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REShow: Keith Law - Hour 1 (7-4-2022)

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July 4, 2022 3:08 pm

REShow: Keith Law - Hour 1 (7-4-2022)

The Rich Eisen Show / Rich Eisen

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July 4, 2022 3:08 pm

Brian Webber fills in for Rich.

NBA Free Agency & Trade Talk: Where Will Durant Land--Kyrie To Lakers For Westbrook?

USC & UCLA To Big Ten. What's The Next Domino That's Going To Fall IN CFB?

Keith Law - MLB Writer from The Athletic

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That's 877-ASK-DELL to save up to 48% on our latest technology. Here's Brian Weber. Welcome to the program. Great to be sitting in for Rich on this 4th of July. It is the absolute peak of summer. We're having a great time on an Independence Day. We are live! No best of, we'll do it live. How can I prove to you that we are live? Let's see, I could hold up a newspaper with the date, but we're not on peak. Thankfully, no simulcast, as yours truly limped into the studio. Just call me Joey Sciatico. We'll get there in a second.

Here's how I can demonstrate. I am here for you live on a holiday. I can give you actuality breaking news. In the last 10 minutes at Wimbledon, the bad boy of tennis, Nick Kyrgios, despite a shoulder injury, defeated a very talented young American. Southern California product from San Diego as we enjoy our great relationship with the mightier 1090 in America's finest city, Kyrgios.

Outlasting Nakashima in 5 to move on to the quarterfinals. That's the last time I'll talk about tennis, but just wanted to demonstrate. I'm here for you on a holiday primarily because I love what I do, and I want to avoid my family. If you have a similar mindset, I am open to taking phone calls.

We kept the rundown skinny, unlike your host, hence the back injury. Just a couple guests along the way. So, we can get interactive. If you want to pick up the phone, give me a call on the way to the beach or a barbecue, 1-844-204-RICH, 1-844-204-7424. Candidly, if you've heard me on this program or the other shows that I have an affiliation with now that the fourth version of the Brian Weber show was canceled a year ago, Twitter's always your best bet because, even on a holiday, we have three hours to share together. I have four and a half hours of content, especially all of the NBA chatter going on to cram into our three-hour bag.

So, hit me up on Twitter. That's B.W. Weber, Weber with two B's. Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving going to dominate the program, but I do my best to be transparent with you. I can't do three hours of Kevin Durant, watch, watch, watch, watch, watch.

Plus, I'm back with you on Wednesday, and even I'm not that creative. So, I know what I'm doing on Wednesday, because I don't think anything is going to change with either Durant or Kyrie Irving. NBA is going to drive the program on Wednesday as well. So, we will make sure you are fully covered as to everything going on across the NBA, strong opinions connected to both Durant and Irving, but it is a holiday. I do want to address baseball.

Yes, the grand old game still matters on July 4th. Who says I don't talk baseball? We'll get that done in 40 minutes with Keith Law, always a keen observer. You saw Keith in the past on ESPN. Now he's working for the athletic, and we will get his thoughts as to what's going on across MLB. We'll mix in a little bit of fun with who are the bad boys of sports on this July 4th, because it struck me getting ready for the show last night.

George Steinbrenner, Al Davis, both born on the 4th of July. You have Durant and Kyrie both embracing the role of the villain. Is there a bigger bad guy?

Say hello to my little friend. Bigger bad guy in all of sports than Draymond Green right now. So, we'll get there later in the program, but if you are somebody who has already hit the wall with NBA conversation, I understand I'm not going to be that myopic.

We will make sure we cover other topics without ignoring anything. And yes, I'm well aware of what the seminal on a big word holiday edition of the program sporting event throughout the world is today. The greatness of Joey Chestnut. And if you have not heard, and we'll get to this very important subject in the final hour of the program, Chestnut's going to try to set another hot dog eating record, defend his title and coding on later today on crutches.

He is dealing with a ruptured tendon. Ah, Joey, I feel your pain. And the show within the show, hit me up on Twitter, B.W. Weber, Weber with two B's, because I blame my enthusiasm for this program creating the first health adversity I've had in my entire life.

I'm the luckiest guy in the world beyond having the opportunity to sit in for Rich and try to be as entertaining as Rich, Chris, Mike and TJ. I got a lot of work to do. But I have been so fortunate not to have any health concerns. I came in here on Memorial Day and was so engaged, I decided to stand for three hours. I was a wacky morning DJ. In the process, I think I either blew out my Achilles or tore a glute.

