Earlier this week ESPN and Baseball Tonight's Karl Ravech was kind enough to take some time and talk about the Royals, 2016 baseball season, Jessica Mendoza, and much more. Below you'll find some excerpts from that interview, as well as the audio.
Apologies for the poor-ish quality as we had some technical difficulties during the interview. Also note that below in my transcriptions you'll find just part of Karl's answers. I urge you to listen to his full response. Karl couldn't have been a nicer guy and any more accommodating.
In regards to Sunday's broadcast, what pre-game topics are going to be covered?
"[We will] review of the Royals run to the last two World Series, and what changes, or really the lack of changes that they've made to improve themselves. The belief among the clubhouse that they are the team to beat..."
Last year you liked the Mets in the World Series because of their strong pitching staff. The Royals this year are a little more built on duct tape and glue. They have succeeded the past two years despite not having a stellar rotation. Do you think that trend is something that can continue?
"[The Royals'] formula works because they rely [on] decent pitching, which they'll have again, good defense, which they'll have again, they rely on contact hitters with patience at the plate...which they have again and then team speed. So all the things that lead to success they have in place. They don't have a ton of guys who go into slumps, they don't have a lot of swing and miss guys, they don't depend on the home run. The young guys they have, who are getting a little older, are still capable of doing better than they have in years prior."
As someone who is more on the inside than us at Royals Review, has the opinion or general external sense of the Royals front office changed since winning the World Series?
"The consensus on the Royals is that people shake their heads at the success that they've had because nobody seems to be able to get their head around the payroll, the lack of a Max Scherzer or a Zack Greinke on a staff - the ingredients that teams rely on to win that the Royals don't..."
Several of your ESPN college just today made their picks for the different division winners. How do you see the AL Central shaking out and who do you think will win?
Karl notes that he doesn't necessarily like participating in this sort of thing because you never win if you make predictions. However he goes on to note that:
"I would probably lean towards a closer race than in years past because I do think the Indians are better, the White Sox are too, but the Royals are still the best team in the division"
At Royals Review we are very much sabermetric heavy. How does the ESPN or Baseball Tonight staff balance between the more traditional side and the more saber friendly side?
"(Sabermetrics) confirms what (teams) knew and it also gives more specifics about a players value or defensive deficiencies, or their pitching without the factors that they can't control but I do have a hard time believing that a team built solely on sabermetrics will be far different than a team on no sabermetrics."
Even though it shouldn't be a big thing, women in broadcasting should be natural, this will be the first full season of getting to hear Jessica Mendoza on the broadcast. She's done some college world series games with you and now will be a permanent fixture on the Sunday night crew. What do you think she brings to the team and are you excited to get to spend more time alongside her?
"The groundbreaking aspect if you will for Jessica is that she's a woman but the most important part is that she's not breaking any ground as far as being in a booth and having not played at the major league baseball level."
One of our readers really wants to know if you've ever had an interaction with Rex Hudler. We all love him for who he is. Is there a Rex story you may have?
"What I recall about being around the "Rexclamation Point", as what I used to call him because everything is said with such great enthusiasm, that his energy was contagious and is contagious. His passion for the game rubs off and it kinda gets you excited..."
A little off topic, but it looks like your son is trying to follow in your footsteps a bit. He did play-by-play for Pepperdine and now looks like he'll be interning at ESPN this year. That's obviously exciting for you and your family. Have you parted with any wisdom for him and does he come to you for help?
"Him getting that internship was the person that hired him said that 'I've heard a lot of nice things about you and none of them have come from your dad."
On working potentially with his son
*Note that on this question I improvised a bit. I perhaps accidentally asked if there was any favoritism towards his son receiving the ESPN internship. My apologies to Ravech and his family if that was the case.
Again a big thanks to Karl, Ben Cafardo, and ESPN. You can watch Karl and the Sunday Night baseball crew live from Kauffman Stadium this evening on Baseball Tonight Sunday Night Countdown starting at 7pm CT on ESPN before the Royals open their season against the Mets.