For a complete replay of today’s call – MLB Postseason on TBS
Craig Barry on TBS’ coverage of the 2013 MLB Postseason: “We’re very excited for the start of the MLB Postseason and couldn’t be more pleased with our announcer teams and production updates that we have assembled, both for our game and studio coverage.
“As you may know, we have a deep roster of talent with four great commentator teams covering the Division Series and, of course, our all new studio team. We believe Ron [Darling] and Cal [Ripken] joining Ernie [Johnson] in the booth will provide the dynamic, compelling listen for the Wild Card Game all the way through the NLCS with a great pitcher and hitter dynamic. We will also debut our brand-new studio team with Pedro Martinez, Tom Verducci and Keith Olbermann.
“In addition to the lineup of commentators, we are also unveiling a few new technologies, one of which is the first time use of what we refer to as a “Truss Cam,” a camera that sits [just beyond] the outfield wall, with anywhere from 125-300 feet of track. This camera will provide us a lot of dynamic movement as we are covering the game, ultimately creating a better experience for the fan and new angles [for TBS] to televise the game. Also, we have the phantom cam, which we refer to as “TBS Total Motion.” This camera has the ability to capture 3,000 frames-per-second. This is a great analyst tool to see the release of the ball from a pitcher, the spin of the contact on the bat, and we plan to be seeing a lot of this at the remotes and in the studio as well.”
Ripken predicts the Los Angeles Dodgers will win the National League: “It almost appears to be the Dodgers’ year. They seem to have an energy and a magic. Maybe it’s [Yasiel] Puig, maybe its [Hanley] Ramirez coming in and really stabilizing the team with his play, but the Dodgers seem to have a little magic and those two hot pitchers [Kershaw and Greinke].”
Ripken predicts the Detroit Tigers will win the American League: “I like the Detroit [Tigers] coming out of the American League. The Red Sox have had a really good season, and they could win as well, but Detroit has a good starting [pitching] staff and the ability to score runs.”
Darling on the Dodgers’ postseason outlook: “They are definitely the wild card team that is not a wild card. They are so talented. With the postseason format, in a five game series, you have to have those high-end pitchers that can take away contact. You have certain pitchers that take the hitters out of play. [Clayton] Kershaw and [Zack] Greinke are two of those guys. In a short series, that makes the Dodgers a very tough opponent. That being said, the Dodgers offense is good, [but] you can’t substitute for two outstanding pitchers. When Kershaw is at his best, he’s just about unhittable.”
Ripken on the Dodgers: “The Dodgers are a hot team. It does concern me that they haven’t played meaningful games. Sometimes you have to ask yourself, ‘Can you flip the switch on at the right time?’ Overall, they proved they can be a really hot team and play really well together [and] those two, hot pitchers [Kershaw and Greinke] at the top of the rotation give [the Dodgers] a great chance to go deep into the playoffs. I like the Dodgers moving on [to the NLCS].”
Darling on Dodgers third baseman Juan Uribe: “The guy to look for that could be kind of a wild card is third baseman Juan Uribe, who’s had a solid second half. We know what [Uribe] can do in the postseason. We saw it in 2010 with the [San Francisco] Giants. Here is a guy who has performed on a high level, on a high stage during the playoffs. I think he’s the guy that could be a wild card for that offense.”
Darling on the Boston Red Sox: “Boston has a lot of different ways to beat you. They played a lot of the summer without [Clay] Buchholz, who is going to play a big part [in the postseason]. [Buchholz] is on that level of [Zack] Greinke and [Clayton] Kershaw when he is on.
Ripken on the Red Sox: “It’s been an amazing turnaround from one year to the next. When you talk about chemistry and culture, you look at a really good team last year that couldn’t get it together. [Manager] John Farrell came in and helped fix the two guys at the top, [Clay] Buchholz and [Jon] Lester, that started this whole thing moving. They are a confident team [that] can win in many different ways. They’re a magical team that can win in the last at bat.”
Ripken on Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia: “I like Dustin Pedroia’s leadership and the way he sees the game. It’s almost like a Derek Jeter in the middle of that lineup. [Pedroia] is very important.”
Darling on the Oakland Athletics: “The Oakland [Athletics] have had two fantastic years and you would love to see them showcase all of this talent that we are just learning about now.”
Darling on the Pittsburgh Pirates: “I like their chances. I think they are another team that is [going into the Postseason] hot. If they go deep into the playoffs, their ballpark might be the 10th man, and that’s an amazing thing. Pittsburgh has been so starved for so long that they have excitement there that might really lift their team up. I knew they had a lot of talent…this year they were able to finish it off. I’m excited for Pittsburgh and I hope they get a home game for the playoffs. They’ve had a magical season.”
