Sandy Alderson talks international baseball on "Chatter Up!"
Sandy Alderson speaks to “Chatter Up!” attendees on July 16. Alderson spoke on a wide variety of topics, including the minor leagues, international baseball competition, and his hatred of the shift. Photo Credit: Shane Barclay

Sandy Alderson, the former General Manager of the Oakland Athletics and New York Mets, joined JapanBall’s “Chatter Up!” on July 16 to discuss his outsider approach to baseball, as well as his journeys to the different corners of the baseball world, including Australia, the Dominican Republic, and even Japan. 

Shane:

Well, welcome. I’m just going to give an introduction here, for those of you who don’t know Sandy’s breadth of experience. Most people know him for running the A’s throughout the 80s and 90s, where he built three pennant winners and won the ‘89 World Series against Giants; and then also known as the Mets GM from 2010 to 2018, where he took the franchise from a laughingstock in a financial scandal [with] the Madoffs into a World Series team. For those efforts with the Mets, he was Sporting News Executive of the Year, but those GM accomplishments are hardly the only noticeable parts of Sandy’s resume and Sandy, bear with me, it’s not my fault that you have done a lot of stuff.

Sandy:

Yeah, please keep it short, will ya [laughs]?

Shane:

I’ll try to run through it. I just want to make sure people get a full breadth so we can have an interesting conversation. So, [the] military was a big part of his life growing up; his dad was a pilot, Sandy was in the Marine Corps, at Dartmouth, he was in ROTC and played baseball there. And then he enlisted and served a tour of duty in Vietnam and was put on the leadership track in the Marine Corps, serving in various prestigious positions and units. But then he moved on to Harvard Law School, which led to him working with a group that eventually bought the A’s from Charlie O. Finley, and [then] became GM of the A’s after that; kind of one of the first non-baseball men to run an MLB team. They were at the forefront of the modern revolution, so you traditionalists can love him or hate him for it, but they were one of the first teams to use computers and employ the Bill James methods and whatnot. There were a lot of firsts like the first team with a weight room, a mental skills coach. I think as far as I know, when you hired Billy Beane to be the GM under you, you’re the first team to kind of use that hierarchy with the President and GM that all the teams are doing nowadays. So Sandy groomed Billy Beane to replace him then left for the Commissioner’s Office where he was in charge of Baseball Operations, working with the umpires and improving the integrity of umpiring in the Major Leagues and doing various international projects; we’ll talk a lot more about those international projects later. Then he went to the Padres, where he was CEO of the Padres; they won a couple NL West titles. But then the team was sold and the new guy made himself CEO so Sandy moved on. And then he spent some time at Cal-Berkeley teaching. And that’s the reason why we’re here today with Sandy teaching while I was there, we’ll talk more about that later as well. And then he moved on [with] another stint at the Commissioner’s Office to clean up things in the Dominican Republic before the Mets hired him, and was with the Mets till 2018. Now he is an advisor with the A’s back with his old protege, Billy Beane. So was that quick enough for you, Sandy? It’s not easy.

Sandy:

Appreciate it.

Shane: 

I did the best I could. So let’s just jump right into it. When you first confirmed that you’d be willing to join us, I figured it’d be a good time to read Steve Kettman’s book that I had on my shelf about you for a while, and I couldn’t believe it. When I opened up the book, the first paragraph of the first chapter is talking about you being in Japan, living in Osaka and your baseball experience there. So if I’m not mistaken, were your first experiences playing baseball and watching baseball in Japan?

Sandy:

Yes. So first of all, I’m very happy to be here tonight guys. I hope we have some fun and looking forward to your questions and virtually no topic [is] off-limits. So hopefully you can hear me and we’ll have some fun. So my father was an Air Force pilot; he flew in World War Two, he flew in Korea and after Korea was transferred to a base in Japan. At that time, my family came out from Denver, Colorado, and I lived in a place called Hamadera [Park] in Osaka for about a year and a half. First baseball experience, playing Little League was in Japan, but also playing against Japanese kids. And this was sort of immediate post-war within 10 years or so, but they were great, we weren’t as good. But the one memorable baseball event was a barnstorming tour by the Yankees in 1955 and my father took me to a game in Osaka, I believe it was in Osaka, between a Japanese All-Star team and the Yankees. What I remember from that game is only one thing, and it’s ironic because Billy Martin was the manager of the A’s much later when I was there, but Billy Martin was playing third base that day. He was getting razzed by the crowd on the third base side, which is where we were sitting. I remember him turning, finally getting so teed off of the crowd, he turned and yelled some things back and at that very moment, at least in my memory, a Japanese player hit the line shot right past him. So it was one of those Billy Martin moments. 35 years later, Billy Martin was the manager of the A’s at a time when ultimately, I had to fire him. So it’s a small world.

Shane:

Wow. So you had a lot of Billy Martin moments throughout your lifetime.

Sandy:

Well, Billy Martin was the manager of the A’s when I got into baseball in 1981. I had come from the Marine Corps, so I was used to a sort of more disciplined, structured environment and Billy Martin was just a wild man. Of course, being exposed to him for the first few months, I thought, well, ‘Gee, I guess this is just the way they do it in baseball. This is a completely different world.’ And as it turned out, I realized, over the next succeeding months was that ‘No, this isn’t the way baseball is. This is the way Billy Martin is.’ It was a turbulent year and a half. Billy was a great manager, but one of the things I like to talk about from time to time is leadership, and unfortunately, Billy was a tremendous professional manager, but his personal qualities always undermined him eventually. To sustain leadership, you’ve got to have both professional expertise, acumen and some personal qualities that support that professionalism. Unfortunately, the personal qualities often eventually caught up with Billy. Now, on the other hand, I don’t think he was happy in Oakland anyway, wanted to go back to New York, and that worked out for him. So it was a great experience, but I think Billy was happier in New York.

Shane: 

When you took over that team, where Charlie Finley was the owner before, was there an overlap there at all? Or was it kind of a clean cut? Did you interact with him? Or was there at least remnants of his ways that you had to deal with?

