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June 18, 2024 60 mins

In this episode of 'The Book of Joe' Podcast, Joe Maddon and Tom Verducci analyze the five pitch game of the Pirates' Paul Skenes.  Joe looks at Skenes delivery and what the team should be looking for during each start.  Mookie Betts is injured being hit by a pitch, which leads to the question of pitching inside and intentionally targeting a player.  You need to hear Joe's answer!  Tom is anxiously awaiting the game at Rickwood Field this week and explains the historical significance and impact of the ballpark.

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Speaker 1 (00:04):
The Book of Joe Podcast is a production of iHeartRadio.
Hey there, welcome back. It's the Book of Joe Podcast
with me, Tom Berducci and of course Joe Madden. Joe,
we got a lot to get into as the season,
believe it or not, is starting to approach the halfway point.

(00:27):
Crazy how fast the season goes. But here we are
heading towards the All Star Game. A lot of topics
I want to get into today. I want to talk
about an epidemic that is claiming some of the stars
of Major League Baseball. I want to talk about one
of the most important regular season games coming up that
Baseball has maybe ever staged. But I want to start

(00:49):
with a real phenom. We throw that word around a lot, Joe,
but when it comes to Paul Skeins and what he's
doing on the mound right now, he is every bit
as good as advertised, if not more so. Of course,
the number one pick out of LSU for the Pittsburgh
Pirates has made seven starts in the major leagues and
he's just the second pitcher ever in those seven starts

(01:12):
to go undefeated with fifty or more strikeouts. He's got
fifty three and seven starts the other Masihiro Tanaka for
the Yankees, And of course he had been pitching in
Japan for six or seven years before he came over here,
so maybe it's not quite analogous as a guy stepping
out of college on a major league field and absolutely dominating.

(01:32):
Here's what's interesting to me, Joe Paul Skiings can throw
a ball one hundred miles an hour. His average fastball
is over ninety nine miles an hour. It's just crazy
fast for a starting pitcher, and yet he throws his
fastball forty percent of the time. Now he does throw
that splinker. It's a hybrid of a sinker and a split,

(01:54):
and I guess you'd call it a off speed pitch
because it is a splitter, as some of the tracking
firms notice that that's what they call it. But it
is a good hard firm ninety three, so you know
that's the average fastball is ninety three ninety four. But
forty fastballs forest seemers for a guy who throws one hundred. Joe,

(02:15):
I mean, this is where the game is going, and
this guy's got five pitches, like five legit pitches. You've
got a good fastball. That point now is you don't
need to throw it a lot. Tell me what you
see about pitching and especially the high velocity guys. And
it used to be established a fastball and work off
of it, and now it's almost been inverted where it

(02:36):
is quote unquote pitching backward.

Speaker 2 (02:39):
Yeah, first of all, you I mean that was going
to be My observation is that he pitches so well.
Those numbers are so good because of that splitter hybrid
that he throws. That pitch to me, is his biggest
swing and mispitch. That's the one that makes the hitters
go back to the dugout shaking their heads. I watched
a little bit of them yesterday and it just dives

(02:59):
and it dives underneath the right handed hitters, and he
could throw it for a strike. It almost seems like
that's his best strike throwing pitch, his slider. He just
really tries to dot the outside edge down. If he misses,
he's okay with that and his fastball. Yeah, it's one
hundred miles an hour, but it's just utilized on occasion
to set everything else up. That's what I'm seeing with him,

(03:20):
So I'm always apprehensive a little bit to use that
splitter so often and having your fingers split so much.
To throw that pitch always bothered me with young pitchers
and the minor leagues. I had guys back in the day,
and they can get a lot of guys out early
with that pitch, but eventually it could break down the arm.

(03:42):
Just I don't want to be like Doom and Gloom
by any means, but to throw that pitch so often
bothers me a little bit. Because he has such a
great fastball. He's got the nice breaking ball too, so
hopefully that doesn't play out. But I've always had concern
about young pitchers, like older guys that have not been
able to be successful. They found them up with a
splitter and it keeps him in the big leagues, makes
them successful. That's one thing. The young guy's doing that often.

(04:05):
I've always had a little bit of concern, and I've
seen slow motion. It looks like he doesn't split his
fingers that much on that pitch, which would be good.
But then again, I'm always a little bit concerned. Having
said all that, we're talking about the proliferation of the
breaking ball, but there's still some hitters out there that
can't catch up with velocity and getting a high level
of velocity. And I guess I heard about Alonso saying

(04:28):
more velocity. I know Mike Trott had been seeing more velocity.
So that comes down to scouting. That's why analytics really
shines because they can pinpoint what a hitter is really
not doing a whole lot of damage. With a guy
that's not catching up with fastball, he throw him a
breaking ball stripe for the typical slider batspeed kind of
stuff that all of a sudden you're throwing the guy
at bat fastball permitting him to catch up. And I've

(04:50):
always had issues with that, So I think analytics permits
to identify, Yes, go with the fastball right here, don't
throw them a breaking ball, even it's definitely not a
strike breaking ball because he's going to hit it. But specifically,
I just would be a little concern with that over usage,
only because of my history scene stuff like that. But
I'm here to tay it's an outstanding pitch. I'm not

(05:12):
denigrating that. It's just a long term situation for me.

Speaker 1 (05:15):
Yeah, that is a great pitch. And by the way,
you made a great point here about how pitching now
and it probably always has been in terms of scouting reports,
but to me, it's more detailed than ever Joe and
how to attack hitters and where their weakness weaknesses are
and how to shape pitches to attack those weaknesses. And
Paul Skeenes was doing that in college. You know, he
had Wes Johnson as his pitching coach at LSU, and

(05:38):
Wes had been with the Minnesota Twins for two and
a half years and he really was developed as a
pro pitcher in college. In terms of breaking hitters down.
You think college baseball, it's basically it's pretty close to
darn Triple A. But in terms of prep work, they
go at it like major leaguers. I mean the technology
as such, and there's so many college games that are
videotaped and they have track man at LSU, so you

(06:00):
know exactly the spin rates and the arcy and movement
on your pitches. You know, he's been doing all those things,
and I think because he has five pitches, he's able
to do that in the big leagues and it's second
nature to him now. He does a lot of homework.
He's into that side of the game as most young
pitchers are now. So he's taking advantage of that, there's
no question about that. What's interesting to me I mentioned
the under fifty percent fastball is if you go back

(06:23):
as recently as twenty seventeen, talking about hard throwers pitchers
who averaged ninety six and above, there was not a
single starting pitcher who threw ninety six and above who
didn't use his fastball at least fifty percent of the time.
Last year, there were twelve starting pitchers who averaged ninety
six and above. Those are elite throwers who are using

(06:45):
their fastball less than half the time, and Skins is
doing that now. But you have guys like Grayson Rodriguez,
Shane McClanahan, Jesus Lozardo, Yordy Perez, Cole Reagan's Shoe Otani,
who's a guy when he was healthy using his fastball
less than half the time. So this is where the
game is going. And I think it's mostly about attacking

(07:06):
hitters now and the way that they can now shape
secondary pitches to attack hitter swings, and Skeins is doing
a great job of that. One more thing on Skins
when we talk about his pitch mix, and I know
everybody loves the one hundred miles an hour and we're
fascinated when we get the triple digits and the velocity
in the reguar gun. His fastball, other than being really fast,

(07:28):
it's kind of average Joe. It really is. When you
break it down and the way he throws. He does
not throw like a pure four seen power guy, like
a Garrett Cole. He's a short strider. He gets under
the ball a little bit. His extension is not great.
Where we are having a high perceived velocity where the
fastball plays up, it does not have much run on it.

