Editor’s Note: Yesterday, I had the privilege of interviewing ESPN Baseball Tonight host Karl Ravech. Ravech has been the host of Baseball Tonight since 1995. Karl was nice enough to give me a few minutes of his time to talk about the Yankees, baseball in general and about the sports industry.~JE
Jason Evans: First and foremost, I wanted to thank you for taking time to speak with me today. I obviously have to ask you about Michael Pineda‘s 10-game suspension. What are your thoughts and feelings on it?
Karl Ravech: I figured it was going to be 10 games, especially when Joel Peralta got eight for having pine tar in his glove. I think the punishment had to do with the egregious nature of what Pineda did. The issue is, is that within the letter of the law what he did was illegal, however, with pine tar there is a lot of gray area.
JE: Masahiro Tanaka will be on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball for the first time. What has impressed you so far about him, and what are you going to look for Sunday when he faces guys like Mike Trout and Albert Pujols for the first time?
KR: Tanaka has a good combination of skills, ability and confidence. You can tell he’s very competitive on the mound. The thing that’s different about Tanaka is that he doesn’t remind me of any of the other pitchers that have come from Japan. There’s no hesitation in his delivery and he’s not long and lean. He’s very tenacious, aggressive and confident in his ability. I will be interested to see how Pujols approaches his at-bats and how Tanaka approaches Trout who’s probably the AL’s best player.
JE: With Derek Jeter retiring after this season, what is a memory that you’ll take away from his career, and it doesn’t have to be anything like the flip play, but something fans wouldn’t know about?
KR: I have two that come to mind. One is when myself, Stuart Scott and Josh Elliott filmed a Sportscenter commercial in the city with the Phillie Phanatic. Jeter had a great sense of humor on set, and it was nice to see him in his element in New York City. He also really showed off the acting ability that he had.
I’ve watched almost every game of his and I have great respect for him on and off the field.
JE: What were your thoughts on the Yankees coming into the season and have they changed since the season began?
KR: Predictions are risky, but I thought if they could stay healthy and combined with a little bit of Jeter magic, I wouldn’t be shocked if they won the World Series. The players they added in the off-season like Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, while they each have their red flags, are guys who have played in the spotlight and under a microscope. You can see how much the Red Sox have missed Ellsbury so far, and how much the Yankees have benefited from him just in their head-to-head match-ups so far. I think the Yankees will do everything they can to have Jeter go out on top with another ring. They are going to be like that shark if they smell blood in the water. You could see that this off-season when they spent a lot of money, when in the past few, they haven’t been as aggressive.
KR: As far as hitters go it’s Barry Bonds, whether you believe steroids played a factor in it or not. He was just better than everyone else. Even in his “ordinary” years, he was still extraordinary. He just made consistent, solid, contact.
Pitching-wise, no one could top what Pedro Martinez did in 1999. Between the All-Star Game and the playoffs that year, and the start against the Yankees. Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens were dominant as well, but I’d have to go with Pedro.
JE: What advice would you give people reading this who want to be in sports or break into it and be the next Karl Ravech?
KR: I graduated from Ithaca in 1987 and after that it was about getting in front of prospective employers. It meant me going to places like Rochester and Binghamton in upstate NY. Technology gives people such an advantage now where they can post their own videos and create their own websites. I ended up meeting people at ESPN which is one-hundred percent of the reason why I was able to get a meeting in front of the people I needed to get a meeting with. I actually finished second in the process, but was able to get the job because the person who finished first couldn’t get out of the contract he had. The person who finished first? Dan Shulman.
JE: What a great story! Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today.
KR: You’re welcome.
You can catch Karl on Baseball Tonight weeknights at 10 p.m. and before Sunday Night Baseball at 7 p.m. The Yankees host the Angels on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball this coming Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.