Sandy:

Well, sure. Charlie ran a very tight ship. He had had a very small front office; very few personnel, and his support systems were not very sophisticated. For example, he used those three World Series trophies from the 70s as filing cabinets. You all know what the World Series trophy looks like, it’s a semicircle of flags. So he would put files between the flags, and that was part of his office filing system. The season ticket holder base was so small that all of the information on the season ticket holders was kept in a shoe box. So it was a pretty skinny operation. His nephew was in the front office, his name was Carl Finley, a great guy, and he provided a little bit of continuity. The only time I ever met Charlie was in Chicago at the closing of the sale, and Charlie lived in Laporte, Indiana, and had an insurance company back east. And the closing was was held at the law offices of John Paul Stevens who by that time had become a Supreme Court justice. I was a very young attorney at the time, three or four years experience, and Charlie was upset about the possibility the closing would take place too late for him to earn interest on his cash for one day and threatened to blow up the whole deal if we didn’t get the money from California to Illinois in time for him to earn one day’s interest. So, Charlie was a character but that was the only time I ever met him. Never saw him while he had the A’s and never saw him afterward.

Shane:

John Eames, he’s on the call and he’s a Bay Area guy, he wants to know, I guess contrast, how great was it to work with the Haas family?

Sandy:

The Haas’s were terrific, terrific people. From Walter who was the head of the family, to Roy Eisenhart, his son-in-law and Wally Haas…  Wally and I and Roy are still great friends. There were two things that I think were important with the Haas family: one was they gave us the opportunity to try things and experiment. And this is why [as] you explained at the outset, we were the first to do this and the first to do that, they encouraged us to just try stuff. One of the reasons we got into analytics, it’s certainly one of the reasons that we had a weight room very early in baseball. So, there are a lot of things [like] the mental skills coach, the idea was ‘try it, let’s see if it works. If it doesn’t work we can change direction.’ They had a tremendous willingness to allow us to try new things. The reason I got the job as GM was not because I had any extraordinary experience in baseball; I had zero, technically. But I think Roy, who was running the team at the time, had more confidence in my judgment than he had concern about my lack of experience. So I’m forever grateful that he gave me the opportunity. I was working in a law firm and at the time said, ‘Hey, I can always be a lawyer, if this doesn’t work out.’  Fortunately, I didn’t have to go back to practicing law, although I’m sure I’d have been sued for malpractice along the way some time if I had. But anyway, that’s how I got started.

Shane:  

That’s fascinating. Going back to Japan, you’ve seen baseball in Japan and the World Baseball Classic (WBC) and Opening Days and back when you’re a kid, and you [even] hosted the Japanese team at the first WBC in 2006 when you’re with the Padres, so what’s your overall impression of Japanese baseball, whether it’s the players, the fans, or the baseball culture in general?

Sandy: 

Well, obviously tremendously impressed with baseball in Japan. So I have been to Japan as you mentioned, I’ve been there in connection with WBC qualifiers, MLB Opening Series, All-Star Tours, I was there in 1955. I’ve always been thoroughly impressed with Japanese baseball and their commitment to the game and the commitment not only [of] the players but also of the fans. When I was in Oakland, we partnered with Seibu for a period of time. But while I’ve got tremendous respect Japanese baseball, over the years we’ve almost never signed a Japanese player directly from Japan. And that’s partly because I’ve been with teams where we really didn’t have the resources to compete, either scouting-wise or financially for those players. But the commitment that the players have, the discipline that they have, the seriousness with which they take the game has always been very impressive.

Shane:

Yeah, I agree with that. Segue into some more international stuff with the Olympics. As we mentioned, a lot of people know that you’re the GM of these successful MLB teams, but people don’t know that you’re basically the GM of a gold medal team too. So what’s the story with the 2000 [US] team and your role there?

Sandy:

Well that was a tremendous amount of fun, particularly in retrospect, given the fact that we won the gold medal, which is not the case [in 2004,] it wasn’t as happy as an involvement. In 1998, I went to Major League Baseball to head up Baseball Operations. And one of my responsibilities was an emerging international competition involving Major League players, or at least Major League affiliated players. This was all leading to the 2000 Olympics, but the first qualifying event was in Canada in 1999, so we had to qualify there in order to make the Olympics. Only two teams qualified out of the Western Hemisphere. Fortunately, we qualified with Cuba. It was kind of an uphill battle because in that Pan-Am series we lost to Canada the first day, which was a disaster, but [we] ended up qualifying. What’s interesting also about 1999 and the Pan-Am Games is it’s the first instance of drug testing for performance enhancing drugs, to my knowledge, at the Major League level. In order to participate in the Olympics and provide players, Major League Baseball had to agree to have its players tested. I think that was the first time organized steroid testing took place at the Major League level; it was kind of a sort of in the vanguard of testing and eventually led to widespread testing in baseball. Anyway, we qualified for Sydney, and what I did was sort of organize committees of scouts to select the players and then put the team together and ultimately the staff and so forth. It was a lot of fun. We went to Sydney several times, was there for the pre-Olympics training, selected the final team, played a number of really nerve-racking games in Sydney; Blacktown actually is where most of the games were played outside of Sydney. Then [we] won the gold medal against Cuba in the final game. I can still remember where I was. Ben Sheets pitched that game, went on to be an excellent Major League pitcher. I couldn’t take it, so I was walking around and I was somewhere beyond the outfield fence, we got the final out. But it was a great experience, I compare it to winning the World Series, except in a very compressed timeframe. To this day, that group stays together. There’s a book that’s been written about that team, they’re trying to make a movie about that team, but it was a great group because it involved future Major League stars like Ben Sheets, but it also involved some guys who [for them,] that was the epitome of their career; that was the high point. It’s interesting the ‘99 team was more of a scouts’ team and the 2000 team, the Olympic team itself, was more analytically selected, if you will, with a view toward on-base percentage and power and maybe sacrificing a little defense for offense. But there were a couple of guys [who were] really unsung players at the time. One was Mike Neill, who played a big part in the entire Olympic series. Ernie Young was also instrumental, but if you go back and look at the 25-man roster, there’s just a lot of guys that this was the high point of their career, which made it a lot of fun. It was a great experience.

Shane:

It sounds really fun. I imagine. You didn’t get a gold medal there though, huh?