(07:49):
We look at the vertical movement, his fastball actually has
better horizontal movement than it has vertical movement. So to me,
he's not a guy who's going to live with that
fastball as a big swing and miss pitch. So I
think exactly the way he's using it now Joe is
the right way, and that it's not his primary pitch
because to me, it's just not good enough. It's not

(08:12):
here it is hit it. But if you get deep
into account and now you're expecting that split and that
fastball hold is playing at the bottom of the zone,
as we saw against Cincinnati on Monday night, hitters are
going to take it for strike three. It's almost pitching
backwards for a guy who throws a hundred.

Speaker 2 (08:26):
It's the threat of throwing a hundred that makes the
other pitches really good too, So you have to be
set mentally, regardless of all the other peripheral numbers they're
regarding squad length, et cetera. One hundred is one hundred,
so you still have to get set up mentally for that.
And that really means like hitter's got to get loaded
and ready early, and with that that could also make

(08:47):
the split and this slider even a more effective pitch.
So all these things conspire to make his other pitches
even better. I'm just curious though, and again regarding what
you just said about this fastball and all the peripheries
about it. Still I mean, it's one hundred is one hundred. Now, Listen,
I've been around guys that throw that hard too, that
something get turned around a lot more often than you

(09:08):
would think, So there's something to that. Seeing the ball
easily up in his own but not up and enough
that he gets over the bat, no real ride to
the pitch, that kind of stuff. But nevertheless, I one
hundred is one hundred, So I think that regardless I mean,
but his his flitter has got that great of a movement.
But the fact that you got to be set up
mentally for that heart of a fastball is working in

(09:31):
his favorite Now, let's go into the season right now,
and as he gets through these teams the second time around,
see if there's any adjustments to be made, because it's
I've always was concerned with young pitchers relying on breaking
ball primarily to get guys out and how that eventually
has hitters see them more often, how that plays. So listen,

(09:52):
He's a fabulous talent, great stuff, strong looking kid, seems
like a great guy. But I just want to see
what happens the next time through.

Speaker 1 (09:59):
Yeah, I think what's impressive about him though, Joe is
and I agree with you, the test is as it
always is with young players second time around, right, and
I think I've what I've seen so far this early
on seven starts. He does use five pitches, so I
think he has multiple ways to get hitters out. If
something's not working, he can go somewhere else. You make

(10:21):
a great point about the velocity, even though the properties
on the fastball are not like eye popping, but the
fact that a hitter has to gear up for one hundred.
You must respect that velocity, and you'll have guys commit early,
and that's why you're going to get some misses on
some of the off speed stuff. But you look at
the way he releases a baseball, and you know he's

(10:41):
not totally behind the baseball. The spin when it comes
off his hand on a clock, it's about between one
and two, like one five. You know, he's not between
twelve and one. So that's why he's going to have
more horizontal than vertical movement on that fastball. But again,
it's one hundred miles an hour. He's built like a
brick house, you know. I think he's built to pitch

(11:03):
deep in the games.

Speaker 2 (11:03):
Now.

Speaker 1 (11:03):
Of course the Pirates aren't letting him do that. He's
averaging ninety four pitches per start. One more thing on
the v low. I'd like to get your take on this, Joe.
Looking at his fastball by innings. Okay, his highest velocity
is in the first inning. He averages over one hundred
in the first inning, and with each inning it goes

(11:25):
down slightly, so when he gets to the fifth or
sixth inning, he's down to ninety eight. That would concern
me only from this point of view. You know, I've
talked with biomechanical people who say the best way to
stay healthy if you're a hard thrower is to modulate
your velocity. It's something that Justin Verlander learned how to do.
I mean, he was a guy when he first came up.
He wanted to throw every pitch one hundred and he realized,

(11:46):
you know, I got to save some of this and
have something in my pocket when there's a run around
second base where there's two strikes in the batter. Garrett Cole,
if you look at his velocity when he's got two
strikes and throws a four seamer, it's going to be
his A plus fastball. He's not throwing that all the time.
And I think, just for a better rm health, I
would like to see his fastball velocity modulate so that

(12:08):
it's not going down. And it's not a lot, don't
get me wrong, but it's telling me that he's coming
out of the gates, you know, firing basically as hard
as he can. When you see over one hundred in
the first inning.

Speaker 2 (12:19):
Yeah, and as he moves this further along, it could
be like your explanation's perfect. The big thing is to
learn how to locate less than one hundred. I mean
ninety five, ninety six to ninety seven is wonderful located well.
So I don't know exactly what the game plan is
for fastball and fastball location for him, and if he's
able to do that or not. He seems to have
really good command and watching him, it's like I'm saying,

(12:43):
the command of the split to me is really uncanny,
and that's like his go to pitch. I believe that's
the one when he needs a strike because one of
two things are going to happen. He's gonna throw it
for a strike or it's going to turn it start
out as a strike and become a ball and the
guy's going to swing at it. So that's a go
to strike pitch. It's a seven iron. He can hit
that anytime he wants, so as he moves it forward,

(13:03):
I'm curious to see how that plays out. I'd like
to see that too. I think that's to throw more
fastballs and fastballs located where he wants them to be located.
It's going to really, I think, permit him that third
time three you're talking about are deeper into the game.
And be very effective with it, because I think the hitters,
if they have to respect that a little bit more,
he can take some pressure off of that splitter slider situation.

(13:26):
And I know he does have a variety of different pitches,
but to me, if you don't have a fastball that
you could command, eventually that other stuff gets pounded a
little bit as hitters get more onto your methods.

Speaker 1 (13:39):
Yeah, I'm glad you mentioned that, because one of the
things I'm most impressed about with Paul Skeins is his command.
You know, he is a guy obviously throwing one hundred
miles an hour, and we're not used to guys spotting
it up. But you know, for a guy who does
throw this many pitches and has velocity, to me, I'm
super impressed that just about everything that comes out of
his hand is forcing a swing decision by the hitter.

(14:02):
Everything is. He's enough around the zone that, you know,
those waste pitches where he just lose it and the
hitter just dismisses it right out of the hand. He
throws very few of those. Joe. For a big guy
with great power, he's almost like a finesse pitcher who
can throw a hundred the way he's just around the
edges of the plate. He's been throwing sixty eight percent strikes.

(14:26):
I mean, he does get a lot of foul balls
because again, the fastball properties to me is not so
much swing and miss as it is, you know, getting
weaker contact, but a lot of foul balls. So his
pitch counts are going to get up. But I'm telling you,
I'm just really impressed by the way this guy can pitch.
I thought he was a velocity guy. He's way more
than that. And one more thing, Joe, the Pirates are

(14:47):
now six and one when he takes the ball, and
you know what it's like as a manager. You've got
somebody sitting there lined up in a series, and whether
you're going good or you're going bad, you're thinking, I've
got schemes going tomorrow. He's going to give me six
innings and we're likely to win the game. I mean,
what a luxury that is for Derek Shelton Pittsburgh.

