Don't miss this interview with a man who has become a local legend in the San Diego Padres' Press Box! Steve Dolan holds the longevity record for active news media covering the Padres and was there for the team's first World Series in 1984 against Detroit and every playoff appearance since. In this energy-packed interview, Dolan shares some of his insights, stories and lessons from being around professional sports for over 50 years and opines on some of the big changes coming to baseball next season.
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Vince Kern 0:01
Welcome to another episode of Friends in wonder, a place where we invite you to explore meaningful topics without judgment or limits. Brought to you by two lifelong friends sharing their insights, while wondering, how can this help? I'm Joe Luther. And I'm Vince Kern, and we've got great topics lined up for you each week. So be sure to subscribe, like and even share with your friends. Now let's wander and wander together.
Hello, everybody and welcome to another weekly edition of friends in wonder. Hey, Joe, we've got a great show today after doing the midterm elections, we're going to delve into something a little bit lighter. We're going to talk a little baseball and and and listen and hear interview a guy who is affectionately been labeled the dean of the San Diego Padres press box.
Joe Luther 0:53
That's kind of exciting. And I think it's fitting since we last week, we did an episode on the election and that's kind of the national obligation or the National requirement for people and we're gonna move into something that's a little bit more like the national pastime, America's game so I'm excited to talk to him.
Vince Kern 1:13
Me too, Joe. Our guest today is Steve Dolan. And the reason they call him the dean of the Padres press box is that he holds the longevity record for active news media covering the Padres. He has been doing it over 50 years. He was born in San Diego and living out his dream of being involved in the sports world in a big way. He started covering the Padres in 1973 with a back country trader and he's covered the Padres for the daily Californian and alcohol for the Desert Sun newspaper in Palm Springs for the Los Angeles Times San Diego County edition Associated Press and sports ticker. He hosted his own sports radio talk show from 2012 to 2017, called Dolan's dugout. And more recently, he switched from reading game stories to serving as an official statistician. He's worked with play by play announcers from visiting teams and talent from for Fox sports San Diego, Bally sports Fs one who owns the TV rights for Major League Baseball. He's also been a statistician for TBS, and full disclosure, I've known Steve since 1989 when we work together at the Daily Californian, but I can attest he's one of the finest and humblest human beings you'll ever meet. He's got great opinions on some of the upcoming changes and shares a lot of experience with us. So without further ado, Steve, how you doing today?
Steve Dolan 2:42
Doing great. Vince, thank you so much to you and Joe for having me. Looking forward to it.
Vince Kern 2:46
Yeah. So Steve, you're you're one of an example of somebody who sort of got into his dream career at an early age. Can you can you tell us a little bit about how you got started with with stats,
Steve Dolan 3:02
actually events. I started in 1971, which was my junior football season in El Capitan High School at Lakeside, California. I was a team statistician, my junior and senior years. My senior year, there was a local people in the backcountry trader, they wanted somebody to write a story about the high school football team. So they said, Hey, this guy is a statistician, and this guy is taken journalism over at El Capitan, the high school. And you may ask, Well, what was he doing a senior year writing for the school newspaper? Well, simple story during my junior year of high school, one of my teachers said to me say you don't see you. I think they're pretty good, right? I'm like, okay, he says, Tell you what, next year in journalism, we got a new teacher. She's young, and she's beautiful. And I'm like, I'm in. I was it.
That was it. It's all it took.
Vince Kern 3:53
Okay, so you started doing stats for the football team. And then what happened?
Steve Dolan 3:58
Well, I actually did stats with a football team for a couple years. And then my senior year playing high school baseball, I led a met a man named Bill Dickens Bill was a sports editor of a local paper called The Daily California. Four days after high school, I was actually working at a daily newspaper, sitting there from four to midnight taking the phone calls high school basketball during the summer, high school baseball during the summer. You name it, took the calls, wrote the stories, and it was history from there. Wow, that's exciting. You were 18 years old, and you are already kind of living a dream. Exactly. Joe, I mean, I'm just so lucky. I mean, to be that age, to be 18 When I started there, even before that when I was 17 to have started in the Padres press box. It just it was a dream come true. I mean, if you told me that's what's gonna happen, I would have never said Are you kidding?
Joe Luther 4:46
Well, and I guess I want to dig a little deeper into that because a lot of kids at 18 years old are pretty afraid to do much of anything and you got submersed right into kind of an intimidating dream type job.