Sandy:

No, no, I got a uniform. But in fact, Tommy Lasorda didn’t get a gold medal. Only the players get medals, but Tommy got plenty out of it. It was a hoot too. It was perfect for Tommy Lasorda at that time of his life because it was a short-term commitment, it wasn’t 162 games and he was way past that physically and mentally. But for this period of time, he could stay focused and a lot of his BS went over really well over a very short period of time. I remember when we first got to Sydney, all the players moved into the Olympic village and Tommy said, ‘I’m going to move in with the players.’ You know, he’s a big rah rah, be with my players and I think he lasted one day in the Olympic village; ‘the beds were too small, the food stunk.” Tommy was back in the hotel within about 14 hours. But anyway, it was a great experience, a lot of fun. I got to add something to 2004 So, we won the gold medal in 2000 and now we have to qualify again to play in 2004 in Athens, and so I was in charge of that team too. And we had a pretty good team, and we went down to Panama City to qualify in… wasn’t the Pan-Am Games but it was a qualifier for the Americas. And it was absolutely crazy down there. The first night, the fireworks display blew up and killed the person, almost killed Dave Stewart who was our pitching coach, we got to the semi-finals. Now we have to qualify, we got to the semi-finals, and we played Mexico. And we go to the ninth inning, tied in the top of the ninth, and a Mexican player hit a home run off of one of our relievers. One of the things about international baseball is every game is super critical. And obviously when you’re in a knockout round, that’s clear, but every game is critical, every inning is critical. And so our manager was kind of using his pitching staff as if it was the middle of a 162-game season. It was ‘hey, we’re on the line here.’ So anyway, get to the bottom of the ninth, we’re down a run, we get the first two men on base and we have two left-handed hitters on the bench and the right-hander’s pitching for Mexico’s a side-arm, very tough on righties. Anyway, our manager bunts with nobody out, bunts them to second and third…  never uses the second left-handed pinch hitter and our two righties go down. And we lose two-to-one and I was so upset because it was an old-school approach, and given my preference for high on-base and driving the ball, sacrifice bunts are not really in my lexicon. So anyway, we didn’t get to go to the Olympics in 2004. Anyway, one of those things.

Shane:

Wow, that’s a heartbreaker. I’m gonna ask one more Olympic question, then we are going to go to some of our guests but can you speak a little bit about the importance of the Olympics to the game of baseball in general around the world?

Sandy:

Yeah, I’m a big believer in promoting international baseball. As part of being involved with the Olympics, I attended International Baseball Federation meetings in lots of places, promoting the game, trying to get the game played in lots of places where it’s not popular. And the Olympics is absolutely critical to that effort. The Olympics provides two things: one, it provides a platform, an international platform that is unmatched. The World Baseball Classic is nothing compared to the Olympics, and so the platform is incredibly important. Partly that’s because national governments who are involved heavily in the Olympics for political reasons, as well as others, promote Olympic sports. If you’re not an Olympic sport in China, you don’t get promoted the same way as an Olympic sport would. And that includes finances, as well as other resources and prominence in the media and so forth. The second thing is if you’re in the Olympics, the Olympic movement itself generates revenue through the Olympic Games, and that in turn finances the sport as well. So if the game is an Olympic sport, you would find probably at one time…  I think [at] our high point we probably had well over 100 National Baseball Federations in crazy places. Now that number is probably shrunk quite significantly. Beyond the Olympics, I’ve always tried to push baseball internationally, to invest internationally, particularly in places where we don’t currently have a footprint. We have a small academy in China. The number of people who support it [is a] ridiculously low number of people that we support to play baseball in China. We do nothing in a place like India. I mean, India oughta be a perfect location for the promotion of baseball, they play cricket. So the height, the eye-hand coordination stuff, they’re totally familiar with. In many places they speak English, so the scouting and development would be easier, and we don’t really do anything in India. We do stuff in places like Australia, which from an overall strategic standpoint makes no sense because there’s nothing there. There’s no market there. They like to play baseball as kind of a secondary sport. And it’s great to go to Australia… I was involved with setting up the Australian Baseball Academy in connection with the Olympics…  but there’s no market there long-term. I mean, there’s a market but it’s very limited. If we’re doing anything in Australia, it ought to be as a laboratory for developing applications in places like China and India, and other places, even in Europe, as well. We don’t have to be soccer in Europe, we don’t have to be Cricket in India, but we can be a very substantial alternative if we promote it. Max Kepler’s from Germany. There’s no reason why there can’t be more players from Europe and other places, but we don’t spend the money to develop those players or provide opportunities.

Shane:

You know, I’d love to see some of that change. On that note, Bob Abels wants to ask how well does MLB work with the World Baseball Softball Confederation, formerly the International Baseball Federation, to expand international baseball?

Sandy:

Well MLB works very closely with USA baseball, for example, in connection with a lot of the international tournaments in sports. It’s under USA baseball’s aegis that MLB participates in things like the Olympics and other international events. But MLB basically controls and manages the players and resources etc. MLB works well with [the] International Baseball Federation with one exception, and that is it won’t even consider using Major League players for these international events other than the World Baseball Classic, and I spent a lot of time trying to convince people that ‘look, it’s important for MLB to be in the Olympics, if we have to use Major League players, let’s figure out a creative way to do it.’ For example, can we reduce the competition time at the Olympics itself from two to two and a half weeks to four days?” There are lots of things that we could do to be creative, to satisfy the Olympic movement and recognize that baseball’s a great institution, but so is the Olympics. So let’s figure out how to do this in a way that benefits [both sides.] You know, you look at hockey these days, and they’re pulling out of the Olympics, etc. And I think in part it’s because hockey feels they don’t need the Olympics anymore. Notwithstanding how many of their players come from places like Sweden and Czechoslovakia and so forth would love to play for their home country. But I think the NHL has gotten to the point where they don’t think they need the Olympics anymore. But if baseball wants to expand internationally, it needs the Olympics. I even went so far as to try and appeal to the avarice of Major League owners by saying, ‘look, if we can make the game more popular around the world, we will create more capital resources and interest in your franchises.’ So if the Commissioner says, ‘Well, you know, my goal is to make sure everybody’s franchise appreciates in value.’ Well, my response was, ‘Well one of the real ways we can do that is make baseball familiar to more people in more parts of the world, so that if there’s some guy from Dubai who wants to buy a sports franchise, he just doesn’t focus on the Premier League. He thinks about baseball, or some oligarch somewhere.’ Now I’m not advocating that we sell our franchises to the Russians, but the point was, ‘How do I get their attention?’ And that was my last resort…  you really want to drive the price of these franchises up, let’s start. We need to appeal to people from places other than the United States. Anyway.

Shane:

That’s an interesting point. I’m gonna go to Andy here, so he can highlight some of the questions we have coming in.

Andy:

Yes, we just got a couple of questions in the chat. To keep it international baseball focused, first, let’s go over to Craig, who had a question about the minor league system in Japan.

Craig: 

I was just curious about how they compare to the US, and how the university system in Japan has evolved the way it is in the US. How do those compare?