Speaker 2 (15:07):
It is one question, do you have like the percentage
of fastball strikes that he throws, like actually in the zone,
because I just think that part of what we're seeing
is I don't know how comfortable he is it throwing
the fastball for a strike. You've ever watched his arm
behind him, It really unfolds, it unravels. He's got this

(15:27):
real funky thing behind him, which could be both good
and bad. Eventually, I think that all leads to it.

Speaker 1 (15:33):
Yeah, yeah, just to stop you there, Joe, you're absolutely right.
He does pick his elbow up higher than the shoulder.

Speaker 2 (15:41):
Yep.

Speaker 1 (15:41):
So most pitchers, you want to say, who are repeaters
in terms of year after here taking the ball, they'll
lift the ball. If that if you take the ball
out of the glove first and it comes down, then
you bring the ball up, they rotate the arm up.
He actually picks the ball up with his elbow and
then rotates the hand up. So there's a little bit
of lateness there that he has to be careful about.

(16:03):
Sorry up to you there, but that was a great observation.

Speaker 2 (16:05):
Yet, that's the thing from the beginning and watching him listen.
The kid's great, he's got great talent. There's just certain
things that he does that kind of bothers me from experience.
I'd love to see like Todd Van remember Van Poppole.

Speaker 1 (16:18):
Yes, he had a.

Speaker 2 (16:19):
Little funk with his armstroke too. But he remember an
instructional league. I don't remember whatever year he was with Oakland.
We're going to play that day at Scottsdale Community College
versus Van poppol So I had all my boys jacked up.
I had this small ball machine out thrown from my
thirty three feet at it all jacked up the big
numbers to get on time against his fastball. We go
over to Scottsdale and they pulled. We didn't even pitch

(16:41):
that day. There's a guy that was supposed to have
this illustrious, great career based on velocity and it didn't play.
But part of it was the armstroke was kind of weird.
I thought funky a little bit. So just moving it
forward again. This is just my scouting brain working right now.
This is observation stuff going on right now. The way
is Arman furls and you described it about the elbow up, Hie.

(17:03):
That's just a little little concern. Although there's so many
players that have been great in our game and in
other games that have like indigenous qualities to what they
do a little bit different than everybody else. That makes
them great, and maybe that's what's going to make him great.
But those are the kind of things that when I
watch him, I'm always curious about.

Speaker 1 (17:19):
Yeah, and listen, I'm not saying he's in this category,
but both Steven Strasburg and Mark Pryor were late loaders
where they're and Pryor was hailed as a guy with
perfect mechanics coming out of USC and that was not
the case. We know more about deliveries and what are
red flags, but I don't think Paul Skeys is as
late as Steven Strasburg, but he does have some of

(17:41):
those properties early in the arms swing. I like this
guy a lot. And by the way, Joe, I looked
up the question you had about fastballs in the zone.
He throws his fastball in the zone sixty five percent
of the time.

Speaker 2 (17:53):
That's awesome. That's really good. If he's able to do that,
then that's that's an absolute positive.

Speaker 1 (17:58):
What he's got. To me, he's got great separation between
his torso and his hips, and guys who do that
generally are going to be command guys. And he does
that at a super high speed. It's a little bit
to me reminiscent of Tim Linsingam. It's a different delivery.
But you looked at Lensingham and the way he had
the separation between the rotation of the torso and the

(18:18):
hips was almost perfect. And there was a lot going
on in his delivery, but his timing was exceptional, and
I see that with Paul Skeins. I think he is
a command guy with power. And I got to tell you, Joe,
I know he's only made seven starts. I want to
see this guy at the All Star Game. Listen, He's
going to have a couple of stars before we get
there anyway, But I think he's pitching his way onto

(18:40):
the team. I mean, besides just the fan draw, the
numbers he's putting up to me are worthy of All
Star consideration.

Speaker 2 (18:47):
I agreed. I totally agree with that part of the
All Star Game should be the fact that it basically
no longer counts again, right, it should be a spectacle
for the fans and you should want to see the best.
And I don't think the lack of experience should hold
him back either. He's different, could be phenomenal actually by
the end of the season in the years to come.
So yes, I agree he's a draw and the fans

(19:09):
would want to see this guy. Yes.

Speaker 1 (19:11):
Yeah. One last thing on Paul Skeens, and I want
your take from a manager's perspective, Joe, because I was
really impressed Monday night against Cincinnati, two runners on base,
ninety six pitch of the game, He's in a jam
for the third time, third time around the lineup as well,
and he pulls one hundred out of his pocket, gets
a little dribbler in front of the plate from Tyler Stevenson.
I saw the competitiveness. I saw the fact that there

(19:33):
was still enough in the tank to complete a pitch
and execute a pitch when you're you know, getting towards
the end of the night with runners on base. The
question is now, as Pittsburgh now, which is still in
the hit thick of things in terms of at least
a division, but certainly the wildcard race. You know, there's
things I like about that Pirates team, and you're Derek
Shelton now, and you've got this, this guy who can

(19:55):
just dominate. When do you kind of let him run?
When do you take the governors off and say this
is why he's here. He's a kid who's you know,
he's big guy in a college World Series. He threw
one hundred and twenty pitches in the game, I know
we want to be super careful. He's only pitched on
either five days or six days of rest, and I'm

(20:15):
sure that probably won't change where they pitch him on
four days. By the way, four days is now short
rest in the major leagues. But if you're Derek Shelton,
then this Pittsburgh team, which I think they're capable of
hanging in there, Joe and being around the edges of
the race here getting a playoff spot. When do you
just say, Okay, I trust this guy to throw one
hundred and ten, one hundred and fifteen pitches. Is that

(20:36):
going to happen or or not?

Speaker 2 (20:38):
Well, I would keep doing what they're doing right now,
quite frankly, the extra month of a season, and then
a little bit further regarding playoffs, it's different. He'll never
he's never experienced anything like this, so I would still
be careful for me. Post All Star break, something we
do with the Rays. I can't remember exactly the year
it was, but we threw Alex Cobbyn and I think

(21:00):
we've talked about this for a six man as we
had that he was that. I mean, we felt really
comfortable Alex being the sixth guy within our rotation. I
like the idea of post all Star break. If you
have the right kind of pitcher, somebody you like, you
throw them in as a six guy, maybe for once
twice around the rotation post all Star break, to give
these guys even a little bit more ad at rest.

(21:22):
And then I'd say right around August would be when
I would possibly open it up a little bit more.
I found that to be a really effective thing that
we did with the Ray, So I would play it
as is for now, because said post All Star break,
if you have that guy, throw them in there, and
here comes August, and then by that point, if everything
seems to be in good order, you feel good about innings,

(21:43):
and everybody talks about innings pitched. Also, I like number
of pitches thrown. I'm a big number of pitches thrown
guy too. That really tells me a lot about the
pitcher and how he's able to proceed the next time
through some five innings with you know, if he's throwing
six innings and eighty some pitches and you take them
up because of eighty pitches, that's one thing. If you
throw six in one hundred and ten, that's somethingmpletely different.