Steve Dolan 5:00
It was it was very intimidating, especially in the times when the daily California would send me down, or the back country trader would send me down to cover the Padres. Because being that age in the press box, very intimidating. I remember one night for a game, I was in the press box having dinner, of course, sitting by myself, all of a sudden, these two riders for the Montreal Expos, they come down, they say to me, Can we sit with you? I'm like, of course. And that was all it took to know that people cared about me. It's a story of 50 years later that I carry. If you see somebody young, if you see somebody who may look a little intimidated or out of place, go talk to him. That's what somebody did to me. And 50 years later, I'm still in it. So try to be an example for something they helped you feel like you belong. And here you are. 50 years later. Isn't that amazing? When you think of the ripple effects of that, that's awesome, and obviously made quite an impact on you. It definitely did Joe the fact of the matter, these two guys who I had no idea. I mean, again, they were the Montreal Expos, which from San Diego was the furthest team away. They didn't know be from whoever was sitting in the third row on the price level. But they came over to me, said hi, had a conversation made me feel comfortable. And from that on it was just like, wow, people care about me now. It's my job to care about others.
Joe Luther 6:22
That's an awesome story.
Vince Kern 6:24
So So Steve, you covered the Padres in 1984. And that, of course was the year that they went to the World Series and played against jouin in my hometown, Detroit Tigers, who had an amazing season that year. And so you actually came to Detroit and covered the Padres? What, what was that? What was that like traveling with the team and you know, coming to Detroit during the World Series that must have been an exciting time.
Steve Dolan 6:53
And it was an incredible experience. I mean to be at the World Series having traveled with a team all that year, because as you know, 1984 the Padres they won the western division by a lot. That was also the year they had the big Beat Board Atlanta so people remember them for that. But when I remember Vince traveling with the team then with a Padres left Atlanta on the final day of the regular season to go to Chicago to play the Cubs before they played the Tigers. I remember going on the team plane, we get off the airport in Chicago. You've got all these TV cameras looking right at you. Yeah, and I mean, I used to hang out a lot with Steve Garvey and I was about to write next regardless of course you got on local TV because you're hanging out next to Darby the one guy they want to interview and then of course like you say the Padres lost two games the Cubs, but then they won the next three and then they go to Detroit to play the Tigers after splitting the two games in San Diego. One thing I remember about that Tigers team. Of course your shortstop Alan Trammell is from San Diego he was a legend of Kearney high school in the city. And I mean yell at him and Lou Whitaker so double play combination that great Tigers team that of course, started the season with 35 wins and five losses so I know the World Series. Padres don't have much chance and again after the split and San Diego figured they're probably going to lose three straight in Detroit, which they did. But interesting story after game four. Before game five oh boss who the LA Times all we were walking the streets in downtown Detroit as you know where Tiger Stadium is and all I can remember the store owner saying to us, we want the tigers to win the World Series. But we want the tigers to win the World Series in San Diego. Why? Because if they went here, a lot is going to happen. As you know a lot happened. You saw the buildings go down the cop cars, etc. So the owners they got their wish from the Tigers won the World Series but they didn't get their wish when they want it in Detroit. Yeah, for those of you who are too young to remember the front page picture was of a young guy face down in the grass in the outfield of Tiger Stadium passed out and there was quite a bit of pillaging and car burning and other things that happened.
Joe Luther 9:01
I thought to Vinci we're gonna talk about the picture that I remember in the newspaper of a guy on top of and a police car that was burning upside down. Yeah. So yeah, there was some shenanigans that happened after the 84 World Series. But that was Yeah, kind of unbridled joy. They got a little out of hand. Yeah. So what's that? What was it like? You mentioned flying with the team and all that what was that like as a as a as a young guy traveling around the country.
Steve Dolan 9:31
It was an exciting experience. Because again, growing up I was like so many guys, I wanted to be that player but found out in high school. I certainly wasn't good enough to be that player who's going to make the Major League so it was really very interesting flying with a team. I mean, pretty much when you're on the plane, everybody stays to themselves. It's not like a bunch of conversations at all, but the manager of the Padres then of course when they got the World Series with Dick Williams, Dick, as I look back was a master manipulator. He could be really nice to you and he
To be really, really rude to you, but he always got his message across. I mean, I can remember one time on the plane or ask him about a pitcher who had in Cincinnati, walked two batters in a row deck, went out and talked to him, and he got out of the inning. And I said, Dick, what did you say that guy we went out, he said, I told him, if you don't start throwing strikes, your butt is going to be so far in the minor leagues, you're never going to get back here. So it's interesting because a lot of those off the field conversation certainly were better than after the game, the press budget, you got the old, we didn't hit with runners in scoring position. You know, we did a great job feeling blah, blah, blah. That's a really get the good stuff away from the field, you are on the inside. And if you think about especially, because I remember in the 1984 World Series, you know, just to be at the game was everybody's dream in Metro Detroit. And you're not only at the game at every game, you're behind the lines, and you're not only behind the lines, you're right there seeing all of these interesting things up close and personal. Did you ever get to the point where you were like you started taking it for granted.
