Q & A VII
Thanks to one-five for the email response last night. Kev never had a problem laughing and having fun on the field that’s for sure.
BTW, for anyone that missed the links in the earlier posts. There is a young man named Peter DeSpain, you can check his blog out at
He is currently undergoing Chemotherapy. If you could stop by and say a prayer or a hello and best wishes I know he gets fired up anytime people he doesn’t know stop by. I asked him to come up with something I could put on my shoe to remind him that even when I am pitching I’m thinking of him and he came up with “4 Pete’s Sake”, so look for a black reebok this year, with that slogan on it. They are working on it now. And thanks in advance to anyone stopping by there and leaving a get well message, much appreciated.
To answer a ton of you that have asked, about time spent doing this and it affecting my work/preperation for baseball. I would imagine, in all of sports, starting pitchers on major league teams during spring training have far more free time than you can imagine. I don’t expect the pace of posts to keep up once we start the season, but right now and when we travel during the season and my family is not with me I’ll be able to keep up the Q&A pace. If I am not doing this I am playing Vanguard or WoW down here.
Q-Who else has upgraded their starting pitching in 2007?
A-I think a lot of teams upgraded, but maybe not in the traditional sense. If Harden stays healthy the A’s are better. Zito make’s anyones staff better. Health, more than some signings, will be huge again this year for starting rotations. If you can run your top 3, and in a perfect world 4, starters to the mound every time their turn is up you have a big time chance to win a lot of games.
Q-When did I really feel I had made it?
A-The morning after Game 5 of the 1993 World Series.
Q-I understand the desire to not face AL East teams, but isn’t the reverse true? Might you learn something from them by facing them in ST?
A-I don’t think so. I think the pitcher, if he prepares, has a huge advantage. That implies some things as well, the most important being that regardless of how prepared you are, if you can’t command your fastball no game plan in the world gives you an edge.
Q-Does one hitter protect another in the lineup, in the pitchers mind?
A-I think that depends on how you look at it. The first time it ever hit me that a hitter is affected by another hitter was in 1992. I was pitching in Pittsburgh, Van Slyke was hitting ahead of Bonds at the time and I had run a full count to him. I think there were runners on 2nd and 3rd. I know Barry’s on deck, and I know Andy knows I know, and in my mind I am thinking that he’s thinking “no way this guy wants to face Bonds with the bases drunk”, so I feel like he’s sitting fastball no matter what. I throw a split and he is out in front by about a day and a half. That’s when I started to realize that the protection thing can go two ways with smart hitters. I think that’s also where I was way behind the ‘mental’ game when I got to the big leagues. I didn’t start pitching until I was 18 and I played with guys in the minor leagues that already knew things like this and had a very mature feel for the game. I always felt Pedro was incredible at this, he could ‘watch’ the game while he was pitching, see things no one else sees, and make adjustments off of that. It’s a lot harder to do than it sounds, I’ve never been able to do it and since I have been in Boston I’ve relied on ‘Tek, who’s incredible at adjusting to hitters while they are in the box, pitch to pitch, AB to AB.
Q-I read that Beckett’s problems last year were him relying on his FB too much, doesn’t Tek make sure that doesn’t happen?
A-First off it’s not true. At that age I threw a lot more fastballs per game than Josh did, or does now, and he throws about 5mph harder than I ever threw at that age. The difference is in command. If you’ll notice, Josh’s K to BB rate this spring is ridiculous. It’s something that takes time to learn, and to be able to do, and he’s getting better every day at commanding his FB inside the strike zone. One thing that I think is prevelant, and is not necessarily a good thing, is how many people try to teach pitchers to ‘pitch’ more. Use all of their pitches, all the time. No matter how hard you throw, from Bob Tewksbury to Bob Feller, fastball command is the key to being successful. Your fastball, and command of it, sets up everything else you throw. When a hitter has to concern himself with BOTH sides of the plate you gain a huge edge.