(22:04):
And I would look at the next start based more
on how many pitches the guy through the last time
as opposed to the number of innings that he threw
the previous time out. I've always been into that number
of pitches thrown. I've always do the math during the game.
You always love that fifteen pitches per inning is always
the perfect mark for me. I used to start taking
number of pitches per game and average them Mountain try
to figure out the optimal number for each particular starting

(22:26):
pitcher that I had, so as it moves forward, I
would try to stay away from the innings as much,
really focus on pitches that he's thrown per game and
really try to parcel it out from there and find
out how well he pitches after the time, after he's
thrown maybe more pitches than he had previously, or with
any kind of consistency. That's the interesting thing to me.

(22:50):
Figure that part out, and then you'll know how to
treat them the rest of the season.

Speaker 1 (22:54):
Well, with all the governors we have on starting pitchers,
now we've lost the star quality of starting pitchers, and
Paul Skins is bringing it back. So I hope he
keeps taking the ball every day fifth or sixth day.
He's going to be super competitive and successful. There's no
question about it. It's just a matter of health. And
I think he is bringing back some of that Marquis
value of what it means, like Paul Skeens is pitching tonight,

(23:17):
I'm going to the game, and so far early in
his career, Paul Skeens is putting another ten thousand people
in the park at panc Park when he pitches. Their
attendance is up fifty percent when he takes the ball. Now,
maybe they've had some giveaways that boost that number, but
there's no question he is a drawing card and I
can't wait to see how it plays out for the
rest of this season because I think what you're seeing

(23:37):
here is real everything about him. He's a polished, pure pitcher,
not just a velocity guy. Hey, when we get back,
I mentioned something about an epidemic and this does not
involve pitchers. We've talked a lot about pitcher injuries. What
is going on with hitters. There's something that's concerning me
that's happening that's taking some of the best players off

(23:59):
the field. We will talk about that right after this. Well, Joe,
we were talking about the All Star Game and Paul Skeins,
we hope will get there. I think everybody wants to

(24:20):
see him on the field there throwing one hundred plus.
But we will not be seeing Mokei Betts at the
All Star Game. That's because he was hit by a pitch.
He's out for six to eight weeks. And when you
talk about getting hit by a pitch, you go back
to the start of the live ball era. It's nineteen twenty,
so we're talking about more than one hundred and four years.

(24:41):
And if I asked you the five most dangerous years
for a hitter, in other words, the rate of pitcher's
hitting batteries with pitches, I'll give you those five years.
Twenty twenty, twenty twenty one, twenty twenty two, twenty twenty three,
twenty twenty four. You see a pattern there. I mean,

(25:02):
it's just amazing what what's going on here, and we're
talking about batter is just can't get out of the
way with what's happening here in the game. And unfortunately,
this is what happens. Mookie Betts is having an MVP
type of season. Now he's off the field for six
to eight weeks because Dan Altavila threw a fastball lost
at arm side, ran up, smacked him on the hand

(25:23):
and one of the best drawing cards in the game.
One of the great players in the game is on
the shelf for a month and a half. What do
you see going on, Joe.

Speaker 2 (25:31):
Well, there's two things that happened with that. The hitter's
either diving in and or the pitchers really trying to
elevate in. I'm elevated in is a really good pitch
if you could perform it. There's a slot up there
on every guy. It's rare that anybody handles elevation in. Well,
that's a rare hitter, and if he does, it's probably
just blocked out hit softly the other way. So again,

(25:53):
this could come down to analytics and where to pitch
certain hitters. I watch Mokie, but I don't know him
well enough to know that, but I would bet that
that might be a slot. Elevated in might be the
slot you want to go to get him out. And
then the other component of it, where guys are because
of so many breaking balls being thrown, so many guys
are kind of like I don't the term would be diving.
Although you're just really your left foots gets the right

(26:14):
had hit, or you get left foot really gets closer
to the plate because you're looking outside so much because
I'm going to see a breaking ball. I'm seeing so
many breaking balls, and all of a sudden, that becomes
part of your nature and your method of hitting. So
for years, I mean, you really stayed away from diving.
I mean that was a big thing as a hitting coach.
You really wanted to help your guys to learn to
not do that and still be able to cover the

(26:36):
outer edge of the plate. For me, the adjustment was
always by getting the back foot closer to the plate
and controlling where your front foot went based on that,
because when your backfoot gets farther away from the plate,
then you have a tendency to want to get your
diver or get your left foot more close to the
plate because that's your way to cover the outside edge.
So if I had to draw two conclusions, I would

(26:56):
say that the breaking ball pliforation of breaking balls being
thrown is causing some hitters to really dive or try
to protect that outside edge more. And analytically speaking, the
elevated in fastball is such an effective pitch, but the
problem is some guys that can't execute it are throwing it.
And when you can't execute and you throw it offen enough,
you're going to hit some guys. So I don't think

(27:17):
there's anything sinister behind all this. But more than anything,
I think if I had to conclude two things, I
would say that those two ideas may be at the
top of the list as to why where guys are
getting hit.

Speaker 1 (27:28):
Now, that's very interesting because I'm going to go in
a completely opposite direction. Cool, I'm gonna blame the pictures, Okay.
Dan Altavilla was the pitcher. The catcher sets up for
a four seen fastball away. Dan Altavilla throws ninety eight
miles an hour. That pitch was ninety seven point nine
miles an hour. He completely lost it armside, complete other

(27:49):
side of the plate. It actually had some run on it,
which you normally don't see that much run on a
four seing fastball. But he's a low slot guy who
throws in the upper nineties, and quite frankly, he's like
a lot of pitchers these days. They throw hard, but
they don't have command. And the two seemer is coming
back in the game. There's no question about that. And

(28:12):
when I say a two seamer, it's not necessarily a
true sinker the way you think of those ground balls,
but hard two seamers that run in on right handers
that set up pitches away. You see a lot of
pitchers Zach Wheelers as good as anybody, and it's hard
to classify that as a sinker. But I call it
a hard two seemer. So we're seeing a lot of
those right on right, left on left, where it's arm

(28:33):
side to the hitter, you lose the pitch arm side,
you're going to hit the guy. In this case, it's
a four seam fastball completely loses on the other side
of the plate. And I think hitting is more dangerous
than ever because pitchers are chasing velocity and they're getting
the big leagues without commanding the fastball. And I think
just sprayed fastballs have a lot to do with it.
Guys getting hit. Now, if you include cutters, fastballs take

(28:57):
up fifty five percent of pitches in the game today,
If you take cutters out, it's about forty seven forty eight,
But say fifty five percent including cutters are fastballs. The
hit by pitches, fifty nine percent of those are fastballs.
So fastballs generally are the bigger problem here. And listen,

(29:19):
you get hit with you know, ninety eight and above,
you get a good chance of breaking something. So I think
we have a lot of guys in the game who
chasing spin, chasing velocity, and if you mentioned to them
the word command, they're like, well, you know, catcher sets
up the middle of the plate and I'll try to
get the ball there somewhere around there.