Never wanted to take it for granted, Joe because again, growing up I've been such a big baseball fan, that I didn't want to lose that novelty. I mean, I can remember an ad for after the Tigers won game five to win the World Series. I can still remember running with Sparky Anderson was in the Tigers manager from centerfield for Tigers clubhouse, when he was at a golf cart because I wanted to interview him. Then when I got the clubhouse that was lucky enough the LA Times I worked for them. My story after game five was taught to Kirk Gibson. And as you know, Kirk Gibson hit the winning home run this story was a Padres management TIG Williams went out to Gustafsson and said it goes, you got to walk Gibson, the pitch of the next guy who said no, I'm going to fix the Gibson and get them out. Gibson got it out. All right.
Vince Kern 11:52
And of the World Series, basically. Yeah, that was yeah, that was part of the whole excitement that I think helped the city erupt. Yeah, baseball fans here have watched the video of that conversation at the mound over and over and over again. And I don't know if you know this, but Sparky and Gibson had a bet, Sparky, they had a bet. Smokey said five bucks, he's gonna walk you and Gibson said no, he's gonna pitch to me. And the reason Gibson said he was going to pitch to him was because the first time he faced him in the Major League, he struck him out on three pitches. So Gossage was bullheaded, and Gibson, knew what was coming. And that's a legendary homerun in Detroit. So you're in the press box, and you're doing this job now it's been 50 years. So you've been around some of the some a lot of your heroes, right as as a childhood person, because the Padres are your hometown team. And then you've also met some of the broadcasting heroes. Can you talk a little bit about you know, some of the, the people that you've met that inspire you or stick with you,
Steve Dolan 12:56
as far as a player I mentioned it earlier was Steve Garvey because back in the day, when we took the team bus, the two in front of the ballpark. The first row was four rows, where the manager coaches and the media and then from row five onwards, the players, Garvey always sat in row five because he would talk to me because remember, at that time, there was rumors that Steve Garvey was going to get into politics. So obviously, you got to know the media and all that never worked out as far as politics, but I remember Garvey and certainly Tony Gwynn from San Diego because I covered him and San Diego State, not as a baseball player but as a basketball player. As a matter of fact, Tony win the basketball player still holds the all time assists record at San Diego State, which is a pretty darn good team now the ranked in the top 20 in the nation. As far as broadcasters events I've really been blessed to have worked with for them. Of course, I've worked as visiting with Vin Scully with the Dodgers, Harry calles with Philadelphia Phillies, Dave Niehaus, with the Seattle Mariners and of course locally Dick Enberg. I think the one that I remember the most, of course, would be Vin Scully, because, you know, he passed away within the last year and all from what I've heard. Vin Scully out here is basically like for Ernie Harwell affair in Detroit. Yeah, Ben was great to work with the thing about Vim. Such a pleasant man, you talked about being intimidated. The first time I worked with him, I was told I was gonna work with him. scoli I was like, I'm working on Vince Kali. And you know, I mean, I was just so intimidated, but he was just so nice. I mean, after every time I would work a series with the Dodgers and the Padres in San Diego with Vin Scully after the series then would come up and say, Steve, it was a pleasure working with you and I would say, Are you kidding with me? You're going It's why Why isn't that supposed to be my line? Yes. Yeah, exactly. He stole it from me tell these guys are all the guys you mentioned are all in the Hall of Fame for broadcasters now, right? Yes, correct. Yeah. Well, you know, it's it's funny you say that, Steve, because in my path I actually did
Unknown Speaker 15:00
To have the opportunity to meet Ernie Harwell a couple of times, is a member of the media and I've met a lot of different celebrities in my career but I gotta tell you the one that made my knees shake the most with admiration was was Ernie Harwell? There was just something about him. That was pure goodness. And from what I hear Vince Kelly was the same way. Oh, absolutely event. Because the thing I remember about Vin Scully, as a kid, I've always loved people to score buck as a kid. Before the San Diego Padres were major league team. I used to go to bed every night listening to the Dodgers out of LA and listening to Vin Scully keeping a score book as a kid. And then, you know, some
Steve Dolan 15:42
what, 30 years later, I'm sitting next to Vince Sculley keeping a scoreboard for him. I mean, oh, my gosh, talk about what are the odds of that? Not quite winning the lottery, but close? Yeah. That's pretty good. Hey, you know, I wanted to ask about that. That was one of the thoughts, thoughts that I had,
Joe Luther 15:59
kind of thinking about this interview. And that is, when I was a kid growing up. I used to, you know, in fact, that was a very common souvenir to buy, when my dad would take me to a baseball game is the official score book, and then to keep score live while the game is going on. And I look around, and there'll be a lot of kids just like me keeping score. And I'm wondering, is that still a thing? Do kids still do that? I'm not sure, Joe. I don't think so. Not so much. This was really sad. A couple years ago, a friend of mine who used to work for local CBS News out here in San Diego, he moved to Texas. And he's writing a book and he said, Steve, can you get me a program at the San Diego Padres and send it to me, I'd like to have for my book. I went to customer service in the Padre game. And they're like, We don't have a program anymore.