Sandy:

That’s a very good question and I don’t think I’m qualified to answer. I think that our minor league system is more extensive, but in terms of quality and particularly how the university system contributes to the overall scope of professional baseball, I’m just not sure. One of the things that has happened in U.S. baseball is that the universities now are probably as cutting edge with respect to player development and technology as Major League clubs. In fact, in a lot of cases now you’re starting to see a lot of Major League staff being hired out of colleges, and that’s in part because a lot of the creativity, a lot of the innovation is coming out of those college programs and not from some of the Major League teams. Unfortunately, our minor league system in the States is under assault right now. MLB wants to reduce the number of teams from about 160 down to about 120, which I don’t agree with not because we need that many to develop players, but in large part because the minor leagues contribute to the Major League brand in ways that go way beyond whether we develop a player out of Kingsport, or Elizabeth turn or some other small town. So, I’m sorry I can’t answer the question but our minor league system is definitely under assault. And I know that the Japanese system is more efficient in that regard. But [in] the United States, the minor league system does more than develop players, it also provides a presence, a Major League Baseball presence in a lot of places around the United States that develops not just players but develops interest in the game. And in Major League Baseball, per se.

Craig:

Thank you, and thank all the people who answered in the chat also.

Andy:

Let’s go over to Ian. He had a question a little bit ago. He’s been waiting quite a bit.

Ian:

So what was the impetus for using analytics and Oakland and sabermetrics? Was it Bill James or was it something else?

Sandy:

Well, it was a lack of alternatives on my part. So when I became General Manager of the A’s, I think it was prior to the ‘84 season, I had a very limited background in baseball, I’d only been working for the A’s for a couple of years, [and had] never been involved in professional baseball before that, never played baseball, even at the college level after my sophomore year in school. And yet, I was in this position where I needed to be able to evaluate players, and you certainly can do that through surrogates, systems and people like that, but ultimately, you have to have sort of a decision-making structure of your own. And so about that time Bill James was writing, but where I first became aware of analytics was driving to work one day and listening to public radio and listening to a fellow who we ultimately hired as a consultant, who had just written a book called “The Sinister First Baseman.” It was a book written by Eric Walker, who was in the Bay Area at that time. We ended up hiring Eric, as a consultant. We never publicized that, in part because my credibility in the game was so low, I didn’t want to take it lower by announcing that we were using some crazy-guy mathematician to help us make decisions. But as a result, it was kind of like, ‘Well, how am I going to do this?’ And listening to him and reading Bill James, all of that made perfect sense to me. The difference between analytics in the early 80s and analytics today is the extent of data that’s available. If you go back to the early 80s, there really wasn’t a lot of data to be analyzed. A lot of these “Moneyball” concepts at that time were concepts; they were ideas that made sense, but other than the sort of rudimentary mathematics, there wasn’t a lot of technology or broad data that you could use to back up these concepts. The basic idea of getting on-base and driving the ball made a lot of sense. If you recall in those days, some of you that are closer to my age, there was a manager with Baltimore by the name of Earl Weaver who was a big get-on-base-and-hit-home-runs guy. He was a big three-run homer guy and they won a lot of games in Baltimore. There was another guy who was a manager at that time, his name was Gene Mauch, and he managed Philadelphia, he managed the Angels as late as 1986; he was a small ball guy – run them over, steal a base, sacrifice fly, yada yada yada. Mauch never won anything. And is kind of reviled in Philadelphia for losing a seven or eight game lead at the end of the season with only ten days to play. But Earl Weaver and that whole approach appealed to me and it fit right in with the concept. So the next question was, ‘Okay, well how are you going to apply this?’ And I would say the first incident of applying this approach was when we drafted Mark McGwire in 1984. McGwire was a big home run hitter, had a high on base percentage at USC, dropped to us with the 10th pick because he wouldn’t make a deal with the Mets at number one. We took him over some other very good players [with] more athletic, more traditional profiles. But he really fit what we’re looking for. And if you get to the late 80s, the teams that we had in the 80s reflect that approach as well, in a couple of different respects. Just as an example, our center fielder was a guy named Dave Henderson. Dave Henderson wasn’t the best defensive center fielder in the game, but he was a good defensive center fielder but he was also a guy that got on base and hit home runs. So there was this bias, if you will, toward offense. Now maybe that was because in those days, defense couldn’t really be measured that well, and so what you can’t measure you can’t improve and you don’t, maybe you under value. But if you look at those teams, that’s kind of how they were developed. Rickey Henderson, you know, great on-base, leadoff man, great speed and so forth. But ultimately, even if you look at Ricky, Ricky was a combination of speed and power as well, and more importantly, on-base percentage. I think those were the first few days when offense began to override defense in almost every position, including shortstop… players who maybe aren’t as exceptional defensively but who bring a lot more offense to the table. And right now, you need a lot of offense to win baseball games at the Major League level. But anyway, short answer is, it was really the only approach available to me at the time.

Shane

Thanks for that question. So it’s interesting you had to kind of downplay, almost hide the fact you’re working with a statistician and you obviously had to blend new school and old school from the very beginning for the reasons you just said. And now Moneyball came out 20 years later, and the owners got behind it, and now everyone’s kind of doing that model. And now there’s some talk about maybe the Ivy League model has gone too far in one direction. Do you feel that way?

Sandy:

