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Peter Gammons talks playoffs, Red Sox, and Cliff Lee

10.08.10 at 11:38 pm ET
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Peter Gammons of the MLB Network and NESN checked in with The Big Show on Friday to talk about the playoffs, instant replay, and the Red Sox owners’ acquisition of the Liverpool soccer club. Gammons started by making a pitch to Boston baseball fans to watch the playoffs: ‘€œI realize people in Boston don’€™t want to watch the Yankees. It’€™s just the Giants and the Phillies are so fun to watch’€¦I think the most compelling potential series without a doubt is the Giants playing the Phillies.’€

Following are some highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, visit The Big Show audio on demand page here.

On Roy Halladay‘€™s no-hitter :

I don’€™t know if anybody had too many doubts about it. He’€™s such a special guy. I was writing a column today about the Yankees and if you look at [Andy] Pettitte and [Derek] Jeter, their numbers for the postseason are exactly the same for the career and regular season. But their ability just to space everything out and have that tunnel vision and concentrate exactly and they don’€™t get wrapped up in this game, and that’€™s the way for Halladay, the same thing, it’€™s the norm rather than being dramatic about it. I guess some of these teams get too fired [up], and think, ‘€˜Oh boy, we’€™re going to play with the crowd.’€™ Just concentrate on what you do. Halladay shuts everything out so well. I actually think you’re going to see that in Roy Oswalt, too. He’€™s different than Halladay. Halladay is incredibly creative and so forth and he has, what, five different fastballs now, two different cutters, change-up, a split, and all the rest. Oswalt is so convicted in everything he does. I mean, I once asked [former teammate] Brad Ausmus, ‘€˜Is that arrogance or conviction?’€™ And he said, ‘€˜When you’re good it’€™s not arrogance, its conviction.’€™ And I think you’€™ll really see that from him too.

Is it time for Instant replay? Will it slow down games that much?

I maintain that it would speed up games because you wouldn’€™t have coaches, players, managers everybody running around the field; getting 14 different groups of umpires converging on the field. If you had in the playoffs a seventh umpire with all the technology they have, they could make the decision in 30 seconds.

I’€™ll give you an example that just amazed me. At the Hall of Fame induction, Doug Harvey got in. That’€™s great. He was a tremendous umpire. There were a lot of current and former umpires up there who made it very clear to me that they were very upset with Jim Joyce. They thought the umpire’€™s association should’€™ve disciplined Jim Joyce for admitting he was wrong in the [Armando] Galarraga case [when Joyce admitted to blowing a call that ruined a perfect game]. I actually thought it was the best moment of the year for an umpire. First of all, Jim Joyce, I believe was second in the player rankings. The fact is, okay I’€™m a human, I’€™m really sorry I ruined a place in history for this guy. There’€™s the whole point where you should never, ever admit you’€™re wrong, we don’€™t need replay. The administration of umpiring for me; for instance, you can’€™t have a replay on a check swing, I understand that. But I wish they had it in the rule book. About five years ago I was working with Bobby Valentine and there was a check swing that was a very controversial call. Now I have to admit I don’€™t do what Bobby Valentine did, which was always have the rule book in the bathroom, to study it every day about three times. So we called up one of the umpire administrators, a really good one. We said, ‘€˜Could you go through the manuals and find what the definition of a check swing is?’€™ He called us back about four hours later and said ‘€˜There is no rule in any manual about what a check swing is.’€™ It’€™s like pornography, you know it when you see it.

On the importance of the bullpen in undermining the Red Sox:

I think it’€™s more like one to eight on your pitching staff. If you’€™re bringing your bullpen in in the fifth and sixth inning, it’€™s never a good thing. I said this a bunch of times in September, I never realized how important Hideki Okajima was to that team for three years. That guy did every role possible. He was great at it, and when he went, they basically ended up with a two-man bullpen. All those different things that Okajima did: get left handers out, pitch two and a third innings here, and close’€¦There’€™s no question. There was no seventh inning-get-you-into-the-eighth-inning guy’€¦ They didn’€™t get the innings, the outs out of [Josh] Beckett that they would normally expect. He got three outs after the seventh inning the entire season.

Should Red Sox fans be concerned about $450 million purchase of Liverpool Soccer Team?

Listen, I think it’€™s fair. We don’€™t know yet exactly what the economics are of this. I know that they have said this doesn’€™t affect baseball operations at all. We don’€™t know. The fans are going to be screaming, ‘€˜Wait a minute, is this going to expand income or make it tougher?’€™ We’€™re not going to be adding that much payroll at the trading deadline. I understand that. The budget, they went over by signing [Adrian] Beltre for $10 million dollars. Is this going to impact them? ‘€¦The fans have a right to ask that. I don’€™t have any problem but it’€™s up to the Red Sox to answer that. How much of Tom Hicks‘€™ debt do they have to take in this? …

I think they are going to have to be proactive and address it. OK, they’€™re not going to spend $205 million. OK, [if Adrian] Beltre goes, and they end up playing [Jed] Lowrie at third, sign Carl Crawford, and have the first five guys in the lineup being [Jacoby] Ellsbury, [Dustin] Pedroia, Crawford, Victor Martinez, [Kevin] Youkilis. OK, fans can buy into this, go out and get a few relievers. OK, fans can buy into this. If it’€™s, OK, we’€™re going to get Adam LaRoche and who else, you know fans are going to be screaming. And that amazing sell out streak may not be so amazing. I was amazed that last Saturday night, starting a game at 9:15, with [Daisuke Matsuzaka] starting, assuring it wasn’€™t going to get done until one in the morning, that place was packed, I couldn’€™t believe it. It can come to an end and it’s one of those dangers when you try to do too many things. I think most fans say, ‘€˜Well why can’€™t they focus on baseball and nothing else?’€™

Now I happen to feel there’€™s a chance that the Yankees get old in a few years, especially if they have to sign [Derek] Jeter for five years’€¦I think they have a chance to get old and the division has a chance to be a 90-95 win division instead of a 95-105 win division. Fans are always going to believe the Yankees are going to have 100 wins every year.

On Cliff Lee’€™s Future with the Rangers, and the Rangers having a ton of money thanks to a new TV deal:

I think there’€™s a lot of debt they have to deal with. I know there are a lot of people, owners and general managers saying, ‘€˜Major League Baseball was paying the bills. You can’€™t tell me that they didn’€™t know this $3 billlion dollar deal was coming.’€™ ‘€¦ I can see Texas really being in that hunt with Cliff Lee, I think they’€™ll be very active. The rest of that pitching staff is low cost’€¦There’€™s no question that the new ownership with Nolan Ryan, the group is going to be saying, ‘€˜We’€™re building around Cliff.’€™ I think that would be a big blow to the Yankees. When I heard about that [TV] deal, I thought Cliff Lee might end up in Texas.

Read More: Cliff Lee, Liverpool, MLB Playoffs, peter gammons
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