Steve Dolan 16:52
So it's really sad. Sometimes it was in the back of the of the regular program. Yeah. And yeah, they don't even do that. Yeah, no, I mean, anymore. I mean, you'll remember you got the program and have all sorts of stories about yours and all bad you'd have in the middle of a team rosters with a score book and all that and you don't get that anymore. That's disappointing to me. Yeah. Which is, which is ironic, because
Joe Luther 17:16
both baseball Of course, we're going to ask about the how the statistics of baseball change after Billy Beane and the Moneyball. But sports in general has become so addicted to data and statistics. And in now, though, it really isn't as big a part of, of the fan experience, like it used to be. I wonder what that is? Do you think it's maybe the digital age? There's because it's it's so available on your phone and your personal.
Steve Dolan 17:51
You know, you can pretty much look up anything on the phone, because before I remember, you know, before we had the internet, I would be at a baseball game, and I couldn't I literally couldn't remember if my favorite player, you know, was one for two or, or, you know, one for three or or over three. So part of the fun was keeping track of it. So you knew what was going on, on a live basis. I guess maybe now, it's easy to keep track of that data with a phone. It is I mean, the digital age shows made it so much different. But I think what we've really lost over the years is what's called the eye test. What you see I think of now Bruce Bochy, who used to manage here in San Diego, remember, he won three World Series and five years for the Giants. He weren't in 2010 12 and 14, bocce managed by his gut. And it's gonna be interesting now that he's coming back to the Texas Rangers next year, if he's still going to be able to do that, or if it's all going to be analytics driven, because I know back in the day, if you were the manager in the Detroit Tigers, you made the lineup out but now you know, the general manager, the analytics people and all that and I'll say like, Joe can't pitch the third time around. He can pitch to 18 batters but the third time around a 9030. Can't do it. Look what happened the World Series with Blake Snell, a couple years ago. He's with the Padres now. Here he is in the sixth inning against Tampa Bay. He's pitching a one hit shutout win and one to nothing and they won't let him pitch the third time around and what happens the bullpen collapses Tampa Bay loses the Dodgers won the World Series. Well, the sad thing is Snell has a one hitter going he's thrown like 73 pitches, let him pitch but there's analytic stuff. I think sometimes you can overanalyze to me. If a guy's doing well, and he started looking at Zack Wheeler last year in game six of the World Series this year. He's thrown 70 pitches. He's winning one to nothing but lefty come up against lefties. His manager brings in a lefty and what happens? Sure enough the lefty hits a homerun off the lefty Zack Wheeler leaves one nothing leads so many pitches. His reliever gives it up game series over you can analyze and he's got it he's got
Vince Kern 20:00
He's got to speak to the media and take the team, the team angle, even though he's probably eaten up inside because he could have no he could have got it. But hey, you know, so that's, that brings me to an interesting part of what we wanted to talk about, which is when you started doing stats for the Padres way back,
Steve Dolan 20:20
you know, it was all done by hand. Right? What do you keep track of as a statistician and how do those other things get accomplished? Let me start real quick first, without for instance, like when you're watching Valley's sports in Detroit when Okay, when Miguel Cabrera hits her home run, why the way is he on that bottom line, you know, 383 feet one or 3.7 miles per hour, that's all kept by somebody in the production truck. They do all that and just so you know, the people that production strike for truck for a TV game, they get there about six hours early, so that that stuff you're seeing during the fifth inning about you know, this is the fourth best hitting team in the American League, whatever. Well in advance if they're not doing that on the fly, but as far as personally for stats, big thing now is pitch counts because again, guys are coming out after 8090 pitches. I know for instance, in San Diego, Donald cielo and Don very well known of course, he did the Boston Red Sox for 15 years. He does a lot on Fox and TBS. First is Don's really of the pitch counts after everything make sure you get to the pitch count. Anytime an inning is under 10 pitches you need to give it the analysis for right away so on the air they'll say that was a nine pitch Channing by Vince Kern, or that was an eight pitch inning by Joe Luthor. And then also then they'll want to know either like the 20th or 25th pitch coming. That's a lot of what you do early in the game as a game so it goes on. They're looking for, you know, defensive changes right away who's up in the bullpen, you'll see like on Valley sports backyard, they'll show who's on deck. They'll always say you know who's on deck, make sure it's a guy make sure it's not a pinch hitter. There sees like runners in scoring position trends during the game like you know, three of the last four batters runners on base of struck out things like that. Big ones runners in scoring position being like what