So that was Memorial Day. I have been limping with a sciatica rocking either an ice bag or a heating pad for the better part of a month. And everybody tells me there ain't nothing you can do, Uncle Brian. So if you have any empathy, hit me up on Twitter, B.W.

Weber, Weber with two B's. Do you have a suggestion? Have you dealt with a sciatica? Am I just screwed moving forward? Is my life officially over?

I know to a degree it is. Anything you can do to help me alleviate the pain beyond now my addiction to Ben Gay. That's not cologne I'm wearing.

It is a wonderful, unique scent that I carry around. Okay, let's get to Kevin Durant. Here's how I'm going to divide the monologue. 60-40 Durant versus Kyrie. And some of that is personal bias. I just find Kyrie Irving to be exhausting.

Let me take my own mindset off the table because we're supposed to be objective. And that's Brian Weber in for Rich Eisen. This is an Independence Day edition of the Rich Eisen show.

You can hop aboard at 1844204rich. Twitter's always your best bet. B.W. Weber, Weber with two B's. Let's just view both Durant and Kyrie solely through a basketball prism.

And believe the reports out there. I wish we were on Peacock. I could do a very poor man's version of the performance art that we saw from Brian Windhorst the other day on ESPN. Hand that guy an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy.

He was singing. He's an EGOT. As he was foreshadowing whatever is going on in Utah. But credit Danny Age for getting that haul in return for Rudy Gobert.

Masterful job. But if we're just talking basketball impact and you believe that Kyrie Irving will force his way out of Brooklyn. And now let's see. He bolted on the Cavs. He bolted on the Celtics. He's bolting on the Nets. But because it's the NBA, it's beyond even a star driven league.

It's a star controlled league. And I have no problem with that. You've heard me before and I think that the older I get, maybe I just want to be more authentic. And I'm not worried about getting pushed back on Twitter or a corporate suit saying, what's this guy's ideology? We live in a world increasingly dominated by greed. And since I've not had an opportunity to discuss what's going on in college football with the abject greed of USC. UCLA can understand they need the money. I went to USC.

I'm a USC alum. We'll talk about just how much cash they're awash in. Yet they're going to the Big Ten to get more. We live in a world in which we all now have put aside even the pretense of believing in taking care of each other. And I'm not going to get too deep as a filling guy on July 4th. But if the goal now is to get as much as you can as frequently as you can, if you have a private jet, get two. You see how the top 1% have done since the pandemic?

Must be nice to be that rich. So I have no issue with NBA players wanting to control their future. Because without the players, you don't have a league.

And I understand we have an emotional connection to these guys because we love sports so much. It's different than an actor. Because I don't know about you, the last time I got on stage to try to be a Thespian was probably the 8th grade in a bad rendition of Bye Bye Birdie.

We appreciate Tom Cruise, but we don't think we have anything in common with him. Unlike sports, because we all hung on as long as we could until finally, for me, it was freshman year of high school. One of the coaches tapped me on the shoulder and said, hey kid, you're not going to make the team. That was it. And I figured out to get any affiliation with sports.

I'd better find a way to yell into a microphone, try not to stand for 3 hours to blow out my glutes. So I have no issue with Kyrie Irving wanting to control his future. Same thing for Kevin Durant.

But I can be critical of the consequences. And if you're betting on Kyrie, what are you getting? Your best ability, and I say this as a fill-in host on a holiday and I hope to talk to you on Thanksgiving and maybe Labor Day in the interim.

Your best ability is availability. Remember when Kevin Durant got a bit peeved by the headline with the newspaper in Oklahoma City calling him Mr. Unreliable and that was a basketball context.

Well, if we're just talking about unreliability, who is more unreliable than Kyrie Irving? But if you believe, magically, it's all going to change if he forces his way out of Brooklyn and lands with the Lakers, my pushback is this. Is LeBron going to jump in the hot tub time machine? Maybe he'll use another Space Jam sequel to reinvent himself. There'll be an animated version of LeBron. One that's younger, one that hasn't played all of those minutes after all of those trips to the NBA Finals.

Plus, playing for his nation in international competition. Is magically the health concerns of street clothes Anthony Davis, is that fundamental liability going to be rectified once Kyrie Irving shows up on the scene in Southern California? I know he's got mystical powers.

