Bring Your Questions for Baseball Sage Buster Olney

DESCRIPTIONPhoto: Lisa Olney Buster Olney

If you care about baseball, you should care about Buster Olney. He is the ESPN baseball reporter who seems to know everything about everything, on the field and in the general managers’ offices, and presents it with a calm authority.

I got to know Buster a bit when I was an editor at The Times Magazine and he was the paper’s Yankees beat writer. His articles never failed to include one detail, perhaps about a player’s preparation or an executive’s unorthodox thinking, that turned a daily game report into a memorable piece of reading. He says he fell in love with baseball and writing while growing up on his parents’ farm in Vermont. To escape “the tractors and twice-daily milkings,” he began what became an 18-year career writing for newspapers, including six years at The Times, where he also covered the Mets and the New York Football Giants.

He now writes for ESPN The Magazine, ESPN.com, provides baseball analysis on a variety of ESPN shows, and yes, he’s got a blog. He’s also the author of The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty.

Major League Baseball holds its All-Star Game tonight, so at this pause in the season, we thought it’d be a good time to ask Buster to field your baseball questions. Please leave them in the comments below and, as with all our Q&A’s, we’ll post the answers in short course. Living in New York, as I do, it is easy to become convinced there are only two teams in the league, the Yankees and the Mets. Oh yeah, there’s apparently a team in Boston too. It will be interesting to see how New York-centric your questions are, or aren’t.

Addendum: Olney answers your questions here.


Dan

Your justification for voting Jack Morris toward the Hall and not Bert Blyleven is simple nonsense (see, e.g., http://armchairgm.wikia.com/Buster,_A_Nut). Care to take another shot at it?

Mike D.

You and your colleagues often report on ongoing negotiations or trade talks between teams or a team and player. Why are the GM's feeding you this information? Is it to be transparent, or is it a means of controlling the negotiation? Or because you're such a nice guy?

David

The NBA, NFL and NHL all have much stronger salary caps relative to MLB. What is the likelihood of MLB moving to a true salary cap in the near future? And, in your opinion, would this move be good for the game?

Jeff

I understand that the East Coast has the largest population density but are you ever afraid that ESPN's focus on the East Coast turns off the rest of the country?

I have personally started to watch MLB Network instead of Baseball Tonight due to all the Yankee/Red Sox love.

Casey

If you could own your own baseball team, would you rather own a large market or small market team?

James Timmer

I am a Cubs fan. Life expectancy is roughly 75 years in the US. With this rubric, I have about 50 years left. My grandfather lived to 77 without seeing a Cubs World Series title.

My question is this: Do you think I will see a Cubs World Series title in my lifetime? Or will I die hapless, unfulfilled, and angry?

ryan

Buster, what are the chances the Phils go all out and snag Holliday? As a Phillies fan, I wouldn't mind seeing Drabek and some prospects go, but giving up Happ in any deal will just create another whole in the lineup, even if Holliday is a top 3 in the league pitcher.

Kevin M

As a fan of a small-market club (Cincinnati), the possibility of a salary cap intrigues me. What do you think are the odds this ever is put in place in some form, and if it is, would it help the sport's popularity and quality?

Jack

Considering they play in the toughest division, do you see the Orioles ever being relevant again?

WJSmith

Considering the stat-intensive nature of the game, what role has data mining had in how managers approach the game? Why don't we see managers engaged in dashboarding specific situational stats in the dugout rather than keeping them in their head or scribbled on a piece of paper? It seems like technology has really been implemented quite well for investigating pitchers' deliveries and batters' swings but not necessarily for managerial decisionmaking.

Coby

I would be interested to know what your thoughts are on the new style of stadiums which are sprouting up all throughout the league. I have lived my whole life in Washington, DC and been to the National's stadium several times. While it is a beautiful place, and our previous stadium was somewhat of an embarrassment, I can't shake the feeling that the new stadium lacks the personality and intrigue of the older ballparks.

Is it just me? Am I uncomfortable with change and new places or do other people also think the newer stadiums are sterile and all the same.

My question is, do you believe that these new “high tech” stadiums with fancy food and comfortable seats and more space are the future of baseball? I understand progress but I personally would be very sad if I never got the chance to take my kids to a stadium that was completely unique, a stadium that had mystery. Do you think this is a phase or are we done with ballparks that have quirks and surprises?

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JBK

If you were to design a Roy Halliday-to-the-Dodgers trade that was good for both sides (i.e., gives LA the ace they need for the playoffs but doesn't destroy their young nucleus; helps Toronto for the future), what would it be?

James

Big fan of yours, Buster... read the blog on ESPN.com several times a week. My question is, do you feel that with some of the drug-related stigma around power hitters, and the recent selection of Dustin Pedroia as MVP, that baseball is heading back towards an emphasis on the basics, including speed and defense, and hopefully in the direction of five-tool players rather than guys who rely on the long ball?

Also, do you feel that the game has really been cleaned up with the new rules, or are guys simply being more creative in covering up their cheating?

Oh and just one more... any thoughts on how the upcoming Sportvision camera system will affect stat-keeping and scouting? Thanks!

30somethingsuburbanguy

Buster,

Give me five guys (Two pitchers) who I should consider picking up for my AL/NL fantasy league who might still be available on waivers, or are undervalued.

Thanks.

Jared

In your 18 years of covering baseball, how have you seen your interaction between the players change? Have they become more reluctant to engage with you in the recent years because of the negative publicity steroids has brought baseball?

Cheryl

What do you think of Halladay for A-Rod?

Jerry

Ryan--It's Halladay. Not Holliday.

Buster,

I'm a Pirates fan, which isn't easy.

It's my belief that the only way the Pirates will ever become a consistently good team is if Mark Cuban buys the club. But when Cuban expressed interest in purchasing the Cubs, the league balked and word was he wouldn't be allowed.

My quesions are: (1) What are the chances Cuban buys the Pirates, (2) Would MLB allow him to own a team, and (3) Can MLB really keep somone from owning a team just because they don't like that person or want to compete against him/her.

Thank You,
Jerry
Chicago

Chris

Do you buy the Marlins' justification for constantly trimming payroll? I've heard conflicting things on how much they take in from profit sharing. In a similar vein - any chance they lock up some of these young pitchers? Thanks, Buster!

Greg

Over the last 50 years, football and basketball (and now soccer) have gained popularity relative to baseball in the U.S. Is there anyway for baseball to reverse this trend? Does it even matter, given rising interest in baseball abroad, including Mexico, Central and South America, and Australia? When will we see MLB teams outside of the US/Canada?

Nick

Do you have any suggestions on how to fix the popularity contest that is All-Star and HOF voting?