Q-What is the one thing you need in a game to be successful?
Q-Have the Red Sox gone back to 25 guys 25 cabs? Since the ’04 guys left it seems the good chemistry is gone?
A-No. The last two years it’s been a great clubhouse. Different, because even when you keep the same 25 guys things in a clubhouse change year to year, but great. Chemistry is about winning, period. It starts in spring training, where having a good group of guys lays the foundation every year, but it doesn’t come into play until the games start counting. No clubhouse has good chemistry if you are losing. That’s not to mean it’s a bad place, but there’s a difference, a palpable difference, inside a winning and losing clubhouse, and that’s what the media calls chemistry. That chemistry, in 2004, was fun, light hearted, and all the things you read about because we were winning. If that team had been getting it’s butt kicked we’d have been vilified if we’d acted the same way, as a bunch of non-professional, non-caring rich spoiled kids.
Q-4 rounds of Ali or 4 Quarters of Butkus? Zepplin or Floyd? Who partied harder Damon or Millar?
A-Butkus because I get pads and I’d hit the dirt. Zepplin. No comment.
Q-Worried about pressure on Pedroia?
A-Absolutely not. This kid is a good egg. He’s got great makeup and he ‘gets it’. He might not hit .350 and win a gold glove this year, but he works to get better every day, and he’s talented from what I’ve been able to see. The amount of effort he put forth this winter to be the best he could on day one of camp told me he understood that it’s not a game.
Q-What’s Daisuke been like to watch in person?
A-Something new and fun every day. The best apart, aside from the fact that he’s probably the most polished 26 year old I’ve ever been around, is his demeanor, how much fun he has and how much he laughs every day. He’s got the far east work ethic, which is intense on a whole different level, and he seems to genuinely enjoy everything about what’s happening. I know I’m already better and learning from having him around.
Q-How important is a players number to him? Why 38?
A-To some it’s as important as anything, to others they don’t care at all. I chose 38 because I had been 43, the number they gave me when I came up with Baltimore. Then when I was traded to Houston they asked me, and I chose 19 because that had been my number for most of my life. When I was traded to Philly Kruk had 19, and I knew there was no chance of getting it. I figured I sucked in Houston and I might as well be twice as good if I could, and took 38. Actually a pretty stupid reason now that I think about it.
Q-Can the O’s overtake us?
A-No idea. If Daniel Cabrera figures it out, and Loewen keeps throwing like he has then they’ve got a pretty formidable top three with Bedard. They’re going to hit.
Q-You have set incredibly ambitious goals for 38 Studios and its role in the gaming industry. Are you worried at all about losing sight of your goals, or the company being passed down into incapable/corrupt hands? If so, what measures have you put in place (or wish to put in place) to prevent that from happening?
A-Not at all. The right people to handle the company are in place now and a few more are on the way in the coming months. The dev teams job is to make the games, the leaderships job is to facilitate the dev team while keeping their eyes on the long term goals and visions and how the current projects tie in to them.
Q-What game mechanic concept has really psyched you up in the past that you have yet to see in an MMORPG?
A-A true, immersive, incredibly well thought out and interactive story, that doesn’t feel like it’s being pushed on you. A story that doesn’t force you to do things that aren’t fun.
Q-Which upcoming MMORPG are you most looking forward to, if any? Is there a particular reason to why this particular game grabbed your interest? If you’re not looking forward to any MMORPG “soon” why not?
A-No question, Warhammer Online.
Q-World of WarCraft did an incredible job widening the MMO market with its 8.5 million account mark, however Blizzard had a huge fan base built long before WoW’s release. How do you expect a fledgling company like 38 Studios to compete in the vicious and highly-scrutinized arena of MMORPGs?
A-I have never looked at ‘toppling Blizzard’ as a goal, I don’t think that’s the right approach. I’ve always looked at our goals from the inside out. We have already started the ball rolling on aspects of this current project, that also encompass future goals, to allow us to reach a massive audience on day one.