Yes, I do, as a matter of fact. I’ve even thought about writing up an article in connection with that idea. A couple of random thoughts: first of all, I think you’re absolutely correct. Moneyball created a top-down revolution in the game. Owners read it, understood it, realized that baseball concepts were similar in many cases to other basic business principles with which they were familiar. There was an extension from those owners to the front offices. What Moneyball, the book, did was kind of lay it all out. It’s not like there was any great proprietary secret, but it kind of laid it all out and made total sense. It was an “aha” moment for a lot of these owners. Well, not surprisingly, over the years, what we’ve got now is we’ve got front offices that are basically extensions of ownership. I don’t think that’s good for the game, I think there used to be sort of three constituencies in the game; one was the players, one was the owners, and there, right smack in the middle, was baseball operations people. And within that group of baseball operations people, I think there resided a sort of “best interest of the game” philosophy. Today, the front offices are just an extension of ownership, there’s no ballast in the middle that keeps us focused on the best interests of the game as opposed to the best interest for me personally or for my team. So that’s one sort of ramification because everybody has bought into analytics. You talk about Ivy League, we’re not talking about history majors, I was a history major. We’re talking about economics majors, computer science majors. We’re not talking about a cross section, even in the Ivy League. And so what we have then is we have kind of [a] monolithic approach to the game. Everybody sees it the same way. And so as a result, the game I think has become very one-dimensional. We’re not going to get smart people out of the game, that’s not going to happen. On the other hand, my solution is to change the rules and make everybody start from zero again. So because what we’ve done so far, we’ve squeezed all of the uncertainty out of the game. One of my big targets is the shift. I hate the shift. The shift, to me, is a problem because it has created a more one-dimensional approach to the game. The idea that the hitters are going to go the other way is nonsense, because the analytics tells you that even if they go the other way and get a single, it doesn’t really help that much. If you got a single to left with a man at first, five times out of ten, that doesn’t overcome a home run two or three times out of 10. And as a result, we have people going over the shift rather than the other way, because it produces more runs. So one of my things is let’s get rid of the shift. And the second reason is it symbolically stiff-arms the front office and says, ‘Okay, we’re going to play the game on the field.’ And unfortunately, baseball has evolved through greater analytics and greater efficiency. I talked to a front office person a few weeks ago, and I was kind of lamenting the fact that it’s not as entertaining as it was before; we have basically one strategy, and so the unpredictability comes from the execution, or the lack of execution. It doesn’t come from an array of strategies that present themselves that you could choose from, there’s only one strategy. So he said, ‘Well, don’t blame me. My job is to solve every baseball problem in terms of efficiency and probability.’ And if you think about it that way, that’s the reason why we’re getting rid of some of the minor leagues. It’s because we have a one-dimensional strategic kind of approach in the game, and it’s suffocating the game itself. Now, when I say change the rules, the only way that you’re going to actually call more life into the game is by changing the rules in such a way that you incentivize different strategies. Why? Because the different strategies offer the same level of probability of success. For example, if you want more stolen bases in the game, you’ve got to figure out a way to incentivize teams to steal bases. And one of the ways… is to make it just as valuable to steal a base as it is to sit at first base and hope that the guy hits a homerun, you have to change the incentives. So we’ve got a lot of smart people in the game. They’re not going away. To challenge that sort of intellectual capital that each team has, we got to change rules and make everybody start over again and do it within reason. I’m not talking about changing stuff in a crazy way, but little things like if we’d had a minor league season this year, a pitcher [would have] had to step off before he threw to first base, little things that make it a little bit more likely to succeed in a stolen base or to do this or to do that. Those are the kinds of things that we need to promote. I’ve been a big proponent of making the umpires more accountable and get the strikes more consistent, but I have to tell you, I’m not sure about these Robo-Umps because that’s one more area of uncertainty which we want everything to be as perfect as it can be, but we need a little bit of room for mistakes. One of the things, unfortunately for the game, we don’t see any arguments anymore between umpires and managers. I used to love those things. They’re harmless, but they’re part of the theater of the game. Well, we don’t have any theater anymore. We’ve got instant replay, what have you. I’ve even proposed that you allow managers to argue balls and strikes. Why? Because it’s fun! Come on! Let’s have a little controversy once in a while! I mean, if you think about Earl Weaver going up against Steve Palermo or somebody, those were great fun. The first Manager we hired after Billy Martin left was a guy named Steve Boros in Oakland. He would never argue with an umpire, and he said, ‘Look, they’re not going to change their mind, so why should I argue? I said ‘Steve, it’s part of the theater of the game! You’re doing it because the fans wanna do it, your players wanna do it, you’re representing all of them and their emotions. This is part of the game; we don’t expect he’s gonna change his mind. That’s missing the point completely. So, Steve, go home, stand in front of a mirror. Tell yourself you’re gonna argue with an umpire tomorrow, and it’ll be fun.’ He never did. Not once. So anyway, I get off my soapbox.

Shane:

I hope you write that article. You can see the headline now, it’s “I Created a Monster.”

Sandy:

[Laughs] Yeah, something like that.

Shane:

We’re gonna go back to Andy to see if we’ve got some questions more from the audience here.

Andy:

Yes, so Carter had a question a little bit ago about the minor league baseball system. So let’s go over to Carter.

Carter

What do you think of the proposal of getting rid of 40 minor league teams?

Sandy:

I think it’s a bad idea. If you think about what, limiting those teams, those are all short season teams, probably save a team $700,000. That’s pretty close to a Major League minimum salary. In the overall scheme of things, it’s peanuts. You know, I thought Kansas City’s GM had a great point the other day, it’s not just that these teams are in these small towns. It’s the kids that never make it, who play professional baseball and go back to their hometowns and promote the game and coach little league teams or traveling teams, it’s the way that the game gets propagated, and we’re just eliminating lots of those opportunities. The second thing is when you eliminate those teams, you eliminate much of the diversity that Major League Baseball hopes to provide. If you get beyond high school now, there’s virtually no place anywhere to develop players. Colleges don’t develop players, if you don’t come in and aren’t able to contribute, you don’t get a scholarship to a college. The young players that maybe played basketball and football in high school and didn’t play much baseball, or raw, quote unquote, not as refined, those are the kids that get drafted in the 10th, the 20th round, and get a chance to play and to develop. But if you eliminate 40 teams, which is the equivalent of 1200 players, those kids aren’t going to get a chance to develop, and the diversity that the sport needs and doesn’t have at the moment will get even worse. The reason there are so many Latin players in the game, which is a great thing, is because we provide in the Dominican Republic, in academies that every team owns, an opportunity for 16-year-olds to play and 17 and 18, and so forth. And these are exactly the players who are going to be eliminated in the United States if we get rid of those 40 teams, and it’s a shame. But it goes back to the thing that I mentioned before: efficiency and probability. It’s not efficient to have that extra team or two, because it’s true, very few players come out of those groups, and it’s not probable that anybody is going to come from those teams. So on an efficiency basis, let’s save the money. And from a probability standpoint, we’re not likely to get any players out of it. But is that the end of the discussion? Shouldn’t be. We’re talking diversity, we’re talking about branding. We’re talking about promoting and sustaining the game across the United States. Sunk cost, it’s pennies on the dollar for what we get right.

Shane:

That’s an interesting point about the diversity part. I mean, there’s so many different angles to this, but I hadn’t even thought about that. That’s really interesting, because that is a big problem here. 

Duff:

Thank you. What was it like working with the Padres? Especially under the Moores administration, I know things got pretty dicey when [John] and Becky [Moores] filed for divorce. Was that the beginning of the end? Could you see the writing on the wall?

Sandy:

Well, let me answer your last question first. Not only didn’t I see the writing on the wall, but I found out about the fact that the team has been sold and I was likely out of a job from a writer at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. But I gotta say that being with the Padres was one of the most enjoyable periods of my career, I love San Diego. I love the people in that organization. I was the CEO, so I ran the baseball and business side and we had some great people there. I just loved the whole thing. And John Moores was a great owner. He didn’t really meddle in things and Kevin Towers was there. We had a really good relationship; he was a great guy. San Diego was a terrific place, we did a lot of things. We hosted the World Baseball Classic there, we won a couple of division titles, although we won one division title with 82 wins. So that’s when the Dodgers weren’t too good.