Speaker 2 (29:36):
You're right, been in a lot of meetings where pitchers
that they're not they're not being taught to pitch or
being taught to throw in the rock throwers, they're just
trying to throw the ball as hard as they possibly can.
And in the meetings you will hear oftentimes just to
the catcher, just sit down the middle, because when these
guys try to sit on edges, it doesn't matter because
these guys can't hit edges. So it's really become to

(29:58):
that point where you just try to throw the ball
down the middle, knowing that it's not going to go
down the middle more often than not. So that's I've
been part of those meetings. Also one hundred percent right
about the chasing of velocity and the fact that ConTroll
and command is really not an issue as it had
been anymore, And for me, for so many years, often

(30:21):
thought in order to be a big league pitcher, we
always talked about being able to control and command your
fastball in order to be a major league pitcher. We
always thought that was the benchmark, that that was the
one area where we wanted our guys to really strive
to become good at because we thought everything would play
off of that, whereas today it's just more about the

(30:42):
scribing is for velocity more than it is to be
able to pitch ability and be able to command pitches
in and out. So I do agree with what you
just said, but again I also believe the in meetings
and stuff, the elevated ind component of it is there.
But in a situation you're talking about again, without really
good command of what you're doing, you pull off your

(31:02):
pitch and it's going to run in exactly like you
did to him. And last point, I still believe like
the hitters having to protect away because of so many
breaking balls, I think this they all conspire to get
to the point where a lot of guys are getting hit.

Speaker 1 (31:16):
Yeah, you know, Joe getting out of the way of
a pitch that's coming at you at ninety eight. It's
almost impossible, especially when there's armside run the same sided
hitter where it's literally diving in toward you. It's so difficult.
I had a good conversation with Dave Roberts the other
day about Corey Seger, and obviously you matched up against

(31:37):
him a lot, and the way Corey Seger fills up
the batter's box. He's a big dude. If you see
Corey in person, he's even bigger than you think he is,
just in terms of how broad he is and his
shoulders and his height, everything about him. He fills up
the batter's box. He takes that wide stance and he
does not move Joe, I mean, he does not give ground.

(31:58):
And what Dave was talking about was exactly that, that
you can't scare him off the plate. You know, there
are some guys, and I know the Yankees used to
talk about this with Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez and
some hitters. You can throw them hard in and that
will open up the outside part of the plate because
they don't like the ball in. Some hitters are I

(32:19):
hate to use the word afraid, but the ball inside
does have them jump out of the way. We see
it all the time to come back two seamer at
the hips, where a hitter will jump out of the way. Well,
Corey Seeger is one of those hitters. He's not going
to jump out of the way if that come back
two seemers coming at his hip. He's staying right there.
And it's interesting to me, Joe. The guys can get
to the big leagues. Some never give ground and some

(32:42):
and you know who those hitters were. You knew you
could push them off the plate and sort of dictate
at bats by doing that. You know, it's a skill
that we don't see as much anymore. Roger Clemens used
to call it moving a hitter's feet. I mean, he
was really going after hitters, and he made it sound
like he was, you know, helping a buddy move furniture.

(33:03):
We gotta move the feet. We don't see as much
of that. But you know, Joe, there are certain hitters
where you can dictate in a bet by pitching them
hard in and they don't like the ball in.

Speaker 2 (33:14):
One hundred percent, that's exactly right. And in there's those
that are, like you said, the most more stoic types
Anthony Rizzo, I think in today's game really represents that well.
Rizz gets on the plate, stays on the plate because
he has to be there in order to be successful.
He's been hit a lot. And the thing I like
about riz and I always used to tell my hitters,
when you get hit by a pitch, you got two options.

(33:35):
Go to the mount or go to first base. And
so Rizz just drops the bat and runs the first
base because he knows ree set up and he knows
it's going to probably or possibly happen. And that's great.
Mo Vaughn. The thing about he used to love about
modacious Mo would get Mo would get over the plate.
He'd have his back foot at the back point of
the plate and his front foot would be, of course
a little bit in front of the plate, but he

(33:56):
would have the plate underneath him, basically because he felt
that was his best way to command the strike zone.
And he's, you know, Moe's pretty big, strong dude and everything.
But these are guys that weren't going to be moved.
As an example, they're not going to be moved, not
the guys that you can move. I don't even can't
think of examples off the top of my head. But
there are and that's true. I mean, you definitely want

(34:17):
to push them back, like right when you make them
like put their arms up in the air, push their
stomach back and like they almost like they're doing a
dance kind of a move, get in the middle of
their torso and make them react like that. A lot
of guys, you got them after that. You know you
got them after that. And there's nothing wrong with repeating that. See,
that's the big thing about pitchers that really know what
they're doing, is to repeat inside, repeat inside. Because when

(34:41):
you just dot them up once inside and go back away,
that can become a pattern. Hitters can make that adjustment.
But when you come in and repeat in, that definitely
makes these guys think twice. But not guys like bo
and not guys like Riz. So it takes all kinds.
But it's true the inside pitch could be a big weapon,
and to others, it's just where they need to be

(35:02):
in order to hit like they're capable of hitting. They
know they're gonna get hit on occasion. Got two options,
go to the mount or go to first space.

Speaker 1 (35:10):
So Joe, that brings me to the always interesting topic
of intentionally hitting a batter, you know. And I know
that there used to be back in the day Tony
LaRussa used to talk about, or they said, Tony would
talk about, you know, you hit one of mine, we
hit two of yours.

Speaker 2 (35:25):
Right.

Speaker 1 (35:26):
I think some of that code has disappeared from the game, Joe,
But do you believe that there are still times and
I don't know if the manager would be involved in this,
but there are times when a pitcher will intentionally throw
at a batter, you know, based on what it's precipitated something.

Speaker 2 (35:45):
Yeah, it should happen on occasion. But the big thing
about a professional hit you go at the thigh, you
go low, you go in the middle of the body.
You don't ever go up top with with that kind
of a message. Back in the day they did. I mean,
you talk about you know, the chin music and all
that stuff, and guys expected it. Hitters would not dig in.
They were ready for it to come at them. And

(36:06):
good batter and different whatever you want to describe that.
It sounds like a really mean method right in today's world,
but back then it was part of the landscape. And
that's what different pictures did in order to survive and
also to protect their own. So there is that part
of it, and you're right when it comes to these
kind of moments. In my experience, one hundred percent of

(36:27):
the time it came from somebody within the group. A
lot of times it's a veteran picture, veteran relief pitcher especially.
And I'll say this too, I didn't like when you
try to put that on one of my rookie pictures.
I didn't like when a rookie pitcher was asked to
do something like that. They just didn't know how quite frankly,
so I'd rather wait later in the game and give
their responsibility to a veteran, a guy that knew how

(36:49):
to do it a little bit more, with a little
bit more pinache, because it has to be done. I'm sorry.
I mean, people may disagree with that, but these are
the kind of things that can set it apart. I know, example,
two thousand and eight, Rays playing the Boston Red Sox
in Boston, dust up the next Shields E drills Cocoa
Crisp right in the thigh first pitch of the game,
and all hell broke loose. But that was a big

(37:10):
part of the ascension in the galvanizing component of our team. Again,
I don't know if that's really part of the landscape anymore,
even know if that method would take root. I don't
know how players would react to it today, but back
then they did, and I always felt like a little
bit dust up on occasion was actually good for morale
based on keeping your group together. So I know a

(37:32):
lot of people are going to disagree with what I'm
saying right now, and that's fine, but I'm telling here
to tell you it does matter. And when you do
things like that, the galvanizer group have each other's back,
protecting your own, it matters. So I'll always defend that concept.
I think it's appropriate. And again I'm not talking about
going high on anybody. Chuck Finley was great at picking

(37:52):
out a thigh, and so is James Shields.