Just ask him because you and I are ordinary. Remember that tweet? He's a creative thinker and those folks are going to change the world. Well, maybe he can come to downtown LA and put his healing powers at the very fingertips as he extends his arm and give some sort of healing touch to Anthony Davis.

But you get my point. So Kyrie to the Lakers, while it's certainly an upgrade, just to get rid of Russell Westbrook, who I can't defend on any level other than he shows up. However you view Russ and the numbers tell the story, beyond that, if we were on the Peacock simulcast, Q up all of the shots that are injuring spectators court side as Russ just couldn't buy a bucket and couldn't find his range far too many times, embarrassing himself on his way to the Hall of Fame. Let's not forget he did average a triple double in Oklahoma City. But if you can unload Russell Westbrook, whatever you get in return is beneficial and better than the disaster that Russ was. But it still doesn't address the other core issues that the Lakers are going to labor with moving forward, nor does it rectify the unpredictability. I'll be kind on a holiday.

How about flakiness of Kyrie Irving? So I'm here in Southern California as we come to you from a Regal Studios in Los Angeles. Of course, the Laker flags are back. Forget about the fact that they didn't sniff the playoffs.

But here in LA, the moment the Lakers have the possibility of good news, driving to work even on a holiday, those flags were flying across the 405. But I'll throw it out to you on Twitter. B.W.

Weber, Weber with two B's. Kyrie for Russ straight up, it's not going to be that way. There's got to be other consideration, especially if you're the Lakers, you need more. And not to get bogged down with all of the minutia of salary cap situations and expiring contracts. But the Nets obviously want to do whatever they can to try to clean up what is a disaster in Brooklyn.

They want to throw in Joe Harris as well because they want to get them off the books. But let's just say for the sake of a fantasy basketball conversation, Kyrie for Russ straight up, what does that get you in the West? And I won't put Durant on the Warriors just yet.

We'll get there in a minute. Let's say Durant goes to Miami. I'll take him out of the mix in the Western Conference. Well, you still have the Warriors who don't have to give up any of the assets that Brooklyn would be looking for for a Durant trade. I'm talking about Jordan Poole, Andre Wiggins, Camingo Wiseman. You still have Phoenix. I know they're going to unload DeAndre Ayton, but you got Booker, you got Bridges and you got a semblance of CP3. How about the Clippers?

Now, I realize I don't want to contradict myself more than I already have in the first 13 minutes of the program. Kawhi Leonard certainly is not Mr. Reliable, but you throw out the notion that would load management. Perhaps you can count on him come playoff time coupled with Paul George. I think the John Wall addition while on the margins will help this team.

So that's another club you got to think about in the West. Memphis impressed all of us unless you were paying attention in the regular season and noted how well they played even when John Durant was injured. But don't overlook the fact that Jaron Jackson's banged up. He's going to miss four to six months with the foot injury. And if Denver can ever stay healthy, you got Joker plus Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray, the depth in the West doesn't change. The Lakers certainly are better, but I'm not crowning anybody who plays in downtown Los Angeles with the addition of Kyrie Irving. And then what do we do with Durant?

And isn't it just miraculous? Enjoying a nice holiday weekend. I knew Durant was going to be the focus. I did not think I'd be talking about the return potentially. And it's Brian Weber in for Rich Oz and we're live on this July 4th edition of the program.

You can slide in at 1844204rich or hit me up on Twitter. Let's BW Weber Weber with two B's. I did not think we'd be talking about Durant to the Warriors. Now it makes sense with an objective assessment, but we're not talking about the old trade machine where you throw in names and see if it works as you fire up Google. It does have a great degree of logic because here's why the Warriors are so scary moving forward.

They have all of these young players plus draft capital as assets. And you saw in the postseason with Klay Thompson still not 100% you could argue that Andrew Wiggins was the second most important player beyond Steph Curry. And how about the contributions of Jordan Poole? I know he was up and down to an extent, but he had some critical buckets, especially ones that had added impact with the buzzer beaters towards the end of a quarter.

You throw in the athletic ability of Kuminga and Weissman is the unicorn. We don't know what he is because he played so briefly in college and hasn't had real minutes in the NBA. But with the Warriors depth, if you're just talking best fit, certainly Brooklyn would love to engage the Warriors. But this is not fantasy basketball.

