamar Jackson and certainly more on the Orioles as they’re now firing away. We are wn sta and 5070 towels to Baltimore and we never stop talking Baltimore positive