Speaker 1 (37:54):
I gotta explore that a little more, Joe, because I know,
obviously in two thousand and eight, you're ascending with the Rays,
trying to establish yourself, and I know the Red Sox
the Yankees had had their way with the Rays for years,
and I know that Pedro Martinez was part of those,
you know, intimidation tactics, if you will, pitching inside, and
he could lose the ball armside very easily, whether on

(38:15):
purpose or not. He hit its fair share of batters.
So what would precipitate you going after Coco Crisp in
terms of James Shields, who a guy I know you
trusted in terms of commanding that baseball where he wasn't
going to lose it up and in well, the.

Speaker 2 (38:29):
Night before, we had a play at second base early
in the game. He tries to steal and Jason Bartlett
was really good to get in there early, and he
put a kneed down and he blocked him, sliding into
the bag head first, slide blocks his hand. He's out,
so he got all upset about that. A couple of
things later, he's on first base again at the ground
ball to Jason. He throws to Aki's coming across the

(38:50):
bag and he's like way across the bag and today's standards,
I mean, my god, he would have been called out
for the slide, but he took him out. But he
took him out with his feed up and that caused
a little bit of a ruckus. Then in the bottom
of the eighth, Na went out to take a picture
out and as I'm walking out to the mountain, I'm
yelling into Boston dugout the whole time, and Coco's on
the top rail yelling back at me, and that was great.

(39:13):
But all this stuff had to be done in our sport.
If you're going to take him in, and if you're
going to be top of the heap, at some point,
you got to take it. Nobody's given you anything, and
they should never give you anything. Everything has to be earned,
and sometimes it has to be earned through intimidation, just
like you said. So that all occurred, and the next
day I never said anything to Shields he and I
was hoping he didn't do it, only because he's my

(39:34):
starting pitcher and he's very good. But here it comes
hits him in the first pitch. There goes Coco, all
my guys reacting. We had suspensions that whole month. We
had a play around like a short short roster on
a nightly basis, I think for three weeks because different
guys were suspended at different times. But we really galvanized
through that. We became the Rays became the race pretty

(39:56):
much that season. In two thousand and eight, it started
with a fight with the Yankees and spring training on
a collision at to play with Francisco Cervelli got to
take it. I mean, these guys were out there bullying us,
they were intimidating us, and we kept taking it. You
take it to the point you don't take it anymore.
So I'll defend that. I thought it was the right
thing to do. I thought it guy sounded the great,
nobody got hurt, and message sent and eventually the Rays

(40:18):
became the race.

Speaker 1 (40:20):
I love that story, and thanks for sharing that, Joe,
because you know what, it sounds like, it's a story
from the nineteen thirties, but it's two thousand and eight.
Everything you're saying about that story just does not happen
in today's game. The infielder putting his knee down to
block the base can't do it anymore. The hard slide

(40:40):
in the second base to break up a double play
can't do it anymore. The guy in the opposing team
getting on the top step of the dugout and yelling
at the opposing manager. Nobody does that anymore. Nobody's jeering
the other team from their own dugout. They're all in
the same fraternity. They're all pretty much buddies. The pitcher
commanding the baseball enough to hit a guy in the
right spot. A lot of guys can't do that anymore.

(41:00):
I mean, that story he's told is a great story,
but it sounds like it's from a completely different era
from the game we're seeing today.

Speaker 2 (41:08):
Well that's why I keep stopping and protecting myself in
a sense. But it's true, anybody that played the game
for I don't know, up until maybe what twenty fifteen
or so twenty sixteen, we had some dust ups to there.
It just seems to have shifted so much more recently.
A lot of it has to do with legislation, different

(41:30):
rules that have been put in effect, and the idea of
protecting the players. They keep them on the field, right
down to the posey role at to play at the
plate the time utly pancake the guy second base, which
is the one slide I didn't agree with out of
all of them. But all these roles that have been
put in effect have really made the game more Gentleinally,
I don't think it's good. I don't want to see

(41:52):
guys getting hurt, but I like to see games played aggressively.
And again, if you want to bring your group together
and protect one another, it matters, It really matters when
your group plays that way, goes to the ballpark that way,
game over, has a beer with each other, which that
doesn't happen either anymore. Nobody nobody hangs anymore after games.
It pretty much everybody goes their own separate way. And

(42:15):
there was a lot to be said for that too,
when guys bonded postgame and talked about it, and you
could talk to all the veterans, and I swear, I
mean every time. I just was just in New York
at the Yogi Tournament talking to Willie Randolph, a little
bit of David Kohne Ron Gidrey, who was an absolute Jim,
and so is Willie. Willie, you could see why these

(42:35):
Yankees were so good. Their former players are like, they're
like the most awesome people you've ever met in your life.
But everybody laments what's going on in a sense and
how different it is. And I know change is not
always wonderful. I'm into change. I am so into change.
The great line I think was Jack, Well, it's changed
before you have to, And that's a good line, and

(42:56):
I always keep that in the back of my mind.
So when you hear the word change, everybody all and
the word progressive, everybody always assumes it's a positive. I don't.
I have to evaluate what the change is and what
the progressive thought is before I try to tell myself
whether I think it's good or not. I don't think
everybody does that. I think whenever they hear change or
progressive or progressive thoughts or progressive ism, everybody automatically assumes

(43:18):
it's for the better or it's for good. I don't
agree with that. I think we all have to think
for ourselves and evaluate what we're seeing, what we're hearing,
and what the change and the thought is and make
up our own minds. Group think really is getting way
too over the top. Everybody wants to be the same
dude and think the same way, and that's part of
why it's become less attractive.

Speaker 1 (43:39):
Well, listen, I'm all for player safety, but to me,
baseball will have jumped the shark when it goes to
the safety base at first base. There's no need for that,
and I know, you know, you can see it in
softball sometimes and it's been tried in other areas, but
we don't need the double base at first base just
because there's a one in a million chance that there's

(44:02):
going to be a collision there at first base. We
can't mitigate every single safety risk on the baseball field.
I do not want to see the double base at
first base, Joe.