Q-There are a lot of developers that try to put too much “stuff” (content, world, complex mechanics, etc.) into their games and the title suffers as a result; some get pushed back, others get pushed out early, and some get canned completely. Do you foresee any of these issues afflicting 38 Studios’ games? If so, are you prepared to handle them? If not, what have you done to prevent them from occurring?
A-No. We have the luxury of learning from other peoples mistakes. Our initial IP, and game, will be seen by no one before we deem it perfectly ready. While that sounds utopian, it’s also the MO we are working under, and always will. Every single piece of anything you put into the public eye represents you, and your people. If you can’t make the people in your company understand that and work with the goal of blowing people away, with everything from customer service to swag to actual games, then someone’s missing the boat. This group knows that, they’ve known that from day one and Brett and the other leadership people inside this company are operating with that same mind set.
Q-Some developers release far too much information on games way too early. How many years do you estimate it will be before it’s prudent to toss gamers a morsel on 38 Studios’ first endeavor?
A-I can’t answer that, other than to say we’ll know when. We’ve got people who’s job it is to tell us when the right time is, people who’ve made a living doing just that thing for some huge companies and popular IPs.
Q: What is your take on instancing?
A I think it has it’s places. I am for and against it, but I think that falls to the design team more than my personal opinion in most cases.
Q: Given that you are an Everquest 2 player, what elements of gameplay/design do you really enjoy from EQ2 that you may or may not incorporate into your game?
A EQ and EQ2 were my favorites for much the same reason. I love grouping and the social interaction both games and both worlds offered. Having said that I fast became a fan of solo play because WOW was the first game that would allow me to get ‘work’ done, in game, in bits and pieces if that’s what my schedule permitted.
Q: What is your opinion on NDAs? Do you think your game will have one?
Q: What do you feel about “Station-Exchange” type elements of games? Do you have any intention in facilitating sales of gear, currency and characters for RL cash?
A While there has been a ton of in depth discussions on this, nothing that’s been done or worked on is near a state where it could be discussed. And I would again add that while I have feelings and thoughts on this stuff, those feelings and thoughts may not be the majority opinion, which matters a hell of a lot more than what I think.
Q-Your recap reminded me, I’ve always wanted to know; what goes through your mind between innings when things aren’t going well or you are worried that you don’t have all the tools you want or need on the mound on any given start?
A-In between innings I am trying to work through the next inning, pitch by pitch, hitter by hitter. I’ll go over all three hitters due up, how I want to start them, finish them, and then think through the fourth hitter and how I will pitch him with a runner on first, or how I’ll pitch him with a runner(s) in scoring position. There are times when I’ll piss and moan about the previous inning, but that’s something you work to eliminate since nothing that happened in the last inning has anything to do with the first pitch of the next one.
Q-On SoSH awhile back there was a discussion what is more valuable: A catcher with an exceptional bat or exceptional catching skills?
A-The selfish side of me, the pitcher, doesn’t even think about what the catcher does at the plate. I’d love for ‘Tek to go 4-4 every night. My main concern, and another huge differentiating factor for Jason, is that he NEVER allows his AB’s to follow him behind the plate. That’s rarer than you might think. There are a lot of catchers who have little to no interest in being as involved in calling a game as someone like Jason, they want to hit and that’s their focus. Pitchers can see this, and it matters to them.
Q-Who do you think is the best lefty of all time? Does RJ beat out Koufax?
A-I think that comparison is the same as comparing Roger to Pedro. I think Pedro’s three best years are the best ever, by anyone, but Rogers done what he’s done for over 20 years. Same thing with RJ and Koufax. Sandy, if he’d stayed healthy, would have put up even sicker numbers than he did. RJ’s won 5 Cy Youngs, and been pretty much the most dominant LHP of the last 12-15 years.