Duff:

And you’ve got Petco Park!

Sandy: 

Petco Park was a fantastic place to play. I was there just after it was opened, and I was there to put up the Tony Gwynn statue, I selected the sculptor for that, and that turned out really terrific. Great monument to a great player.

Shane:

We have a bunch more questions. I wanted to make sure we touched on the D.R. a little bit, because that’s interesting to me. And I also wanted to use this opportunity to share with everyone some of my story, and kind of what led to us in a way being here today with you on. When I was in college in Berkeley, I took an extra semester there mostly just because I really enjoyed it, and I didn’t want to graduate yet, and I was trying to figure out a way to work in baseball. I studied abroad in the D.R, and I thought maybe that would help get me there. I still wasn’t quite sure how to parlay my education into a baseball career, so I signed up for the sports business class my extra semester at Cal and the teacher was going to be a sports agent. And I thought, ‘Okay, well, this could be something. It’s just a two-unit class, but maybe he can help me out with a career. He could help me out a little bit and figure out what to do to get a job.’ And then when I got my syllabus, they said the teacher was Sandy Alderson. And I was like, ‘Oh, I think I know that name.’ And I had to look it up just to be sure. ‘Okay, wow, this is a huge opportunity here.’ So that little two-unit elective class, I busted my ass. It quickly became the most important class I took in four and a half years. So that class was super fun and I appreciated you just not making it about baseball and I tried to make a decent impression without brown-nosing too much. And then when we met at the end of the year, I asked you for some advice on how I could potentially get a job in baseball. You suggested that I write a letter to all 30 teams, or maybe a couple letters depending on who it was I was pinpointing in the front office, and you said you can kind of throw in there that you’re in my class and I suggested that you do this or something like that. I’m not sure if I told you at the time but I put your name in the first sentence of the letter I sent: ‘I’m writing to you per the suggestion of Sandy Alderson’ and that got me somewhere you know, people responded. Your name carried some weight and that helped. The Diamondbacks hired me to intern in the 2010 season and right about then you got hired, appointed by Commissioner Selig to go clean up things in the D.R. When I finished up the season, we kept in touch and ended up being hired to work under you in the D.R. I was really excited, I finally got my first full time job, I was gonna have all this opportunity to learn under you, so I was flying out to the D.R. and I had basically an extended layover in New York for like a day to do orientation and whatnot. And then the HR folks told me that I was going to be on the plane with you the next morning to go down to the D.R. because there’s some big meeting going on down there. I was all gung-ho and everything, and I got in a cab at 5am to go to JFK to get on our flight to Santo Domingo and in the cabs they have those news tablets with the screen, and the scroll on the bottom of the news screen said ‘Mets hire Sandy Alderson as General Manager.’ And I was like, ‘oh, man, I hope it’s just a rumor or something.’ I got to the airport and you’re at the gate, you probably beat me by two hours knowing you, even though it was the first flight out, but you were waiting there, and I said, ‘So I saw some interesting news.’ And you said ‘Yeah, well, that meeting is now going to be my goodbye meeting, too. So I’m moving on.’ So my career of working for you was for about 24 hours.

Sandy

Sorry about that. Might have been to your benefit.

Shane: 

Well, as it was tons of fun working down there, regardless of whether that part worked out and I enjoyed my two years down there, it really was formative in a lot of ways, professionally and personally. It kind of put me on the road to be here with JapanBall, but I’m curious about your experience in the D.R. Maybe you could share a little bit about what you did down there. And then just some takeaways on the Dominican baseball culture that you have.

Sandy:

Well, I first went to the Dominican Republic in, I think 1983. We ended up hiring Juan Marichal, Hall of Famer, as our scout in the Dominican, but I spent many trips down to the Dominican in the 80s. We eventually put in an academy there, which I think was the second Academy; the Dodgers had the first one, [and] Toronto also was well-established down there even before we were. So I had spent a lot of time down there. Enjoyed being there, enjoyed the idea of scouting in the Dominican, not that I consider myself a scout but I enjoyed the chase. At that time, it was very different because there wasn’t the amount of information available on players that there is today. You could actually find players in small towns in those days, today the system is so widespread and proficient that there are no real surprises in places like the Dominican Republic, or even to some extent Venezuela, although travel there is more difficult. So when I left the Padres, I agreed to do a study for MLB, a “white paper” on the issues that existed in Dominican Republic and Latin America generally. And when I ended up looking for somebody to take over the office down there to implement some of the recommendations that I had made, I sort of volunteered. It wasn’t exactly a job that a lot of people wanted to take. My attitude has always been ‘I’ll do anything once,’ and I kind of liked the idea of taking on jobs that other people don’t find attractive or what have you, but you know can be important. So I went down there and the goal was, in a general sense, to kind of clean up the Major League Baseball image in the Dominican Republic and make us, MLB, a better corporate, international citizen, if you will. Part of the problem was Dominican-based age discrim[ination], age manipulation, steroid use, things of that nature but also a lot of the corruption was supplemented by people from Major League organizations. When I went down there, most people feared that I was there to impose a draft, so there was a lot of pushback from the baseball community there initially, and it was only after a period of time that I made it clear I wasn’t there to to eliminate the [free agency] system, but rather to improve it. And we did that by instituting identity investigations, more testing for drug use, and so forth. But also attempting to create better work environments for players, higher standards for academies. I even had a crazy idea about ways we could incorporate education into the buscon (trainer-agent) system. The idea was to recognize that the buscones there provided a definite service in terms of developing players, but we had to figure out a way to incentivize them to do it the right way rather than, you know, through subterfuge and other manipulations and illegal means. And I really loved it down there, I thought it was a lot of fun. We had a small office, you’ll remember that our office there was in a small house in a neighborhood. I really enjoyed the camaraderie that we had there. And I think we got everything headed in the right direction. One of the problems with the system in the Dominican baseball system is it does take young kids away from the educational system. Now the educational system in the Dominican is terrible anyway, but one of my ideas was to try to incentivize the buscones to provide more education for their young kids. And the idea was to impose an academic achievement test as part of the registration process. So to get to register you do an identity investigation, which you have to do in order to get a visa in the United States anyway, you test for drugs, and you do an academic achievement test. And the theory was that kids that did better on the academic achievement test would get higher bonuses. And I think that’s one of the reasons Venezuelans typically get higher bonuses than Dominicans, it’s in part because the educational systems are better. Kids are more adaptable, culturally, etc. So the idea was to give them an academic achievement test, and that would then force the buscones to actually provide some education at the same time that they were trying to develop the players’ skill levels. That really hasn’t been fully implemented, but it was an idea that if I’d stayed there longer, I could have followed through on. But I enjoyed it down there, I think like the first week I was there was a like a one thousand person demonstration against my presence there because they thought I was going to bring the draft with me, but I tried to disabuse them of that idea. By the way, we have exactly the same kind of system in the United States, it’s the showcases, it’s the tours, not like JapanBall but these travel teams. Travel teams are just like buscones , and what baseball has to figure out a way to do in the United States is work with these travel team groups, if we want to diversify the player pool etc. And I hope that’s something we’ll do over the next few years, so, got an idea for that. But that’s for another day.