Speaker 2 (44:11):
Of course not if you want to, like I said,
if you want to do some good things, figure out
how to homogenize the check swing or the back call,
or get rid of the lane at first base, and
really try to figure that out. Where there's some outs
being made where all you have to do is a
catcher is try to hit the runner in the back
because you have you can't make the place and just
hit him in the back and the runners out. There's
so many different areas I think to attack as opposed

(44:34):
to these concerns with safety, and that's all being brought
about by you know, different people crying about different things.
But the game is a game, and it's supposed to
be tough. It's not supposed to be easy. It's there's
there's going to be injuries. There is. It's baseball, it's athletics,
it's athletes, football, basketball, everything's the same, man, So you
just can't keep attempting to legislate safety. There are some

(44:56):
things I'd have to really think about what I think
has come across the board that I think is a
good thing. The best thing that we you've done is
the pitchclock. To me, that's the number one best changed
rule in the history of the game. I love the
pitch clock. I also could say like the PitchCom I
like the ability to call pitches more easily without the
concern of somebody stealing your signs, etc. Those are really

(45:20):
really well thought out good stuff. But the other things,
like I said, that's when you talk about changing progressive
as being good. But I have to evaluate and say, no,
I'm not into it.

Speaker 1 (45:29):
Well, if you want the look of old school baseball,
you're getting it. This week, this is going to be
the most anticipated game that I can remember ever going
to see. I can't wait for this game. We will
talk about it next here the Book of Joe podcast.
It is MLB at rickwood Field coming out on Thursday.
Right after this we'll dive in rickwood Field. Joe is

(46:02):
America's oldest ball It opened in August of nineteen ten,
so yes, it's older than Wrigley Field en Fenway Park,
and MLB is playing a game there Thursday night as
a tribute to the Negro Leagues and to especially Willy
Mays the Giants against the Cardinals, and at rickwood Field

(46:23):
was the home for the Birmingham Black Barons throughout the thirties, forties, fifties,
actually beginning in nineteen twenty one, and the history in
this ballpark is like nothing else. Almost half the Hall
of Fame members have played at rickwood Field baseball. The
National American League teams used to play games, their exhibition

(46:43):
games on their way north from spring training. Babe Ruth
in the nineteen twenties was playing there virtually every year.
There was a week in nineteen forty eight where the
Yankees and Red Sox played exhibition games there and the
Birmingham Barons played in that week. You had Joe DiMaggio,
Ted Williams, and Willie Mays all playing at rickwood Field.

(47:04):
Just the history is amazing, but especially to recognize the
Negro Leagues and their importance not only to baseball but
to American culture. I love the line from I think
it was Jackie Robinson talking about how the Negro leagues
really were the laboratory for cultural change, racial change in America.
That you could play a game together and we all
can learn from the lessons that baseball established. And of course,

(47:25):
the Negro leagues were established because they weren't allowed to
play in the National and American leagues. And it wasn't
until Jackie broke that barrier at nineteen forty seven and
really kind of marked the decline of the Negro leagues
because now the opportunity was there to play in the
National League at American leagues. But it's one of the
best things baseball has ever done. Joe, the place looks amazing.

(47:48):
People are not going to believe what this old ballpark
looks like. I'm with you on the pitch clock. To me,
it's the greatest thing to happen to baseball since Harry M.
Stevens invented the hot dog at a ballpark back in
the turn of the century two centuries ago. And now
we've got this game on Thursday night. It's just going
to be a beautiful night and a meaningful night for baseball.

Speaker 2 (48:07):
I love all of that. You know, I'm a historian
with the game myself. I'm just thinking, as you're talking,
I'm just waxing internally. Here be a great place to
go to reconnect with the game. It's almost like I
like to go sit in a church when nobody's in it.
I'll go sit in the back of a church and
just sit there and reflect. It's almost like Rerick Wuid
feel would be the perfect place to just go sit

(48:29):
in there, sit down, look out over the field and
try to reimagine everything you just talked about and reconnect
with the game. I think that's awesome. I hope everybody
or many people see it in that same vein this
real reconnection to a simpler time, which still is the
most attractive method of living to me in that simple way.

(48:52):
So I'm definitely gonna be watching this. It's great that
you're gonna be able to be there witness it in person.
As we're talking about this, I'm telling myself, I have
to figure out how to get down there at some
point and just just do the church things in the
back pew, look out over this thing, and just mentally
recreate all these different people that you said played there
at some point. Jackie Robinson final point. One of my

(49:13):
all time favorites. The last game at Yankee the old
Yankee Stadium, the race played in it. There used to
be a very inexpensive poster of Jackie Robinson on the
wall in the manager's office and Luca Kuza is the
attendant there and asked. Lewis says, can I buy that
from you? Can I because it's a quote about courage
underneath Jackie Robinson on that and I think that's a

(49:35):
word that can be thrown around a little bit too easily,
but absolutely describes his whole life. And I says, I want,
I would like to buy that from you. And last
day we ready to go, and all of a sudden
he just gives it to me. Which I still have
that poster from the manager's office at Yankee Stadium. So
I have the most respect ever for that man and
the fact that he so eloquently put it regarding the

(49:59):
connection of the Negro leagues and what it's done for
our society one hundred percent accurate. So good for you man,
good good for baseball. This is something that these are
the kind of things to me that have the impact.
Maybe my generation is looking for me, and maybe the
new generation is looking for uniforms and looking at all
the city connect uniforms and are raiding the city connect

(50:20):
uniforms and from groovy to not groovy, that kind of stuff,
and that's you know, all guys like to wear different uniforms,
and I don't even want to go there. But this
is the kind of stuff that really matters. We create
a gender new baseball fans based on something like this
over a City connect uniform. But I think it's yet.
I think City Connects going to win every day.

Speaker 1 (50:39):
Yeah, but you know, at least this game brings exposure
to the Negro leagues in terms of a generation to
discover who these people were, how important they were to
not just baseball history, but American history. I mean, I
think about especially playing this game in Birmingham, Alabama. Martin
Luther King called it the most segregated city in the country.

(51:00):
This is during the racial unrest of the nineteen fifties
and sixties. Birmingham actually had a Jim Crow Law on
the books. It was an ordinance in the city that
blacks and whites could not play a game together and
that included not just baseball and football, but checkers. It
was actually written in and people referred to it as

(51:20):
the Checkers rule, and it was out of books since
nineteen forty four. Because you know, the segregation saw that
the society was beginning to integrate post war, they wanted
to hold on to the old ways, so they wrote
these Jim Crow laws where literally you could not play
around of golf, a game of checkers, a game of basketball, baseball,
anything that was integrated. So baseball was either all black

(51:45):
or all white in Birmingham for years and years and years,
and then in nineteen fifty four there was a brief
period where they wanted to attract Major League Baseball exhibition games,
but the checkers rule prevented that. So there was a
brief period really only for a matter of months where
they dropped baseball and football from the wording of the
checkerckers rule, and there were Major League exhibition games in

(52:06):
the spring of nineteen fifty four in Birmingham at Rickwood Field.
It was the first time Birmingham had integrated games, first
time ever. And in the second first of those games,
Stam Usual hit a four hundred and eighty four foot
home run over the roof and right field and in
the second game, the starting left fielders it was a
game between the Milwaukee Brays and Brooklyn Dodgers. The second game,

(52:31):
the starting left fielders were Jackie Robinson, then thirty five
years old, and Hank Aaron, who would make his major
league debut just a few days later. How about that
kind of history. The left fielders were Jackie Robinson and
Hank Aaron and the checkers rule was put back in
place just a few months later. And it was not
until nineteen sixty three that in Birmingham, Alabama, it was

(52:57):
legal to have an integrated baseball game. That's the kind
of history Rick Woodfield also holds. Besides all the great
names is that have played on that field.