We're talking about real people with real emotions. And let's just back up from a standpoint of even if Durant was open, and remember, he theoretically does not get input. He's under contract for the next four years, but it's the NBA where stars always get their way. But let's say Durant was cool with it and realized he never should have left the Warriors. Does anybody want to see Kevin Durant back on the Warriors? And I spent a long time in the San Francisco Bay Area, nine years on and off as a Warriors sideline reporter on TV, pre- and post-game host.

I know that fan base, I think, fairly well, although I've defected to Southern California. Warrior fans don't want Kevin Durant back. They love the fact they finally won without him. Nobody in the league wants to see Durant on the Warriors because that means not one, not two, not three. What was Draymond saying the other day on his podcast? With this current roster, they can win three or four more titles, and I don't think he's being over the top.

So I'll throw it out to you. Would you want to see Durant back on the Warriors, 1-8-4-4, 2-0-4, Rich? I don't think it's going to happen. And as the program continues, and I promise I'm not doing three hours of NBA, but we'll tip off hour number two getting back to the NBA. I think it's much more likely that Durant winds up either in Phoenix or Miami. So we'll play the what-if game. What if Kevin Durant is either a member of the Suns or the Heat?

How much does that really change things across the balance of power in the NBA, and aren't the Warriors still the team to beat? All right, I am feeling like I'm not at 100% because I'm not standing today. Can I battle through the sciatica pain?

Will it help me enunciate as I'm hunched over with a throbbing leg? Yes. Just getting warmed up, a ton to get to here in hour number one of the program. Twenty minutes from now, baseball on July 4th.

It is a tradition, and I believe in America, so we'll talk about MLB with Keith Law from the Athletics. Straight ahead, I just have to squeeze in a little bit of college football because I did not have a chance to address this last week. If you follow me on Twitter, you'll see there's no bigger Pac-12 hunk than yours truly. One of the schools I attended was USC, and they're betraying my conference.

So, with USC and UCLA on their way to the Big Ten, what's the next domino to fall? Just getting warmed up on a jam-packed holiday edition of the program. We're live on this Independence Day. I'm Brian Weber in for Rich.

It's the Rich Eisenhower. Does your antiperspirant keep you dry all day? Dove Men PlusCare Dry Spray goes on instantly dry for a cleaner feel and offers 48 hours sweat and odor protection.

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Brian Weber back with you. In for Rich. It's the Rich Eisen Show, keeping you company live on this Independence Day. You can be a part of the program. Phone call is taken selectively.

1-844-204-RICH. But since we designed the rundown to be interactive with just two guests along the way and our first conversation comes up in 15 minutes. We talk baseball with Keith Law of the Athletic. I do have more time to get interactive, yet I am a realist. As a veteran of working holidays, I do think some of you might have other interests other than sports talk radio, which I find to be just a sad commentary on our lives. Look, I don't ask much of you, but you're going to have to make a decision.

Either spending time with family, friends and loved ones or listening to a self-involved stranger on the radio. You're going to have to make that call. We will get into the college football momentarily.

Back to the NBA to start our number two of the program. Going to talk a little golf later on. What if the live golf tour held an event in the United States and seemingly nobody cared? Did you even know the stars of the Saudi Arabian tour competed over the weekend in Portland? Probably not because it wasn't on real TV.

They didn't play on Sunday. So we'll talk about what's going on with this quote-unquote rival circuit and get an update on Tiger Woods. Because if you've not been tracking, Tiger is rehabbing on pace to compete in the, don't call the British Open, the Open Championship next week as we get to the final major of the year. Looking forward to our conversation with the noted golf author, Robert Lucetta.

She wrote a terrific biography of Tiger. Please indulge a few minutes on college football. I'll keep it concise and then we'll get to the baseball with Keith Law with the NBA dominating the rest of the conversation moving forward. If you follow me on Twitter and if you don't, what's holding you back? B.W.

Weber, Weber with two B's. I was proud of my academic achievements as a young person, primarily because I had no life. And I'm not bashing the kids of today. The reason that I knew so much trivial nonsense comes down to I didn't have much of a social life. Plus circa 1985, there was not much to do. I remember we got cable TV in 1983 and it changed my life. Wait a minute, you're telling me, growing up in the suburbs of New York City, I don't have to just flip back and forth between the Brady Bunch reruns on Channel 5 and the Three Stooges on Channel 9 and a Humphrey Bogart movie on Channel 11.

