ESPN’s Dan Shulman on the Baltimore Orioles
With tonight’s series finale against New York being broadcast on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, Dan Shulman and John Kruk are in town to handle the play-by-play and color commentary. First off let me state that I’m a huge fan of the concept of the Sunday night game, and thus Baltimore Orioles fans should be honored to see the Birds being showcased like this. The idea of course is that most teams play afternoon games on Sundays, save for the one “game of the week” which airs on national TV in prime time.
Photo courtesy of ESPN
Nevertheless, I had the opportunity to speak over the telephone with the aforementioned Dan Shulman, who of course is “The Voice of Sunday Night Baseball.” I feel that it’s good for Orioles fans to get a national perspective on the team, as I suspect that many folks are tired of hearing people like me talk and write about them! However national pundits such as Mr. Shulman will always have a wider view of any team and/or players, so it’s always interesting to hear their opinions. Below is an outline/summary of my conversation with Mr. Shulman:
Domenic: With Chris Tillman on the mound for the Orioles tonight, how does he stack up compared to most of the “aces” that you see league-wide?
Dan Shulman: Tillman doesn’t have the career accomplishments of a Max Scherzer or Justin Verlander as of yet for sure. But he’s a guy to whom you can give the ball on a weekly basis and get a good quality start. Based on his statistics of late, he’s as much of an ace as any of those guys.
Domenic: Do you feel that there’s anything that the Orioles need to do to make themselves a more complete team prior to the postseason?
Dan Shulman: The Orioles have had a great season, and I don’t think that they’ve gotten enough credit for how things have gone. When you combine the fact that Davis hasn’t been what he was expected to be, Machado’s injuries plus suspension, Matt Wieters’ injury, etc, they’re a very good team and they haven’t received the credit that they deserve to this point. If there’s one concern out there it might be their reliance on the home run ball to score so many of their runs, but they’re finding ways to win and the fact is that they don’t get enough credit for that.
Domenic: In going around the league each week with Sunday Night Baseball, how do you feel that Adam Jones stacks up compared to some of the other center fielders league-wide?
Dan Shulman: Similar to the team overall Adam Jones doesn’t get enough credit for being the great center fielder that he is. I think that he’s one of the best players in baseball.
Domenic: With the Orioles’ bullpen being as strong as it is, how big of an advantage can that be in a post season series?
Dan Shulman: Everyone knows how important a decent closer is, and the Orioles have a good one in Zach Britton. But I think that the 7th and 8th inning guys are equally if not more important to a team. A bullpen of their caliber is a huge advantage in October. Andrew Miller was a great acquisition and it’s solidified their pen moreso than it already was. That combined with the likes of Hunter, O’Day, Britton, and Matusz makes them very formidable, espcially with the three lefties.
Domenic: What are the odds of seeing a Beltway World Series?
Dan Shulman: It’s certainly very possible. Washington is probably the best team in the National League and they have a great roster. The Angels and Dodgers are certainly another local matchup that could occur, as are the Giants and A’s. You never know what happens once you get into October and how things shake down, but it wouldn’t be a huge surprise.
On a personal note, I watch Sunday Night Baseball every Sunday evening after my duties for Birds Watcher are complete; so this was a thrill for me to speak with Mr. Shulman, and on behalf of Birds Watcher and the Fansided Network I really appreciated the time that he gave me.
Obviously this conversation took place prior to the announcement of Chris Davis’ suspension, but obviously that would have worked right into his commentary of how the Orioles are underrated based on the number of big-name players who are missing. I can’t stress enough how complimentary he was of the O’s; when I asked if there was anything that they needed to improve upon overall he almost struggled to come up with something! In fact my response to him was that I thought the bit about relying on home runs was a fair criticism, and he was very quick to correct me and say that he wasn’t being critical – just offering commentary!
His views on the bullpen were also very interesting to me. He was very complimentary of the arms that Buck Showalter has out there, as well as how they’re used. My overall takeaway from the conversation was that he really likes and respects the way the Orioles play. The word underrated came up several times, both in relation to Adam Jones and in the team overall.
I also want to mention that Curt Schilling will make his 2014 debut in the booth tonight with Dan Shulman, John Kruk, and Buster Olney after battling cancer for some time. As the son of a cancer survivor, I tip my cap to him and wish him well. The game of course begins at 8 PM, and will be preceeded by Baseball Tonight Sunday Night Countdown at 7 PM with Karl Ravech and Hall of Famer Barry Larkin. Once again, my thanks to Dan Shulman for being so gracious and taking the time to speak with me.