does the team do when they've got Runners on second and third. And then one thing I learned this year, too, sometimes it's not just that there was one game this year where the San Diego was over four of runners in scoring position, but they were over 12 with anybody on base because guys kept leading off the ending with a hit and then he goes strikeout strikeout strikeout, that's not a runner in scoring position, that's three times you got to run around base and not get a hit. So those are the type things you're looking for those in a lot more, I actually got to be doing a game to go through everything you do. But that's kind of a general out. So it's talking points for the announcers in the in the color commentators on the fly during the game. Yeah. And that makes it so much more interesting. Because truthfully, I'm always interested in the pitch count, you hear you hear a pitcher's in the fifth inning, the first thought I have is okay, is he in the fifth inning about to come out or is in the fifth inning cruising along? You know, exactly, that's why I put on the screen, your pitch counts by ending at 120 to 1210 and eight, you know, things like that. I mean, another thing you got to do to as a statistician is listen to the analysis, what they're talking about, if all of a sudden they're talking about, hey, unless like you know, looks like the Tigers are really doing Wow, whenever they got runners on base, why didn't Why do you want to have them on the No, no Tigers or five or seven runners in scoring position? So a lot of being a statistician is playing off. What do you hear the announcers say? That's what they want from you too, is that again, you know, if they're saying something, have something to back it up. So is it safe to say that you're the guy in the win? Sometimes you hear it on the broadcast, you hear the voice coming over the loudspeaker. So like, you know, do you broadcast it over the loudspeaker what you're trying to communicate? Or are you in their ear with a microphone? How does that work? No, I'm actually I'm sitting next to the main announcer ever sat here with us Don are silhouettes, you're hearing over the on TV, the voiceover that you're hearing, that's actually what's called the official score, he or she are the ones that are telling you like it was a double air nine burner third, or you know, they give you pitch counts, they're the ones who actually are calling the hits and the errors and that type of thing. Whereas my job is sitting next to the announcer giving them notes, what's going on during the game, you know, let them know, again, backing up what they're saying or giving them the things we've been talking about, because so you're right, and you're right next to them, you're in proximity, and you're working directly with them, whether it's verbal or right. Some of you might write up a note or something like that. You know, I think it's really fascinating about the analytics and the way the game has been changing. And next year, there's a lot of new rules, right? I mean, they've really done some, some big changes, and I've got a list of them here. And I kind of want to talk about him and get your opinion because you've watched the game from the press box for over 50 years now and you've seen a lot of things.
Vince Kern 24:58
So next year, let's
Start with the pitch timer next year there's going to be a pitch timer and it says that pitchers will have up to 15 seconds between pitches when the bases are empty and 20 seconds between pitches with at least one runner on base. Now, according to you know what I've researched here, they've tested this in the minor league, but what are your thoughts on the pitch count timing?
Steve Dolan 25:26
Vince, I think it's going to cause a lot of chaos especially at the beginning of the season because I would say, fewer much fewer than 50% of pitchers deliver a ball within 15 seconds. I don't for instance, this year when the Padres are playing St. Louis, Giovanni Gago, so relief goods are used taking about 35 seconds between pitches. And he's not an anomaly. I know, walking that walk we used to pitch for the Tigers used to pitch for the padres 30 seconds easy out, I think it's gonna be especially the bullpen guys. Because when they come in, they're going to work one ending and they're thinking about every pitch, it's going to be really controversial too. Because again, after the final throw the pitch within 15 seconds, it's a ball. And that's it's going to be chaotic, because again, after the guy's not gonna throw within 15 seconds, it's going to be a ball. So he's going to argue it's gonna shorten the game, but I'm just not sure how much but again, in the beginning, it's going to be hard to adapt to that pitch clock, especially for relief. So that speaks to the transition. There's, you know, growing pains with all new rules. And this is obviously going to be a big one, because pitchers like you say it's a heavy, heavy position, I think, you know, next to golf.
Joe Luther 26:34
That's probably got to be the, you know, the position that well, and the hitter, if there's baseball in general has a lot of thinking going on in between each pitch. And the idea, obviously is a good one to speed it up for the for the viewer.
But it will be interesting to see during the transition, how it goes. But what do you think, in the long run? Do you think speeding it up is going to make the the viewer experience better?