I get 25 more channels. So I came from an era in which there was a reward placed on appreciating history. One of the reasons I got a job when I was 21 doing TV in San Francisco, I looked 13, I sounded 9. But my back was limber. Those were better days.

I mentioned sciatica. It is real. Give me a call.

844-204-RICH. So by that long-winded introduction, I appreciate sports history. It's one of the primary reasons why I wanted to do this for a living because that was my competitive advantage.

1922, let's go through the RBI leaders. People thought that was impressive when I was getting started in broadcasting and then that knowledge got replaced by your phone. Beyond that, I'm a proud graduate of Stanford University. Yes, I've squandered that education to talk to you on a holiday. And I went to graduate school at USC.

I'm not reading you my resume to be even more egotistical than normal. I'm just telling you, there's nobody who is more deeply connected to the Pac-12 as a broadcaster, I think, than yours truly. I've worked for the Pac-12 network for nine years. Hope that we have a future together down the road. So when I heard the news the other day that USC, let's forget about UCLA.

They are the companion. And UCLA needs the money. Public university, phenomenal school. But with the pressure they felt to keep up with the arms race for facilities to make sure that recruits wanted to go to Westwood, there are about 75 million bucks in the hole, all told.

And a lot of that was pre-COVID. So you factor in the revenue implications of no fans at the Rose Bowl, which they don't draw well anyway. UCLA needs the money. I fully understand their motivation. USC does not.

This is pure greed. And they had a path to the playoff even if they stayed in the Pac-12. Now with Lincoln Riley, who is going to change everything, correct?

That's why he's making more money than God. Plus, the transfer portal effectively has led to free agency in college football. And USC is going to be radically different on the field with the play calling of Lincoln Riley and the upgrade in talent. You've been tracking all the big names that have decided to come to USC and a handful of key contributors in Oklahoma who now want to play for Lincoln in Southern California. So USC did not have to do this. This is pure greed. But I can't single them out because college football has sold its soul for the dollar.

And you can't tell me that I'm being over the top or hyperbolic or emotional because the facts speak for themselves. College football has sold out several components that made it unique, namely tradition, rivalries that spanned decades, and a consistent, reliable game day experience. What if you devoted most of your Saturdays in the fall to tailgating? And I know a lot of people across the country do, especially in the South here on the West Coast. As mentioned, I'm from New York. College football was not that big in my developmental years. When I came to the West Coast, it was eye opening. What a great game day experience a Saturday in the fall can be.

All right, but you make plans with your friends and then guess what? Your game now is a big noon kickoff on Fox or your game now is a 730 p.m. local time kickoff just for TV dollars. So we knew the sport had already evolved in a way that was destroying so many of the elements that made it unique. And then when we got to the era of let's not call it realignment, let's tell it as it is.

Consolidation. Once ESPN engineered the defection of Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC, everything changed. And I can't fault the Big Ten for trying to keep up with the other superpower.

But effectively, in a couple of years, when the L.A. schools come to the Big Ten and the Big Ten's not done, and the most logical extension would be pickup Oregon and Washington. Let me give you the disclaimer. I'm speaking for myself. These are personal opinions and not reflecting the views of everybody I work for.

OK, just to get the legalese out of the way. I don't need a blogger saying Pac-12 network announcer says Oregon's next, but just connect the dots. Oregon and Washington make so much sense because you could cut down on travel. The L.A. schools have a couple more West Coast opponents because that's the unspoken part of all this. I know the money is overwhelming and it's all about football. But remember, L.A. schools now are going to export their Olympic sports. And most of you don't track anything but football and basketball. But for example, UCLA gymnastics is phenomenal. They draw 12,000 people at Pauley Pavilion, a roster loaded with Olympic stars.

Well, how would you like to be a UCLA gymnast? And now, instead of going to Arizona State, our long trip, you're going to fly to Ann Arbor, Michigan. Or pick any other team.

But I get it. It's all about the dollars. And what's next? My beloved Pac-12 network is in trouble. We know that the media cycle is going to lead to a new TV deal within the Conference of Champions in two years. I'm more concerned about the future of the conference itself. Look, I'm a hustler.

I'll always find a place to shout into a microphone. But you strip out the L.A. schools. A reminder, USC has been a part of the Pac-12. Not the original name, obviously. The Conference of Champions for a century. And they're throwing that away to make even more money. So what happens to the Pac-12?