Speaker 2 (53:05):
Can't top it. That's beautiful stuff right there, man. And
again that's what I'm talking about, sitting in the last
few and trying to reimagine all of that as a kid,
That's what really got me tuned into this game, the
imagination of the game, the allure from as a kid.
I might have told you this growing up, I really
wanted to see Fenway Park. And what I wanted to

(53:27):
see about Fenway Park was what existed? What was it
like beyond the Green Monster? What was that street like
out there? So when the first time I got to
the big leagues with the Angels and went to Boston,
sure enough, the first thing I do was walk down
that street. I can't even remember exactly what was on
that street except a bunch of little couple of bars
maybe whatever. But that was always an alluring thought to me.

(53:50):
What would existed beyond the Green Monster. We had a
ballpark here in town, Cranberry Park out in West Hazleton,
that actually Babe Ruth played at, and recently Rick Mant
sent me a newspaper clipping of that the game where
Alone Guy struck out Babe the Bambino twice in that
game here at Cranberry Ballpark, which existed not far from
where I'm sitting right now. That's what really turns me

(54:12):
on about our game. It does the fact that we
can connect back so far, and for me it was
always almost like a religion as a kid growing up,
and how I felt about it and the allure to it.
I think there's a lot of people out there that
feel that way, and I just like the newer fans
growing up, the younger fans, that they would have some
kind of connection in that regard in that way. I

(54:36):
don't know if it's possible anymore. I don't know that,
but a mystery capping that's what made me want to
do what I did, or moments like that, and Cranberry
Ballpark's liquid which I got to see at some point,
and our moment last year at Hinchliffe Stadium in Patterson,
New Jersey. These are the things that really connect and
draw you in. For me, the more we can do that,

(54:58):
hopefully it resonates with some youth and the fact that
it brings them in that way somehow too, I.

Speaker 1 (55:03):
Think, R Yeah, you're talking about an appreciation of history,
and I think it's so important. We all come from someplace.
There's generally people who have paid paths for us, whether
we realize it or not, and I think it's important
to understand where we're from, the physical places and the
people who pay the way for us. And when you
told that story about Fenway, Joe, he really touched a

(55:25):
spot in my heart because for me it was opening
day in nineteen eighty five, going out to Fenway Park
for me for the first time. And if you can
imagine how low the sun is in the sky in
early spring in Boston, Massachusetts, and it's a bright, sunny morning,
cold but sunny, and the place is empty. And I'm
with you as far as going to churches when it's empty,

(55:47):
I'll get there early just for that reason, to give
that feeling It's the same at a ballpark if you
get there early. Unfortunately, every time batting practice goes on
now players can't take VP unless the music is blaring.
And I miss the days when the ballpark was empty
and all you heard was the crack of the bat
or the hitting the leather of a glove. It's just
a beautiful, peaceful kind of place. And that morning I

(56:09):
walked out made sure I walked out to the wall
and left field. There's nobody in the ballpark. Gates haven't
been opened yet, and I was absolutely dumbfounded by the
fact that that wall and left field looks like a
titleist golf ball with all the dimples on it. And
you talk about history. Every batting practice line drive, every
double off the wall leaves literally an impression on the wall,
and I had not realized that it doesn't show up

(56:31):
on television. But standing there next to the wall, you
get a sense of not just how many times that
wall has been hit, but how many years that wall
has been there and the things that it has seen.
And I feel the same way about going to Rickwood.
It's about a very physical place, a tangible place that
takes us back to some of the things that are important.
And again it's where we're from that's important. And that's

(56:53):
why Rickwood Field has been called the mother Church of baseball.

Speaker 2 (56:58):
That's awesome, man. Yeah, you're right about that wall. It's
just dimpled. It has dimples everywhere. I used to take
my out fielders out there the first trip into the
city or anytime we played at Fenway during batting practice
and you as a mongo hitter with just pepper that
wall and that was fun. That was fun, and once
a while you try to lift one over the wall
just for the heck of it. But yeah, that everything

(57:18):
you're stating right there, I feel the same way, brother.
It's those are the reasons why I wanted to do
this sport over all the others. And you're talking about
historical component and how far back it goes and how
well it's been tracked. And we know baseball players and
of them and teams from the early nineteen hundreds, et

(57:39):
cetera forward, whereas in football and basketball and the other
sports hockey, it's there and those are wonderful sports, but
they don't have the same kind of I don't think
historical component or impact as our game does. So love
all of that stuff about it, have a great time
on Thursday, and I definitely will be watching.

Speaker 1 (57:57):
Yeah, sense of place in baseball is so important like
nothing in any other sport. It's the physical place. It's
the fact that you're part of literally a community, that
ballparks are open to the outdoors and you feel a
sense of community when you're there. And it's also the
fact that baseball, to me nods and respects history more

(58:17):
than any other sport. And to love baseball is to
love the history of the game as well. It's a
huge part of it. So yeah, definitely looking forward to that.
And if you're a fan of anything of history of
baseball or just American history, I think you have to
watch this game. First of all, it's just going to
be physically attractive in the way that it looks. But yeah,

(58:39):
the history that's embedded in that ballpark is something that
I think should strike even a viewer. You don't have
to be there in person, So looking forward to that. Joe,
And as always I look forward to the way you
wrap up our episodes of the Book of Joe. So
what do you got for this edition of the Book
of Joe to bring us home?

Speaker 2 (58:58):
You're talking about a lot of change. We're just talking
about a lot of change and different things that may occur,
and bessive thoughts and the ability to either accept or
repel them. And I just, you know, I guess I'm
talking to myself right here, because sometimes I don't know
if it's being said in your ways is the right
way to describe it, or just being well thought in
your ways. But Marcus Relius once said, be tolerant with

(59:21):
others and strict with yourself. So I think, you know,
with all different methods ideas thoughts, really absorb them, really
digest and really think them all the way through, and
try to conclude not based on bias. The only bias
that you should have is that what's best for everybody
according to your methods, your more's whatever. However, you're grown up,

(59:42):
So be tolerant with others absolutely and really try to
understand everybody's coming from. And on the other hand, be
strict with yourself. I know I am, I know that
for sure, I could absolutely say that with certainty. So
that part of it is I could be my own
worst enemy and nobody could be harder on me than me,
So I like that member to be tolerant with others,

(01:00:04):
be open minded, listen, and don't always be confrontational while
you're being strict with yourself and making sure that you're
agreeing or disagreeing for the right reasons and not just
because just because you don't want to agree. That's always
the worst reason to be a contrariant. So anyway, be
tat with others and strict.

Speaker 1 (01:00:24):
With yourself as always perfect. Kapper very well said, this
was fun. We'll do it next time.

Speaker 2 (01:00:29):
Thanks, Thanks brother, I have a great time man.

Speaker 1 (01:00:43):
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