Steve Dolan 27:05
If indeed it works, do I think it will because one of the tough things about baseball now it seems like virtually every game is going well over three hours. I mean, a major league baseball game, which is played every day, takes longer than the National Football League game, which is played once a week and I think it's an issue is viewership down. I'm just asking us in general, how do you know if viewership is down in general? I know it has been for the World Series. This year's World Series, I believe is the second lowest ever. The only one lower was during the pandemic year in 2020. Between the you know, the Dodgers year that they beat Tampa Bay, so viewership is definitely down. And probably the MLB knows that one of the common criticisms is that it just is it's a long and slow kind of a game. I I personally have that same criticism for the NFL, I think it's very slow in between each play to it definitely is I mean in baseball. That's of course why, during the pandemic, you're again in 2020. Remember starting extra innings with a runner on second base. Well, yeah, I know that traditionalists. They all say You know, that's not baseball, and I get it. But as a guidance every day. One thing I will say when they start that 10th inning with a runner on second base, I'd say more than half the games are done within one to two innings. I mean, I know San Diego and La played a 16 in a game in 2021. And it was the longest game of the year. And before that when you went out of the run on second start the ending 18 end game for common. Yeah, well, let's keep moving through some of these new changes because there's a lot of big ones here. One that I'm totally in favor as it says that the hitter will only be able to receive one timeout per plate appearance. So you know we won't have a lot of the in and out of the box and they have to be in there within eight seconds of the of the clock. So that's they're also putting a little bit of it back on the hitter.
Unknown Speaker 28:54
Another thing, the thing that I found one of the things I found really fascinating is they're getting rid of the shift. So the game will be back to a more traditional defensive posturing and where I think all of the two infielders must be positioned on each side of second base when the pitch is released, he can't have them all on one side, and all four of them must have both feet within the outer boundary of the infield, so they can't go out on the outfield grass anymore while the pitcher is on the rubber so what do you think about that? That's a huge change, isn't it? It definitely isn't. It's I'll tell you that people it's got to help the most are left handed hitters because think about it. We left handers are up. You always have that third infield on the right hand side. I can remember for instance, a couple of years ago when the Padres were playing in Texas, Manny Machado the third baseman caught a fly ball 10 feet in front of the home rockin wall, the third baseman. So I think it's really going to help the left handed batters. I'll give you a good example and again, I'd be in San Diego here. Why
Steve Dolan 30:00
Soto the big name the Padres got from Washington this year. I'm on headset with a couple of guys every game and every time Soto came up, our big joke was just put four to three in the score, but he was going to grind out for me in second base, he was going to grind out the second baseman that was halfway out right field. But now with two guys in the right hand side, those are going to be base hits instead of ground balls to second base, that's gonna be a big change if I could. One thing about it, though, that disappointed me. These guys never learned how to beat the chef. It's kind of like you're playing football. If, if you're a running team and the other team has nine, then on the line will then learn how to throw it over them. So you beat that. And baseball can be a good example I saw Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers, a left handed hitter had a terrible year but he had a game against the Padres where the Padres have that ship. Three guys on the right side, the third baseman shortstop, he did a check, swing, get a slow ground ball to third base and got a double.
Joe Luther 30:59
Yes, that's what we were taught as kids in it, whether or not and that's why I'm taught as kids, right? Yeah, I'm not a professional baseball expert. But my personal feeling as a professional baseball fan, is what you just said what you know, if you're going to shift everybody over for crying out loud, hit it to the field where nobody is. Yeah. And you know, the question I have for you, though, Steve, is you said it's going to help left handed hitters are left handed hitters, because I assume the shift is more for all hitters. You know, people who don't know how to hit opposite field. So
Steve Dolan 31:35
is that more common with left handed hitters? Are they more than the pull hitter? I think left handers are more than pull hitters job? And that's a good question. Because why hinders our team? Because a lot of times this year, if you're not the ball game, you're watching on TV or a right handed hitter, ground ball off the ventilator like that's a basic to center field. No, it's a ground ball to the second base we use just to learn second base, but I'm one I mean, most people say bam, the shift because of this. But so you know what I mean? We will when we were kids, I was on a high school team, we were taught like if you're batting and I'm running for first base, second baseman is covering second. So we were taught how you hit a slow ground ball with a second baseman. But these guys nowadays, they don't practice fundamentals. I'll get I'll give you an example. I remember I was watching the Milwaukee Brewers one day, they were in San Diego, they had one guy, baddie 10 batting practice pitches. He had eight bond fly balls and two home runs. And I'm like, no wonder in the game. He's not going to hit a line drive single kids. He's not practicing it. Well, you know what, it's your thing, your practice, what you preach. And if your preach hit line drives and batting practice as you're going through the game, but nobody does that anymore. Where's Rod Carew when you need them?