I don't know. San Diego State, Fresno State, Boise State, UNLV all make sense. Why wouldn't the Big 12 come calling and try to poach the Arizona schools?

Colorado, Utah makes a great deal of sense from a geographic standpoint. So we have moved in the span of months from the Power 5 to now the Big 2 and everybody else. It's going to be the SEC and the Big 10 running this sport.

If they want to put on their own playoff, what's to stop them? And the white whale out there remains mighty Notre Dame. What happens to Notre Dame?

I won't bog you down in too many contractual details on a holiday. But the ACC apparently has an ironclad deal with ESPN that runs well into the next decade. Notre Dame has the loose affiliation with the ACC.

That's where their Olympic sports compete in. And you know they have the rotation of ACC schools. But Notre Dame has had a license to print money as an independent going all the way back to the deal they struck with NBC in the late 1980s. What is Notre Dame going to do?

Are they going to give up their autonomy and all the money that comes with it for the opportunity to make even more dough? Big 10 just makes too much sense to me for Notre Dame to try to continue to go on their own. You know they already play Michigan, Michigan State.

They're right there in the middle of the country. But that's the last domino to fall. We can talk about Clemson, Florida State, Miami, other programs, certainly with a great pedigree. And obviously Clemson has come alive in recent years. But the name to track moving forward is Notre Dame. But if you have any doubts as to how to clarify the situation, just follow the money.

Back to the great line from the terrific screenwriter William Goldman and all the presidents men. If there's ever any area that you can't figure out what the logical next step is going to be in a business related setting, just follow the money and think about, as we wrap it up here, the landscape of college football. Twelve regular season games now, plus a conference title game, plus two playoff games with a playoff expansion coming.

I'm not good with math, but aren't we already at 14 games going to 15 or 16? Isn't that essentially professional football? And I know NIL's changed everything, but you're still telling me these student athletes can't get paid? The hypocrisy is appalling. And at this point, it's every person for themselves, every program for themselves.

And I think the kids, because I'm 50, if you're 18, you're a kid. From my point of view, the kids should be lining up next and that's coming. But we'll save that for when I'm back on Labor Day, getting you set for the start of college football. We'll get back to the NBA to start the second hour of the program. What's the most logical landing spot for Kevin Durant? If Kyrie comes to the Lakers, how much of a difference would that make?

Where would you slot L.A. in the balance of power in the West? Straight ahead though, we'll talk some baseball. Amazingly, it's July 4th.

Sing it with me, I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy. The Yankees aren't playing today. How does baseball get every important thing wrong? But I will not get too focused on that bizarre scheduling aberration. We'll talk about what's been clicking in the Bronx.

Can anything derail the mighty Yankees? Looking forward to our conversation with Keith Law, the baseball writer, analyst for the athletic, author of the terrific book, The Inside Game. I'm Brian Weber, having a great time with you. We're live on the 4th of July in for Rich. It's the Rich Eisen Show. I'm Brian Weber in for Rich Eisen.

We're live on the 4th of July. It's the Rich Eisen Show. 1-8-4-4-2-0-4 Rich is the number to call. 1-8-4-4-2-0-4-7-4-2-4.

Conversation never stops on Twitter. That's B.W. Weber. Weber with two B's.

Baseball always identified with the 4th of July. And I'm pleased to be joined by Keith Law. I've enjoyed Keith's work for many years. It's the first time I saw him on ESPN. You can now follow Keith with his outstanding work on

He's also the author of the book, The Inside Game. Keith, I appreciate you taking the time on a holiday. How are you? I'm good, thanks. How are you?

I'm doing well. Well, let's start with the Yankees. Off to a strong start, and this looks like a complete team. But you know better than I do, there are no perfect clubs in baseball, even with a gargantuan payroll. So if you survey things from a big-picture, macro perspective, are there any flaws when you look at the Yankees?

Is there a weakness or two that stands out? They're the best team in baseball. They're pretty much doing everything right. They're getting on base. They're leading the majors in home runs. Their pitching staff has been extremely good. Particularly not walking guys, which I know sounds kind of simple, but it's pretty hard to do at this point, with hitters tending to look more for walks, I think, than they ever have in history. If there's a flaw in this Yankees team, I could see a few spots in the lineup where they could stand an upgrade. They chose to go into the season. They avoided all the big free-agent shortstops. Traded for Isaiah kind of for Lefa to be their primary shortstop. And as expected, they're getting basically nothing out of him at this point. And that's one spot where they could potentially upgrade. I know Jose Trevino has been really good for them in a month or maybe about two months or so behind the plate.