Q-This might be too personal, but if you don’t mind.. could you please please tell me a little about your father? Is it true that he was in the famed 101st airborn division? Sounds amazing. He must have had an impact on you, and at least helped turn you into what you are today.
A-My dad was an amazing person. I was told when I got older that the day I wa born, I came home from the hospital and he had put a glove and ball in my crib. Always the baseball fan. He’s the reason I grew up a Pirate and Steeler fan as well. He was born and raised in Somerset, PA. Spent 20 years in the Army. I was young when I found out that he’d served in the 101st. I was rummaging around in the garage one day when I found his Airborne Jacket and jump boots. He never talked much about serving; I do know he was en route to Korea when the war ended. He loved sports. He never managed me growing up but he always helped out coaching. He never, ever, pushed me to play any one sport over another, but his rules were clear. If I didn’t play hard, and play right, I wouldn’t play. I was not allowed to throw equipment, and talking back to an umpire would get me kicked off any team I played on. He was the dad that always stood along the outfield fence, he couldn’t stand the chatter in the stands, always wanted to watch the game and be left alone doing it.
He also made me believe he could predict sporting events, often. He called Willie Stargell’s homer late in the 1979 series, and about a thousand other plays and pitches from games we watched together.
The most nervous I’ve ever been, including game 7 of the 2001 series, was when he came to see me, the only time he ever saw me professionally, in 1987 in Greensboro, NC. He came right before the all-star break, and I had been named to the team. I was pitching that night and he came on to the field to accept the award or whatever it was they’d presented me. I warmed up, and then went out and threw like 8 wild pitches, gave up about 200 runs, and got my head kicked in. I showered after the game, walked to the car, and got in. No idea what to say, I was probably as close to tears as I could be at 20 years old over a baseball game. He looks at me and says “Man, you sucked.” We laughed for about 10 minutes. Five days later he saw me for the last time and I threw a complete game shutout. That winter, a week before I was to leave for spring training, he suffered an aortic aneurysm and died. I’ve left him a ticket to every game I’ve ever pitched since then. There will absolutely come a day when we talk again and I need to make sure he knows that not one day of this would have been possible had it not been for him.
I never ever ran across anyone who had a bad word to say about him and I heard from many people when he passed away.
At his funeral, I had to speak about him and his life, and the thing I remember most vividly is how many of my little league, high school and junior college teammates and coaches came.
Q-So, my question is, is 38 Studios going to put out a game that will run pretty much on any PC or laptop (a la WoW) or something for hard-core PC Gamers?
A-An immensely important question. I think that dealing with min specs is something we are putting a large amount of time into. Part of what we want to do is change the way game content is delivered, not just within a specific platform but as a whole, so barrier to entry, technically, is a very important development issue for us.
Q-I’m trying to teach my 11 yr old son the finer points of pitching. Is there a particular resource (book, video, website, training program, etc) that you would recommend? I’m searching for something that emphasizes the proper mechanics of pitching thus reducing the risk of injury.
A-One thing I think about when you are talking about young kids and learning the game, learning fundamentals. The ball kids play with weighs too much. Take a major league ball vs the weight of the player throwing it. The ball kids use is not much different in size and weight but the player throwing it is vastly smaller and lighter. One of the things I did when I was young was, and my father taught me this way, to learn to throw using a tennis ball. The weight of a baseball is, in my opinion, way too heavy for 5-10 year old kids to learn proper throwing mechanics and fundamentals with. I watched this very thing with my first son. Gehrig’s throwing mechanics are perfect for a young kid, when he’s throwing a tennis ball, when you put a baseball in their hands the weight drags the hand down below the slot they’d normally be throwing in and I think that causes a lot of unnecessary strain way too early. Kids have to almost ‘heave’ a baseball, which starts teaching them poor mechanics from day one. Put a tennis ball in their hands and the motion becomes the focus, not the strain of actually throwing the object.