Joe Luther 32:43
Steve Dolan 32:45
Tony, Glen, because that is the thing, Joe, that's a good point. When he was here, Tony has a left hand we always joked he hit the ball into the 5.545 being third base six being shortstop. Tony mastered the ground ball between short and third. And that's what these guys can't do nowadays, because again, they can't find you know, they don't practice binding, I believe I heard that was the Atlanta Braves and have a sacrifice burn all year. And you know, again, if you don't practice the hit and run, you're not gonna be able to hit a ground ball where the guy isn't, you know, nowadays, up Jeremy Pena, their World Series MVP, remember one of the playoff games anywhere, a fly ball went into his glove and popped out he almost dropped it. But we were all taught to catch with two hands. If that second hand is on top of the glove, it pushes that ball back there just I hate to say there just no fundamentals fundamentals. But I guess I guess with MLB thinking is, you know, people want to see scoring people want to see excitement, they don't want to see a shift where, you know, everybody's getting out and they want more runs. So guys guys are hitting the ball, you know, really hard to the right side of the infield, I mean, their exit velocity 110 miles an hour, and there's some guy standing out in the outfield, picking it up and throwing it to first.
Vince Kern 33:57
Here's one that I actually kind of laugh about a little bit. The bigger bases, we're gonna have bigger bases next year. And, okay, so so, you know, you gotta, you gotta have a rationale for everything. They're gonna go from 15 inch square to 18 inch square. And what they say is that that will reduce the distance between first and second and second and third by four and a half inches. And that's gonna, that's going to mean more attempted steals. Now, obviously, that's a real advantage to the runner because he's got less distance or, or she put modern terminology has got more distance, less distance to cover, and so they'll get there quicker, but really, I don't know, what do you think about that?
Steve Dolan 34:49
I don't buy it, you know, three inches bigger. I mean, there are bangbang plays where guys may be out by fewer than three inches. But on the other hand, what's going to increase stolen bases and that maybe
We'll get to it later. But the pitcher can only have so many pickoff throws that will increase stolen bases. Right. As far as a basic being three inches bigger, the better route is going to be for safety reasons and all that. I don't know. I mean, I mean, it's been that way forever. And I don't think that many guys got hurt on the basis, you know, tripping on the base because it was only 15 inch instead of 18 inches if that's happened. I don't know if any of those see that out. Yeah, no, I haven't seen it too often. I've seen you know, occasionally, any of the ideas the first basements foot is covering not enough of its covering too much of the plate that there isn't anywhere for the runner to get to first is that the idea? That's part of the idea but again, how often you really see that the only time you really see the first base is when grandpa the first base and the first baseman positive the pitcher, the pitcher in the runner cool. I could see that as far as the actual what they're talking about. I'm not so sure. So those are but that's a lot of big changes all at once. And one of the things that has also come up I don't think it's being implemented yet. But the electronic strike zone where it's just a digital box and the umpire isn't calling balls and strike talk. Can you tell us a little bit about that? Or do you have knowledge of that being tested or, or implemented or what's going on? It's been implemented in some of the lower minor leagues. I'll tell you what, Joe events to be honest with you I like to lowball I think umpires nowadays are just really bad on balls and strikes. I've seen pitchers throw four pitches in the exact same spot as ball two Strike two offers in the same spot. Either it's ball four, strike four, if there was such a thing. I know we had the primaries had a game of Miami and 2021. For the home plate empire, Doug Eddings was so bad. They said he missed 17 calls. I mean, he was calling balls strikes and strikes balls. And he kicked three guys out of the game. And I was at the point where I'm like, the person who really needs to be kicked out of this game is Duggan. It doesn't.
Joe Luther 37:01
Wouldn't that be great? So what have you had? Well, what if he had sort of a hybrid model where you to the digital box, the digital strike zone box, and you had the umpire? And if the umpire made, you know, X amount of mistakes, he just got the ejection. I call for it. I'd be all for the rest of the games gonna be called by the by the digital box completely. Yeah, I think, you know, tennis is implemented using the, you know, the replay the electronic replay very easily. And it works beautifully. And it works fast. I think technology really is at the point now where we can do the robo umpire as you say, and it would probably move things along a little quicker. And there's certainly be a lot less arguing from the umpires. I mean, not from the umpires from the managers.
Steve Dolan 37:54
Who would you yell at? Yeah, were you gonna yell at the computer? I mean, you know, it's funny to think we do that all the time now anyway, so why not? Yeah, there's actually something this is interesting. I know, in the Arizona falling, there's, they're even taking it one step further. They've got
where they're calling the balls and strikes. And, you know, still umpires but they've also got that box, you know, the robo box. So this reveals, you'll see on TV the square,
you get three challenges. Like for instance, if if, Joe, if you're batting and they call a strike on you, but you think the pitch is low, you can actually challenge it, and they can tell right away whether you're right or wrong. The problem is, after three challenges, you're out of it. And then now that I can call a pizza, the dirt strike on you, but I found that maybe that's taking a little bit too far. But I mean, I'm all for the vocal nerves because like I say umpires nowadays are just so inconsistent. And you know, I mean, I remember, like I was in high school, we had one on parties and best up higher ever had, every pitch three inches below was a strike. But every pitch three inches below was a strike knees, and you knew it. It wasn't like, if the guy threw it there three times would be Baldwin and strike two. That's all you can ask and you don't get.