I like Jose Trevino. I don't think that's that likely to last either. It's another position where they could try to upgrade. They're also 13 games up. They could just say, we're not doing anything. We're just going to roll into the postseason with what we have.

And I think they'd probably be fine. And Aaron Judge, a big reason why the Yankees have that big lead within the division. Keith, we know the history of big spending in the Bronx. So when the Yankees did not meet the deadline imposed by Judge to come up with a new deal, prior to the start of the season, some observers were surprised.

Moving forward, you do a great job of providing context. Does Judge's massive stature, I can't recall many players 6'7 with his success in the history of baseball, does that create some inherent risk for whoever signs him to the next deal? We know he's going to get paid, but what about the possibility of him physically breaking down moving forward? The history of players his size, 6'7 or taller, position players that is, playing well into their 30s is basically non-existent. I think the best example we've ever had is Frank Howard.

This is going back to the late 60s, early 70s. And his last good season was probably age 34. And that's it. That's the best example we've got. There have only been about a dozen or so players this tall who've even played more than a season in the majors. And they don't last. And the biggest problem they have is they break down physically. And the second problem is if you lose any bat speed at all as you get into your 30s, which of course most players do at some point, sometimes it's early 30s, sometimes it's late 30s, but these are guys who already have larger strike zones, right?

They are at an immediate disadvantage. If you lose a little bit of bat speed, suddenly your play coverage goes down. And for guys like Judge who already strikes out a lot, he's valuable because he does all these other things, that could take him from a superstar to just kind of an ordinary player offensively. And that's not what he's going to get paid to be.

He's going to get paid to be a superstar. Talking baseball with Keith Law. Check out his great work at The Athletic.

Pick up his book, The Inside Game. I'm Brian Weber in for Rich Eisen. Let's jump over to the National League and the reigning champs in Atlanta. Keith, how do you think the Braves have been able to maintain that success, even after parting company with Freddie Freeman? And we can put the kerfuffle over his former agents aside. Just talk baseball today.

Yeah, let's definitely just talk baseball instead. They've done a lot of little things right. Picking up Matt Olson in that very big trade, they sent a lot of prospect value back to Oakland in that deal. But Olson has filled in pretty well.

He hasn't completely replaced what they lost in Freeman, but he's been pretty valuable. Max Freed has continued to pitch like a Cy Young contender. The emergence of Kyle Wright this year is probably the biggest story, at least for me, on the Atlanta roster, where he lowered his arm slot, changed his pitch mix, got rid of the slider, which was his out pitch going back to when he was at Vanderbilt, to switch to a curveball instead. He's also throwing a little bit harder. The lower arm slot means there's a little more movement on the fastball.

He's a completely different guy. For a long time, Atlanta had this big group of prospect arms. We were waiting for just any of them to take the big step forward. They just let one of them go, 2-p-2 Saint, went to the Angels in a minor trade. Kyle Wright seems to be the one taking the big step forward this year. So you've got two really strong pitchers at the top of the rotation. The offense is leading the NL in home runs. That's a pretty good formula for success. Keith Law is our guest, talking baseball on the Rich Eisen Show.

Keith, I'm based in Southern California. It's not like the old days where you had to live locally to see a player on TV, all the games available on your phone. I'm just astonished every time I watch Showy Otani. Like you, I appreciate baseball history, but I'd love your perspective. Has Otani already established himself as one of the most unique players in the history of the game? I think baseball history is a little bit not my strength.

It's probably not my greatest strength. But I will say, I can't think of a good comparison. People go back to the talk about Babe Ruth, for example. Babe Ruth, that's just not the same game that we're playing today, right?

He played against only white players. Nobody was throwing as hard at the time. For Otani to be able to pitch like he's pitching, and he's not just throwing hard, he's having tremendous success on the mound because he can really pitch. And be a good enough overall hitter, despite the fact he's always going to have some swing and miss. The way he swings is just going to lead to some strikeouts. But that he's doing so much else at the plate at the same time, I think you could make a pretty good argument.

That's the most unique talent we've ever seen. And if he continues to do this for a few more years, we are suddenly going to be talking about him in the inner circle of all-time great players. But despite his amazing skill sets and his versatility, it looks like another lost season for the Angels, already firing Joe Maddon.