Shane:

I can say that a lot of this stuff you put in place in the D.R. we kept doing for many years after so it definitely was productive. Bob Abels has a related question, talking about Cuba a little bit. So Bob, I’m just gonna let you ask that one.

Bob: 

When I retired from work, I did a lot of international travel and I went to places like Serie del Caribe and the World Cups. And I did run across a lot of these Cuban recruiters and in my discussions with them, they seem all very shady and I said, ‘I don’t want to hang around with these guys,’ but I don’t know what your thought is on the whole Cuban recruitment process and whether that has some concerns on your part.

Sandy:

Yeah, it’s a very good question. The question of how Cuban players get to the United States is a really complex one, and human trafficking is probably not a bad umbrella term for what takes place. In a lot of cases, baseball teams are complicit. When I was in the Dominican, I had to suspend and fine a couple of executives who misidentified two Cuban players as Dominicans in order to sign them; that was their attempt to get around various limitations on even scouting Cuban players. Some people have gone to jail for the human trafficking and I think they deserve the jail. MLB tried to work something out with the Cuban government and I think [they] did work something out. President Trump reversed that, so Cubans still have difficulty getting out of the country by conventional means. But there are a lot of stories about people like [Yoenis] Cespedes and a whole host of other Cuban players getting out of the country. I should mention that I was the person responsible for the Baltimore series with Cuba. The game in Havana and the game later in Baltimore, and that was in 1999 I believe, it was a fascinating experience dealing with the US government, which didn’t really agree within itself from department to department [on] whether these games should even be played, [and] dealing with the Cuban government and all the restrictions on resources going into Cuba and remaining in Cuba. It was a fascinating experience that culminated with a dinner with Castro and I sat across the table like two down from Castro. It was interesting because all Castro wanted to talk about were the baseball academies in the Dominican Republic and whether Cuba can duplicate that success. But it was a fascinating thing; I look at Castro just as a historical figure, putting aside all the negatives, the negatives, and to some extent, maybe positives from some perspectives. It was a fascinating period of time that included bugs in our hotel room, satchels full of cash. But Cuba is fascinating. And on the other hand, you talk about Cuban players, honestly, my general impression is they’re overrated, and I’ve seen this a few places. I was reading an article in Baseball America today with a kid named Glenn Williams, who was signed out of Australia, was the highest paid international signee that year, and he came from Australia and it was symptomatic of [that with] certain places, there’s a premium. So we all think Cubans are great, and they’re great baseball players and they must be worth all this money and some of them turn out very well, but a lot of them have been awful and the amount of money spent on these guys has been extraordinary for the return. For some reason there was a premium on these guys coming from Australia, not anymore, but there was this fascination that existed with Cuba but also other stranger places like Australia.

Bob:

I think you can ask the Dodgers how much money they spent on Cuba.

Sandy

Exactly, [they got Yasiel] Puig but everything else they spent went down the drain. And you know, I look at some players we have in Oakland right now; they’re Cuban players, they’re not doing very well either. I don’t know what it is. I think there may be something sociological also that they just don’t adapt that well to the culture in the United States. I don’t know what it is, you know why it’s different. They’re coming from there that it might be from some other place in Latin America. I don’t know. I’m not a scientist.

Shane:

That’s interesting, and Michael points out that some of them have done well in Japan; surprisingly, they have a higher hit rate in Japan, but it’s also a different process of getting over. They go into Japan with an agreement with the government and all that.

Gabe:

Hello, Sandy. My question is around Canada’s role, admittedly being a little selfish [as I’m] currently in Toronto. I know that we used to have more minor league teams than we do right now; right now it’s only just the Vancouver Canadians. In the past we’ve had the Ottawa Lynx, the Calgary Cannons, the Edmonton Trappers. There’s no AAA teams in the country anymore. And I wonder if only having just the Jays is deadening the appetite for growing the game or if there is even room to grow? What do you think?

Sandy:

Well preface my comments by saying that we in Oakland were in Edmonton for several years, and actually won a PCL championship up in Edmonton. They built a real nice ballpark with an artificial surface, so it was a nice place to play. It might be a couple of issues: one is historic and may have to do with the exchange rate, which isn’t a significant issue today, but at the time when the league reconfigured, [it] probably was an issue, just as it was an issue when hockey expanded so heavily into the United States. I think the second issue is just distance. You know, the Pacific Coast League, team teams fly from place to place, but distance nonetheless does have an impact. I think the other thing is that honestly, there were probably cities in the United States who were prepared to subsidize these franchises in the form of new ballparks, and as a result those teams relocated. Minor league owners make a little bit of money during the year operationally but ultimately where the big money is made in minor league investments is taking a team and figuring out a way to get a new stadium someplace and then selling that team based on the public subsidy. So I think that that may have something to do with it as well. But if you look at minor league baseball, the International League extends as far north as Buffalo, but no further. And the Eastern League probably doesn’t get quite as far north, although I do remember it gets into New Hampshire. There was actually an effort made to purchase the Binghamton franchise in New York and move it to Ottawa, which didn’t work out again because of stadium issues. So I think there was this migration south, in part because of economics related to the exchange rate and related to what some cities were prepared to do to subsidize AAA clubs, and there just hasn’t been any expansion, so there aren’t any new teams. I just think that that the way things are currently, there’s probably no momentum to get teams back into Canada, in part because teams like to have minor league franchises that are close to their Major League location; when I was with the Mets, we were in Las Vegas for a couple years which wasn’t exactly convenient. The other problem that you have in places like Edmonton is just getting players in and out of there. So even though we were in Vegas, we have plenty of flights between Vegas and New York. That’s the problem in Fresno, there’s no direct flights out of a place like Fresno and then Edmonton was also complicated. Places like that are just a little bit far flung for the average Major League team to feel comfortable about getting players back and forth. Anyway, that’s my guess: exchange rate probably had an impact at the time when they all moved south.

