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Peter Gammons talks playoffs, Red Sox on The Big Show

10.15.10 at 7:46 pm ET
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Baseball analyst Peter Gammons stopped by The Big Show on Friday to talk playoff matchups, the acquisition of the Liverpool soccer team by Sox ownership, and the Red Sox offseason. The ownership group behind the Red Sox recently bought the Liverpool soccer team, and Gammons offered his own insight for Red Sox management: “A friend of mine last week brought this whole thing up and he said ‘You know what, if things go bad, the Red Sox marketing campaign could be ‘It could be worse, we could be the McCourts.”’

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

On Tim Lincecum vs. Roy Halladay matchup in the NLCS:

“It’€™s a great pitching matchup. There were some studies done today of some of the great matchups. I think this is greater than [Bob] Gibson against [Denny] McLain in ‘€™68, just because McLain wasn’€™t very good down the stretch.  It was a little different; I mean he was fortunate to get to 30 wins. I mean, it still was 31 wins against Bob Gibson but not quite the same. They listed [Sandy] Koufax against Whitey Ford in ‘€˜63. There were a couple of names in the ‘€˜50s. But this is probably in 25-30 years, the best postseason matchup. The one that I could remember that I looked forward the same way was Catfish Hunter for the A’€™s and Tom Seaver for the Mets in ‘€˜73. What is fascinating to me, what we saw in the divisional series, is the return to the point where the elite pitchers have become the stars again. We’€™re not sitting there waiting to see how far Barry Bonds can hit the ball into McCovey Cove. We’€™re not thinking about, ‘It’€™s going to be 11-9.’ We saw so many elite pitchers; I think the losing teams of the 15 games of the divisional series combined for 24 runs. The elite pitchers were dominant, and I think from a fans standpoint, while it might be more fun to see a 9-6 game, people anticipate and will watch the great pitching matchups. Back in the 70′€™s when we had [Luis] Tiant against [Jim] Palmer, everybody in the city closed over that. Even though a 3-1 game might not be the most exciting, the pitching matchups are.

Would Philly be more equipped to handle Lincecum or the other way around?

“I think Philly might be more. I mean, they have a few guys that chase a lot. I mean, Jimmy Rollins has not had any plate discipline since he came back. Ryan Howard, his first two pitches or he doesn’€™t hit. Other than Howard they are not a huge swing-and-miss team. That said, the depth of their lineup is such that, if Lincecum is off, then they have a chance.  The guy who he [Lincecum] reminds me of a lot is Mark Fidrych. Whereas Halladay is just a machine. So this is great. I am at the American League because I was asked in August which one I would want to go to, and I said the American League, and I wouldn’€™t change my mind on my bosses. I said for weeks the most compelling series could be the Giants and Phillies. In terms of characters, the Giants score enough runs, the pitching is so dominant, that it could be a great series. Great ballparks.”

There are a bunch of headlines and I’€™m convinced people will tune into these games if they sense the Yankees are in trouble in these games:

“I think that’€™s a distinct possibility. I think you’€™re right. You were right about [Alex Rodriguez] A-Rod and  [Mark] Teixeira. Ron Washington is a fascinating story.  The fact that Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels stood by him when he tested positive [for cocaine use] and how that had an impact on the players who absolutely believe ‘You know what, management have our back.’ Could you do that in Philadelphia, Boston, or New York? I don’€™t think so, because I think the media thing would be so; It makes it a great story and the players really love him. The other thing is the worth of Cliff Lee. There is really no second pitcher on the market this winter. So you got the Rangers with the new $3 billion dollar TV deal and an hour flight from his home in Arkansas. You’€™ve got the Yankees who are putting all their money in Cliff Lee’€™s pot. It makes for an interesting little side war here.”

On San Francisco vs. Phillies: Does it hurt the general public that we don’€™t know as much about the other players on Giants beside Lincecum?

“I think people around the country know [Matt] Cain pretty well. They should know the pride of New Hampshire, Brian Wilson. One of the most colorful players to ever come out of the state, let’€™s put it that way. No, I don’€™t think it really is. Pat Burrell is pretty well known. The Giants’€™ national perception has been pretty good. I think people love the fact that they are winning without Barry Bonds. As Glenn knows, I’€™m kind of the last Barry Bonds friend. I think people love that, and the scenics of the ballpark, I mean it’€™s an incredible place. I don’€™t think it is that bad. I think if it were the Padres, it wouldn’€™t be the same. ‘€¦ It’€™s not really cockiness with the Phillies; they’€™re really comfortable. I mean, as someone who is a really bad baseball player, the idea that watching players and professional athletes who are really comfortable under pressure, no fear of failure and all the rest; it fascinates me. I think the primary example is Chase Utley, there’€™s nobody more comfortable on a baseball field. The Phillies are very much that way; they are very comfortable with themselves, they play hard. They are really likable. It’€™s really going to be a fun series. They are really compelling teams. All you have to do is be around Jimmy Rollins for ten minutes, you want to run out on the field and play.”

On Red Sox purchase of Liverpool: I think that if the Red Sox are not active, this is the reason you’€™re going to hear on why the Red Sox are not active on the market.

“I agree with you. I am told it’€™s a $1 billion business that they bought for about $400 million. It’€™s a phenomenal deal. I agree with you. When they go on the market; and my guess is that they’€™re going to go real hard after Carl Crawford. If they don’€™t sign Carl Crawford and they lose Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre, there will be people screaming about it. That’€™s one of the chances you take. From John Henry’€™s standpoint, ‘OK, it’€™s not related to the Red Sox per se, it’€™s a great business deal, and in the end it might help the Red Sox in a ten-year period.’ But I agree, that’€™s the way fans are going to look at it.”

There’€™s not many other guys you can go and spend money on: It could look bad for this team.

“I agree. I think that they’€™ll end up doing OK. I think the thing they have going for them in Carl Crawford’€™s case is that he doesn’€™t want to be the guy trying to steal 70 bases. He wants to hit third in the order, playing left field, and being a .340 hitter. And there’€™s a lot to be said for being in the middle of that lineup in back of [Jacoby] Ellisbury and [Dustin] Pedroia. I keep hearing Arte Moreno is on the cusp of a $4 billion TV deal in Anaheim. So if that’€™s the case he’€™s going to have some coin to throw around. Now we know the Dodgers are not going to be big media players, so unless that team gets sold fast, which I don’€™t think it’€™s going to, Artie is going to be able to swallow up even more of the Dodgers market and he knows it and he’€™s going after it.

With Fenway Sports Group, how much is intertwined? How much is one reliant on the other?

“I don’€™t think they rely very much at all. There are certain Fenway Sports ventures that are related, but the rest are separate. That’€™s what they say now. A lot of the people, like Sam Kennedy, is involved in every one of them. I did find an interesting reading statement from Tom Warner about Liverpool today. That cracked me up. The Red Sox are the 11th market, and we know they are $250 million below the Yankees in revenue. They are still in the top three or four in revenue and are going to have enough to put together a $160 million payroll.”

On John Henry was not willing to commit to whether he would big a new stadium for Liverpool or refurbish the existing one at Anfield:

“I think we might be bringing … it is funny. A friend of mine last week brought this whole thing up and he said ‘€œYou know what, if things go bad, the Red Sox marketing campaign could be ‘€˜It could be worse ‘€” we could be the McCourts.”€

Read More: MLB Playoffs, NLCS, peter gammons, Red Sox
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