Keith, they struck out 48 times in three games being swept by the Astros. So we've had all the talk that Mike Trout effectively should have been, or could maybe still be, the Mickey Mantle of his generation individually. But are the Angels squandering his prime? No, it's like the Ernie Banks of his generation.

Great call, great call. It's funny, too, that you have Mike Trout, Yashoyo Tani, two of the best players in baseball, and can't even get to the postseason. For years, we've been saying, it's the pitching, it's the pitching, they don't have enough pitching. It's actually not the problem this year.

Pariman Asean, the relatively new GM for the Angels, has managed to cobble together a pretty good starting rotation for them. The problem is the offense. The offense stinks outside of those two guys and Taylor Ward, the completely out-of-nowhere breakout guy for them in the outfield, their offense is pretty terrible. Particularly, they're just not getting anyone on base. When you've got two guys in the middle of the lineup hitting for a lot of power, its impact is muted when there are so infrequently runners on base for them to knock in. I think this is the Angels' fundamental problem for the last 10 years. They haven't developed much of their own talent at all. For a while, we were all focused on the lack of pitching, but it was kind of the lack of everything and the fact they're not generating even their own position player prospect is also hurting them at this point. It's putting them in a really tough position as Trout himself gets into his 30s and starts to show a little bit of a propensity maybe for injury. Is he exiting his prime?

Have they wasted, already past 10s, wasted his best years? Keith, I really appreciate the analysis. Thanks so much for taking the time on a holiday.

I'll be filling in for Rich a few more times throughout the summer. I hope we can chat again in the future. My pleasure. I very much look forward to that. Terrific. Happy July 4th and we look forward to a future conversation. Thanks, Keith. Thank you. Keith Law, you have seen him in the past on ESPN.

You can currently read him on Check out the book, it's terrific, The Inside Game. That was a terrific, I keep using the word terrific, but that was a wonderful comp because I've always said, just in terms of the raw talent and all of the things that Mike Trout can do. Find me the weakness, Mickey Mantle comes to mind, but based on a lack of playoff success, Ernie Banks is the cop. Going back, kids, there used to be a day when the Giants win the pennant, the Giants win the pennant, one team came out of the National League and one team came out of the American League and they played in October.

It was called the Fall Classic. Now, even with the expanded playoff field, Angels aren't sniffing a wild card. And how many times have you seen Mike Trout in a big spot in a playoff game? Not too frequently because the Angels have been atrocious for way too long and they can gimmick up their name, no, no, Anaheim, we're in L.A. via Rancho Cucamonga.

They're still largely irrelevant here in Southern California. Nationally, no one is talking about this team. And Keith, I thought, offered great context. You have this phenomenal anomaly of a player in Otani, a transcendent talent in Trout, and the entire franchise remains irrelevant. Who says I don't talk baseball?

Keith was terrific. We will get to a little bit more baseball later in the program because I cannot go division by division, breaking down teams. I cannot look forward to the trade deadline.

But I can talk about what's going on from a bigger perspective. And Commissioner Rob Manfred, for all of his flaws, I think he's an empty suit. But at last he's using some common sense. Last week, coming out in favor of electronic balls and strikes. I know you're going to complain, well, what about the human element? Let's just get it right. Let's get Angel Hernandez off a diamond and specifically away from the plate. Baseball needs to be open to radical change. Pitch clock. Let's do it. The shift is going to be limited next year. Fine. I thought the Universal DH was supposed to help the game.

I have no life. I was looking at batting averages across the league, still abysmal. And that's all about analytics because the game is fundamentally different.

Data-driven analysis. The computers took over and said, swing for the fences. Put the ball in the air.

Better outcomes based on an algorithm. So what do we have now? Home runs, fly balls and strikeouts. And that's it. That's not baseball.

That's softball. One hour down. Couple more hours on the way. Next hour of the program. Did you even realize the live golf tour was playing in the United States in Portland over the weekend?

We will hit the links with my good friend, Robert Lucenich, the outstanding golf author. Up next, though, back to the NBA to tip off the second hour of the show. Let's say Durant doesn't go to the Warriors. Nobody wants to see that.

If he goes to Miami, how's that going to shake things up across the NBA? I'm Brian Weber having a great time with you. Live on the Fourth of July in for Rich. It's the Rich Isonship. We'll be right back.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-05 01:35:38 / 2023-02-05 01:54:22 / 19

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