Shane:

Sandy, I gotta sneak in one more: Toshiki, he played college baseball in the U.S. He’s Japanese. And he’s a double-major in multiple analytics-related things. So if the A’s is looking for someone, he might be your guy. That’s your plug Toshiki, ask your question.

Toshiki: 

Great to meet you. Thank you for being here. Just a little quick question. I would love to know if you have any idea about the next breakthrough in baseball, like you did with Moneyball, especially when everybody’s doing the kind of the same thing to analytics, which is what I’m studying right now, but I’d love to know if I can get a head start on just going to the baseball industry.

Sandy:

Well, let me say what I’ve told a lot of people. I’m on the board of something called the Major League Baseball Players’ Alumni Association, and one of the things that we do is we put on career summits every year so that former players can come and talk about career transition and so forth, and a lot of them want to get into coaching. One of the things that I’ve told them is that one of the most important qualities that anybody can have, but particularly a baseball player that wants to get into coaching or scouting is curiosity. You have to be curious about the things you don’t know. A lot of people will just say, ‘Hey, I’m a former player, and I want to coach the game.’ Well, in today’s game, those who are successful coaching aren’t always the ones who were successful playing. The ones that are successful coaching are the ones that bring that experience together with a lot of other expertise to bear when it comes to actually developing players. We could talk about communication skills and so forth, but I had a player development director in the room in the auditorium, so I asked him I said, ‘Look, if I were a former player, and I wrote you a letter saying was interested in coaching, I told you that I had spent two weeks learning Rapsodo and I spent another two weeks in Seattle at Driveline and I am very knowledgeable about the use of high speed cameras, etc, etc.’ So I asked the development director, ‘Would you call me? Would that distinguish me from all the other candidates?’ He said, ‘You bet. You’d get a call back right away.’ Because if you notice what’s happening, even at the Major League level, a lot of coaches are being hired out of college, because some of the colleges and university programs are more sophisticated than the ones that Major League teams have. Right? I was talking to a coach at Wake Forest in connection with the draft, they have a pitching lab there. They got all the bells and whistles. Now the key is, and this gets back to your question about the next big thing to me. It’s not so much about ideas as about execution. So it’s not the next new idea, it’s execution on all the existing ideas. One of the reasons I say that is because new ideas are not new very long, because a lot of these developments are taking place outside the framework of Major League Baseball. A lot of the interesting research that’s being done is not being done by teams, it’s being done by others who publish that in Baseball Reference or Baseball Perspectus or some other publication. The thing about new ideas is they become ubiquitous almost overnight. It’s hard to keep anything that secret that creates a competitive advantage in terms of an idea. It’s all about execution. Analytics is not as objective right as everybody says they are. Why? Because when people put together an analytical system, they’re making subjective judgments about the weight of certain factors, whether certain factors can be taken into account, the quality of the data predicated for the analysis. These things are not as objective as they’re portrayed to be because they require subjective inputs. To me, execution is the most important thing. It’s easy to say, ‘we’ve got high speed cameras, we got Rapsodo, we got weighted balls, we got blah, blah, blah, blah.’ Okay, what are you doing with them? How do you put it all together in a way that enhances the development of a player? Just because you have the technology or you understand the technology doesn’t mean that you can bring it to bear in the development of the player. So to me, the teams that are really good right now have created systems within their organizations that take full advantage of the resources that are available. If you just say, ‘Well, we’re going to buy this system of cameras,’ okay, what are you going to do with them? It’s great to have a background in technology, it’s great to have a background in analytics, but the most important thing is figuring out a way to bring those things to bear in the development process, or in the coaching process. And the teams that distinguish themselves and are successful are the teams that execute well. One of the things we didn’t have with the Mets is what I’d call like a Systems Director, somebody who was responsible for putting all of these systems into play in a way that they enhance player development. You can have a TrackMan or something with each affiliate, but if the coaches don’t know how to use it, or they’re not comfortable with it, it’s useless. We want to search out for the next big idea, but the bottom line is we got to do well, we got to do better than anyone else [in] what we’re all trying to do. That make sense? 

Shane:

That kind of reminds me Sandy, of when you had Billy Beane in our class, and someone asked a similar type question of what’s next. And he said, the thing that I want to know, under the evolution of analytics is how do we keep our guys healthy? Because we can run 10 million simulations. But as soon as the guy gets hurt, all the simulations get thrown out the window.

Sandy:

Right. Yep. And that is the next horizon. Maybe this is what creates the unpredictability, it’s more than anything else. It’s health, physical health, mental health. So it’s going to be interesting, for example, in connection with these 60 games that MLB is going to play starting next week. And that is who responds well from the hiatus, both physically and mentally. There are going to be players that break down because they didn’t spend a lot of time working out, or maybe they spent too much time working out during that four-month hiatus. There are people whose mental acuity and mental perspective is not going to be sharp from the get-go and over 60 games, you can’t just kind of work your way into it. I was talking with Billy the other day and we were talking about, you know, we got like three candidates to play second base. This is just the sort of a manifestation of the same problem. So, ‘okay, we’re gonna let a guy play 20 games and see how he does?’ ‘No, the seasons a third over if we do that.’ So it’s gonna be really interesting to see how individuals and teams respond to these changed circumstances because it’s a whole different thing. That mental game, just how people respond to being tested all the time. Or having to maintain six feet of distance. People are gonna react in different ways. It’s gonna be fascinating to watch. Just from a sociological experimental standpoint.

Shane:

Totally. I’m glad you touched on that. I guess I was wanting to get to that, a little bit about the short season, but we’re well past the timeline here. So I’m just gonna thank you now for joining us. That was super enlightening and entertaining. I think I speak for all of us to say we’re really lucky to have you on. So I really appreciate you taking the time.

Sandy: 

I had a great time. Sorry I spoke so long, but I’m still hoping at some point to find out more about the Japanese minor league system and how universities contribute to baseball in Japan. So maybe that’s another day for me.

Shane:

Yeah, well, I’ll give you the green light to sign off. Sandy, thank you very much for joining us and hope to see you down the road.

Sandy:

All right. Take care. All righty.

Shane:

Thank you.

Check out more “Chatter Up!” transcripts and summaries at our blog, and watch more discussions on our YouTube channel!

Comments are closed.