This week, Hannah Keyser hops aboard the Brew Crew Bandwagon for the first time in three seasons, gives her take on waffles, the Hall of Fame and intentional balks, and welcomes ESPN baseball analyst Jessica Mendoza to the show to share her Humble Proposal to Fix Baseball.
HANNAH KEYSER: I (BEEP) love breakfast. I was having this conversation with somebody recently about why brunch is good. I'm not into brunch for the alcohol, or for the clout.
HANNAH KEYSER: --or for those sort of like social scene. I'm just in it for the fact that you get to eat more breakfast. It's breakfast, but at a time when you're hungrier. I think what I really like is Brynner.
I'm Hannah Keyser, and this is The Bandwagon. We are rapidly approaching postseason preview territory here at Bandwagon HQ. And as I was perusing the league standings the other day, I noticed something a little bit troubling. A team with a 100% chance of winning their division according to FanGraphs's playoff odds that we've basically never talked about not in pre-seasons.
So that's why this week, after a season of tortured conceits, we are throwing it back to how we used to frame episodes and just Bandwagoning--
- Yea. Whoop. Whoop.
HANNAH KEYSER: The team that's best known for having a logo that makes it go. Oh, yeah, I see it. It's pretty much guaranteed to make their fourth consecutive postseason appearance this year while still looking for their first-ever championship. This time they have these sneaky best top three starters, a new owner with recent ring experience and, as of right now, the biggest division lead in all of baseball, thanks in part, to this.
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- Swagger the draft to right indeed. Get up. Get up. Get up. And here it comes for Daniel Vogelbach.
He just hit a walk-off grand slam home run.
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That's Daniel Vogelbach, a man built like a keg with a chinstrap hitting a walk-off grand slam against third division rival, Cardinals. After getting DFA, the both the Mariners and Blue Jays, Vogelbach has been so successful in Milwaukee, makes sense if you're inspired by the type and all. But when he got hurt earlier this summer, they went out and got the next best thing in BP left-handed first baseman who fell to the Toronto, Rowdy Tellez. Turns out that's a pipeline with replicable results because Tellez has been, I mean, not great, but enough above average to keep his spot in the lineup.
So Vol goes back to pinch-hitting in key spots and demonstrating the gender-neutral ease of wearing in one piece, especially if you're willing to tailor the sleeves to fit your frame.
HANNAH KEYSER: If you think about it, baseball uniforms, they could also be rompers. You know, with those [INTERPOSING VOICES] Speaking of mid-season additions even before the blockbuster moves of midsummer, the Brewers pulled off one of the best trades this year in "Free Willy for Escape From the Trop" two months before the deadline, and then one game below 500, Milwaukee acquired a struggling Willy Adames from the Rays.
Since then, they've gone 62 and 32 powered by their affable shortstop with an OPS 40% better than average in that time. It is a strong argument against procrastination. If a player is going to help your team, it's better to have them for longer, and also getting out of Florida whenever possible.
Thomas's prior home-road splits support the idea that a change of scenery was all he really needed but a magical hug from Mookie Betts's fine. [INAUDIBLE] probably didn't hurt. See, they're hugging.
In other new player news that doesn't do as much to explain the team's dominance, or should the Brewers have posted this quote "tweet bait," Jackie Bradley Jr. is starting semi-regularly despite a batting average starts with a one, probably-- I'd like to talk about it anyway. I've been thinking about it ever since because what would the game look like if there were no bats and no pitchers and instead offense just tossed the ball out into the field, but everything else was exactly the same? No strikeouts, no walks, all would be in play every time. Instead of batting, we'd call it chucking. What's there chucking average?
One effect of baseball without pitchers would be that the Brewers probably wouldn't be a postseason caliber team, no offense to their offense. But the whole reason we're talking about the team today is Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, and Freddy Peralta. There's a whole lot of not, especially fun numbers to back the claim that they're each Ace worthy and amount to a nearly unbeatable location. But the best proof is simply that they put their team into a position to cruise into October in spite of the fact that Christian Yelich has been a shell of his MVP self ever since that knee injury two years ago, you could literally replace him with Pete Davidson at the plate, and no one would even notice.
Another thing that's cool is that the Brewers actually have multiple guys who care the planet is becoming increasingly inhospitable to baseball, and also the rest of human society and--
- Care more about the former.
HANNAH KEYSER: --and his advocates for environmentalists and probably won't actually turn back the tide on these slow-rolling mass extinction event that is climate change. But it does make you like your baseball team a little more, they host sustainability forms at the stadium. Reliable long reliever Brent Suter actually has a dual Environmental Science and Public Policy degree from Harvard.
And since he's already proven his acting chops repeatedly in team commercials--
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- We usually don't pick up hitchhikers. But I'm going to go with my instincts on this one. Saddle up, partner.
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And George Clooney failed at his lifelong dream to play for the Reds, and they both care about saving the planet. Simple masters a friend suitor is simply better than George Clooney. Root for the Brewers, if they get far enough into October, I'll probably have to actually learn where Milwaukee is.
HANNAH KEYSER: Not a fan. You know this. I never drink.
HANNAH KEYSER: I don't drink much alcohol.
HANNAH KEYSER: There's much fun naturally.
Beer, in particular-- I don't think anybody the taste of beer. Why do you make all these different beer flavors? When like, just the point is to get drunk, right? They're not good.