Ripken on the Pirates: “I would have never thought we would be talking about them in the playoffs; I was hoping for a .500 season. They are doing a lot of things right and rebuilding in the right way. As the season went on, you start to see the talent and the depth that they had developed. I think they have a legitimate chance in the playoffs. AJ Burnett is throwing the ball well, his leadership has been very good. Gerrit Cole has a very live arm, a power arm and you can’t forget about [Francisco] Liriano…I like them picking up Justin Morneau and Marlon Byrd with their experience. They give them some depth and a chance to score some runs. They’re a balanced team, I like their chances.”
Darling on the Texas Rangers’ late season struggles: “The Texas Rangers have been so good for so long. What I see is they were one pitch, one out, one catch away from celebrating, only to having their hearts broken. Occasionally, what happens is it makes it difficult to recapture that magical moment…That’s what you’re going against. You’re going against that karma, whatever it is that baseball gives you where you have that moment and it passes you by. Then you start to question, ‘That was our moment. I knew we were going to have more moments, but that was ours and we let it pass by.’”
Darling on Tampa Bay Rays rookie Wil Myers: “When I watch him hit, he reminds me of Bamm-Bamm [from the Flintstones]. That’s how he hits. He kind of stands in there and dares you to throw it over the dish. He doesn’t even follow through, and has a swing that just pounds it. In this day and age, where you have a lot of guys that have perfect swings, Wil Myers seems to see it and hit it.”
Ripken on the importance of a team going into the postseason on a hot streak: “It is all about how you are playing when you go into the playoffs. We make a big deal about wild card teams that are battling it out until the end, and they ride their momentum into the playoffs. The game is about some streaks. Sometimes when you are playing really cold, the playoffs become a new starting point for you. A team that is playing well, is confident and their pitching is going well is what you need in playoffs. If you match that with playoff experience, so now the playoffs aren’t new for you, then you really have something.”
Darling on hypothetically changing the Wild Card format to a best-of-three series: “That’s a good idea. I think it’s very difficult to play like the Rays and Indians have played [down the stretch] and have a one-and-done situation. I think that the days off that are scheduled in the postseason would be nonexistent and that’s alright. Watching the St. Louis and Atlanta [NL Wild Card Game] last year and seeing the infield fly rule being a big part of that game and having Atlanta having to go home, that’s a tough pill to swallow. The fairness of it all would be nice if they played the best two out of three.”
Ripken: I really like the one-game [Wild Card] playoffs. You’re expanding the playoffs to add another team which affects a lot of people down the stretch…We all love the excitement of a Game 7 mentality…I firmly believe that a wild card team should be a little handicapped. There should be a value for winning that division.”
Ripken on the difference between managing in the regular season and the postseason: “When you get to the playoffs you shorten the depth of your teams or you might expand the role of a closer. You have to be willing to start making more urgent decisions. The manager does play a role in the outcome of a series with how he makes decisions and how long he sticks with his pitchers. Many managers try to manage like it’s the regular season but I think there’s a danger to that. I think you really have to think more urgently than you do in the regular season.”
Darling on managers utilizing more “small ball” strategy in the postseason: “If you have this big power lineup and you score most of your runs during the regular season by hitting home runs, those tend to dry up a little in the postseason because you’re facing the best pitchers. That’s why I think you’ll see managers using the hit-and-run and trying to do some stuff small ball variety. Those are the kind of things I think managers will do.”
Ripken on the importance of having home field advantage during the Wild Card Games: “Both teams who won [Wild Card Games] last year were road teams. I know when you play in big games, there is pressure that starts to mount. Many times if the road team scores first and then it’s the sixth inning and you have a one run lead, the pressure starts to build on the team that is behind. In a weird way, home field advantage doesn’t matter as much in the one game situation.”
Darling on a manager’s mentality in a Wild Card Game: “You manage it like it’s a Game 7. You do everything you have to and answer questions later. If you’re watching your team and you see a pitcher that might not be performing his best, you would never take him out in the second inning of a regular season game but [in the postseason] it doesn’t look right, so you go get him. Those are the hard decisions that a manager has to make in the postseason.”
Ripken on managers needing to have a good sense of their team in the postseason: “Managers have to keep in mind, ‘How did we get here? What is the nucleus of our team?’ You don’t want to make changes just for the sake of making changes. Keep in mind that the pitching will be tougher. Maybe you do bunt earlier. I like the hit-and-run as a play because, by putting someone in motion, you can create a first-and-third situation, which takes a lot of pressure off the offense. Maybe you play a little ‘small ball’ to get a lead. I would avoid any drastic changes in your lineup. You’re a good team so you have to avoid being too radical. [Rays manager] Joe Maddon is radical with his defensive alignments and he’s not afraid to do things but he has a real good sense of his team.”
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