Tuesday morning, TBS announced that former MLBers Harold Reynolds and Dennis Eckersley would be joining Ernie Johnson and Cal Ripken, Jr. as part of the "TBS MLB All-Star Game Selection Show" which will air Sunday, July 6th at 2 p.m. ET. At that time, the starting line-up and reserves for this year's All-Star Game will be announced.
Later in the day, the broadcast team held a conference call to talk about matters leading up to the show on Sunday. Here's some highlights.
- Harold Reynolds, TBS MLB studio analyst
- Dennis Eckersley, TBS MLB studio analyst
- Cal Ripken, Jr., TBS MLB studio analyst
- Ernie Johnson, TBS MLB studio host
- Jeff Behnke, Turner Sports executive producer
Johnson on what makes a good studio team: “What has worked on TNT’s basketball show on Inside the NBA with Charles (Barkley), Kenny (Smith) and Magic (Johnson) and Reggie (Miller) is the fact that the guys are honest and aren’t afraid to speak. It’s a pretty free-form, non-rehearsed, spontaneous show. It gives you the feel of people who are sitting at home watching a game or show and no one asks for permission to talk, you don’t have to have your hand raised and I call on you and I think that’s what works…(The TBS MLB studio show is) free-flowing where there are no real rules and it’s not going to look like a rehearsed show. I think that’s really the key.”
Eckersley on his style as a TV analyst: “My style is perfect for TBS because it’s sort of free-form. I try to be as honest as I can, but at the same time having played I know how difficult it is to play. So there’s a fine line between being honest and being careful, not going too far. I try to have energy more than anything else but that comes easy because I have such a passion for it.”
Eckersley on the biggest surprise team thus far this season: “The biggest (surprise) that jumps out is Tampa Bay . Being in that tough division and being in first place, I kept thinking, ‘Are they going to last?’ Well, they’ve made it halfway here. Their pitching staff is better than I thought and they’re energetic. They’re happy to be where they are.”
Reynolds on his style as a TV analyst: “I like to talk about baseball, look at the game and break it down. When you do that it allows you to be real honest because you are talking about what a player should have been doing, what happens in a situation, that type of stuff. Take you inside a game, look at it and break it down in that way. I love to do that, that’s what I enjoy the most, thinking like what the manager might think and what decisions might be going on in his head and try to anticipate how I might play a situation.”
Reynolds on stand out players thus far in the season: “The players that stand out in my mind this year are number one, (Texas Rangers outfielder) Josh Hamilton. His comeback and the way he’s performed, he’s got a chance to win a triple crown…his performance and his off the field story is absolutely incredible. The other guy is Carlos Quentin with the White Sox. He’s putting up numbers and leading the league in homeruns. He made great adjustments in the off season…with him stepping up and sitting in the middle of that order has made the White Sox the team they are.”
Ripken on whether or not the Yankees will make the postseason: “I say (the Yankees will make the postseason this year). Tampa Bay is going to have a lot to say about that, they are going to be a strong team down the stretch, but I think that how they handle the pressure going down the stretch (will determine their postseason outlook). We know the Yankees can, the Yankees are a very talented team.”
Reynolds on his new analyst role on TBS: “I’m excited just to be involved in baseball, I love it. I feel like everything is behind me now, I’m moving on and a lot of doors are opening. I’m excited about it and the people at Turner are great. I’ve watched their work through the NBA, and also last year with the Selection Show, and they are quality people who put on a great broadcast and I’m excited to be a part of it.”
Ripken on the potential dangers of using maple baseball bats: “Maple bats are a little harder, they break when they break and pieces fly all over the place, but I can’t imagine it being any more than it was when I played in 2001. It seems to be a part of the game, they might be making a little too much out of it, but certainly if there is a way to stop them from fragmenting and going all over the place and potentially causing injury they should do that.”
Reynolds on why maple baseball bats break so often: “I think it’s more the volume of the bat, meaning they don’t use as thick a handle anymore and the bats are a lot lighter, the balances are different. That’s why guys are breaking bats so much, they use thin handles and at the head of the bat is a lot bigger and its gong to break. It’s dangerous, no doubt about it. I don’t think its maple or whatever substance they might be using to making the bat, I think its more in the design players are using now.
Ripken on the battle in the American League East: “The American League East has long been thought of as one of the hardest divisions in baseball, partly because of the success of the Red Sox and Yankees and the big market teams. The Orioles have surprised a lot of people to this point and Toronto has a pretty good club as well, but it hinges upon Boston and New York , and Boston seems to be a little better situated. New York has scrambled around in the early stages, but they still aren’t that far back, but the big factor is Tampa Bay . This is about gathering momentum and believing in yourself down the stretch. Tampa Bay is going to play a role in the Wild Card and in the division title down the stretch, but I think New York and Boston have too much experience and too much talent and those players will start stepping up in ways that will help them down the stretch.”
Eckersley on the recent incident involving Red Sox left fielder Manny Ramirez pushing a staff member: “It’s tough right now especially with the incident that happened a couple of days ago, which doesn’t fare well for (Manny Ramirez). He didn’t really talk too much for a number of years for several reasons, and then he’s been successful over the last year and people have gotten a chance to see Manny for what he is. This guy is a Hall of Famer, but he’s different, and some of the things he did were funny, but this recent incident doesn’t put him in a very good light. He’s addressed it, but I think he needs to do more than that. Manny being Manny is one thing but this recent thing doesn’t look good at all. Hopefully he can do something and get this behind him.”
Ripken on the quirky personality of Red Sox left fielder Manny Ramirez: “You hear people say, ‘Manny being Manny,’ and it’s almost like a cute little slogan and a lot of people laugh with it. It seems to give Manny (Ramirez) permission to do quirky things. I think we love it when he opens up a little bit and we see his personality. I know him pretty well, I know he’s a good hearted guy, he’s a gamer of a ball player and he’s the one guy you hate to see at the plate when you’re facing him. But I’m a little concerned, when you see ‘Manny being Manny,’ it gives him permission to do other things. But I’m not someone who wants to blow out of proportion things that happen in the clubhouse, When you play with people every single day and you go on the road, people are in bad moods, in good moods and every once in a while tempers will flair for the dumbest sort of reasons. This could possibly be for a dumb reason or it could build up at some point and I wouldn’t be willing to over blow this situation.”