Whenever I'm trying to drink an alcohol, it's just like once every two months, then I'm like, hey, what would you give to a child that you were trying to get drunk for totally legal reasons?
Like, I wanted it to taste juice, which is why I will drink a cider. I only like fruity cocktails if it doesn't come with a maraschino cherries and I'm not interested--
- The Hall of Fame.
HANNAH KEYSER: My pitch for the Hall of Fame is, I don't think-- it's like, just because you were good at baseball doesn't mean you should be in the Hall of Fame. You should only be in the Hall of Fame as like a person with a plaque, your bat can be there if you did something cool one day. But like the [INAUDIBLE] of plaques in the Hall of Fame are people who like indelibly changed the history of baseball in a way that can be described in a single sentence that doesn't rely on stats.
The idea that it is both an honorific and also an attempt to capture baseball's history makes it really tough to sort of like have those things necessarily aligned because sometimes people are famous for reasons that are not necessarily excellent ergo --Barry Bonds should be in the Hall of Fame.
We tie ourselves into knots trying to justify not putting people in the Hall of Fame who quite clearly had a massive impact on a generation of baseball, because we're so committed to making it both like a value judgment as well as like a recounting of baseball's history. Anyway, the Hall of Fame, in theory, fair. The Hall of Fame in practice, perfect.
- Waffle House?
HANNAH KEYSER: Never been.
- You should go. It's great.
HANNAH KEYSER: I assume they have waffles? I've been to IHOP. Pancakes and waffles, we're just going to talk about that instead. Waffle House, I don't know. So I don't like waffles because my sister does.
So I refuse to eat waffles because I was like, wow, that's is Emily's--
--pancakes. [LAUGHS] Waffles, not a fan.
- Intentional balks?
HANNAH KEYSER: It's a thing pitchers are doing because they are so paranoid about the runner on second stealing signs and relaying them to the batter, that they would rather that runner be on third base, 90 feet closer to scoring, than be on second base, where they can potentially see what the pitcher is doing, or potentially communicate with the batter at the plate.
And I just think you're admitting that the opposition has gotten into your head, you're nervous that they have the advantage. And I just think that that's not a great head game, like you you're losing the head game even if you think you're, you're getting an advantage in the actual game. As a viewer, a fan, as a-- if I were a manager, I would never call foul. No offence.
I'm here with Jessica Mendoza, Olympic gold medal softball player and ESPN baseball analyst. And you're going to pitch me on your humble proposal to fix baseball.
JESSICA MENDOZA: You and I were both in Tokyo coming off while covering international baseball. One of the biggest things that jumped out to me, and I've played with this rule and we've seen it in the minor leagues already implemented, is the pitch clock. And the reason I say that 20 seconds, I'd love to even push it to 15, like let's do this, is you don't notice there is a clock and in covering international ball and playing with a pitch clock myself. Once it's implemented it's amazing how the clock is nonexistent, like you just catch and go.
It's just more of a mindset shift for pitchers. And with that, I know you said one, but with that comes the batters cannot leave the batter's box. One foot has to remain in the batter's box, foul ball stuff like that they can get out past balls, of course, hitter and pitcher accountability with like, let's go, like, come on. And I've seen it happen. I've played with it. It's just so much nicer to be able to just catch and go.
HANNAH KEYSER: I mean, you're right. Over in Tokyo watching the baseball, I totally notice the batter rule, the sort of can't step out of the batter's box. It feels like you're watching highlights almost because it's like-- you're right. It's like pitch hit, like there's no-- there's not as much dead time. Who would hate this the most?
If we implemented this on both sides, pitch clock, batters got to keep their foot in the box--
JESSICA MENDOZA: Pitchers.
HANNAH KEYSER: --which had-- yeah.
JESSICA MENDOZA: Pitchers, and not all pitchers, but I definitely think there's pitchers out there. And you know, we're seeing it extreme with the sticky stuff and like any kind of adjustments, like you've seen the mental freak out, which I understand mid-season. But now you're talking about certain pitchers that have a pace that catch the ball, they might walk around the mound, they might look at somebody, pick up dirt.
God knows, like there's a million little routines the pitchers have. My biggest thing is like we're stopping that you're going to change. It's for the betterment of the game. I know is a hitter. When we had it was just that simple mindset of like when I'm up to bat, like you already feel like it's gone time.
HANNAH KEYSER: This is honestly like the easiest. Yes, this is the easiest, like I'm a fan. It just does feel like we talk around the issues so much in sort of baseball coverage, like the game is too long, the game is too slow, there's too much downtime. I don't know why we haven't just been like, OK, you know, like maybe we'll go back to the regular extra innings or maybe we will-- whatever, but like the actual just like people standing around. We can lose that like absolutely. Who's fighting for that?
JESSICA MENDOZA: Probably it's-- still the game will still have its slowness, like it's not like we do a pitch clock and then like everything's gone.
HANNAH KEYSER: Yeah, exactly.
JESSICA MENDOZA: Yes.
HANNAH KEYSER: Awesome.
This week we talked about the Brewers. It's our first time talking about like one specific team all season. I got to finally wear a hat again. I like how I look in hats. We should do that more often.
The Brewers, they've locked up the NL Central that race pretty much-decided, but tons of races still not decided, still very exciting, particularly the NL West, I like that one the best. And we'll talk about all the races that are still left to watch next on--