And you do other sports, though, too. You do like San Diego State sports for CBS or Fox. A quick question because are other sports using analytics and sabermetrics as much as baseball or? or is it mostly baseball and some of them aren't? Don't lend themselves to it. I think, you know, as far as from a TV standpoint, I think baseball mostly, but again, I mean, when you're talking like college football or college basketball, you know, like in college football, they can do the analytics to like, you know, Vince, your team on third and to that 89% of the time, you're gonna pass and 70% of the time, you're gonna be running left on that. So, you know, there's a lot of analytics there, too. But I don't think it's emphasized as much as in baseball. I think baseball is probably the one that for lack of better words, it will almost analyze you to death, so to speak. Yeah, well
Vince Kern 40:00
You know, I could talk baseball all day. And it's really been a pleasure to have you on the show, Steve, I guess I want to wind down the interview by asking you, what would you say to somebody who's, who's young and starting out in the business of whether it's, you know, sports journalism or what you're doing? What advice would you give them after 50 years of all the things you've done,
Steve Dolan 40:27
never lose your passion for it, because I see a lot of guys in the press box or just our radio. Yeah, never lose your passion. And another thing, network because Vince, I know for instance, like with a TV, I got into a, not through a resume or anything with the guy who was doing the Padres was a friend of mine, and he needed a backup one year and I did a few games for him, it worked out. So by networking and getting to know these people, you may, you know, maybe you're going to be doing a job that I'm not gonna say that jobs are theirs, maybe they'd be considered the, quote, lesser jobs, you know, you might be doing things, you're not going to be sitting next to the announcers, or you're not gonna be the cameraman, or camera woman, or you're not gonna be the stage manager, give them stuff to the analysis. And you don't, don't be afraid to start at the bottom and work your way up. Because once you're in and if people liked you, you're going to advance. That's really good advice. Because I think too often people have dreams to do something like what you're doing, you know, young kids have dreamed to do something like what you're doing, but they don't think that they're able to achieve it. And in your case, it was just the passion of wanting to do any part of it. And then once you got involved, you took it from there. Definitely jokes I used to always say to people, for instance, when the charges used to be in San Diego, I'd always say, Hey, if you want to get into business, that's great. But you're not going to be covering the charges. On Sunday afternoon. You're going to be covering the El Capitan Santana, high school football game on Friday night. I mean, for instance, out here we have a show called the PPR, which is the prep, pigskin report. It's on every Friday night short, all the high school football games out here in the San Diego area. We're not the best in the country for high school football, but it's probably the best high school football star in the country. A lot of people who started by you know, just being out there running film from whatever. They're the big time people. Now again, it's it's the old cliche, get your foot in the door. You're good. You'll work your way up and you'll be there one day. Awesome. Don't be afraid to work the four to midnight, because that's how you get ahead. Right. Exactly. Well, Steve, I want to thank you so much for being with us on our show. It's it's been great. I don't anticipate a San Diego Detroit World Series next year. But in the event that there is one, I promise you that Joe and I will come out to San Diego and maybe you can get us in the press box.
Joe Luther 42:55
I'll give that a try. At the very least I can show you the Gaslamp District, which you'll always see from San Diego when there's a game here. Yeah, great. Well, thanks, Steve. Joe, do you have anything to add? No, it's awesome. I tell you what, Steve, you I can feel your childhood enthusiasm still coming through. And that's awesome. All these years. 50 years later, you've been recognized in your town, and recognized by your peers. And in having spoken to you today I can see why because you have a great sense of enthusiasm, and a great dedication to the game and it was really fun talking to you. Well, thank you, Joe, and thank you vets. And as I would always want to say to Vince sculling a pleasure truly has been my
Vince Kern 43:39
Wow, what a guy. So thank you everyone for listening to another episode of Friends in wonder. We hope you enjoyed it. We've got the holidays, barking at our door. But Joe and I have some great episodes coming up. So join us again next week. And if you want to leave any kind of feedback, or check us out at friends in wonder.com, or shoot us an email at talk at friends in wonder.com. We'd love to hear from you. Thanks for being with us. And it's a great day for a ballgame. Until next time. I'm Joe. And I'm Vince. We're friends and one