Hot topics at NMH ‘Hot Stove’ baseball forum

  • ESPN’s Buster Olney, center, talks to the audience during Friday’s Hot Stove Night baseball discussion at Northfield Mount Hermon School. Olney is flanked by Jay Drake, left, reporter and producer for Major League Baseball Advanced Media Sarah Langs, right, and Los Angeles Dodgers director of player personnel Galen Carr, far right. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Los Angeles Dodgers director of player personnel and 1993 Northfield Mount Hermon School graduate Galen Carr speaks during the school’s Hot Stove Night on Friday at the Rhodes Arts Center. At left is Sarah Langs, reporter and producer for Major League Baseball Advanced Media. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • Panelists Buster Olney, Sarah Langs and Galen Carr speak to the crowd during the annual Hot Stove Night baseball discussion at Northfield Mount Hermon School, Friday at the Rhodes Arts Center. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • ESPN’s Buster Olney, white shirt, talks to the audience during Friday’s Hot Stove Night discussion. Olney is flanked by Jay Drake, left, Sarah Langs, reporter and producer for MLB Advanced Media, right, and Los Angeles Dodgers director of player personnel Galen Carr, far right.

  • Los Angeles Dodgers director of player personnel Galen Carr answers a question during Friday’s Hot Stove Night baseball discussion at Northfield Mount Hermon School’s Rhodes Arts Center in Gill. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 1/24/2020 10:45:15 PM
Modified: 1/24/2020 10:45:02 PM

GILL — It took but a matter of minutes into Friday night’s annual Dick Peller Hot Stove Night on the campus of Northfield Mount Hermon School for discussion to circle around toward the pressing matters of Major League Baseball in 2020.

“Who’s going to manage the Red Sox?” rang the very first question of the night from someone in the crowd at Heffernon Hall at the Rhodes Arts Center.

It was certainly not a surprise to the 50 or so baseball fans in attendance at the annual event that a large portion of the discussion would be centered around the cheating and sign stealing scandal that has developed America’s pastime in recent weeks.

ESPN’s Buster Olney, a 1982 NMH graduate, returned to his alma mater for a panel discussion on Friday night. The veteran reporter pulled no punches in handling a smattering of questions from the crowd about the Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox and their current undesirable predicaments. Joined by Los Angeles Dodgers director of player personnel and 1993 NMH graduate Galen Carr, as well as Sarah Langs, reporter and producer for Major League Baseball Advanced Media, Olney chaired a discussion that touched on a number of topics in the sport. Cheating was at the center of the matter, however.

“It really jumped out to me how confident the Red Sox are that there’s not going to be anything coming down the pipe at them,” began Olney of the team’s response to the scandal that cost manager Alex Cora his job.

Olney mentioned current Red Sox bench coach Ron Roenicke as a very strong possibility to be the club’s next skipper. When asked about the prospect of former Sox catcher Jason Varitek earning the gig, Olney was less optimistic.

“Part of me would be surprised,” the ESPN scribe said of a match between the two sides.

Olney said the fallout from the scandal will certainly carry into the upcoming season. He mentioned that Astros players are starting to realize the backlash they’ll be facing on the road for away games.

“They are going to get absolutely obliterated by opposing fans,” Olney offered, mentioning several current pitchers who have hinted they’d likely be targeting batters during games as retaliation.

For his part, Carr remained relatively tight-lipped on the dilemma. As an employee of the Dodgers, he’s found himself in a predicament that both teams implicated in the scandal recently defeated his club in back-to-back World Series. Houston captured the 2017 title with a win over Los Angeles, and Boston claimed the trophy at their expense in 2018.

“Without getting into specifics, it’s disappointing,” Carr said when asked of the situation. “The dent that it’s put in the trust of people and organizations...”

Conversation eventually moved to more positive aspects of the sport, including the upcoming 2020 campaign.

“It’s going to be such a fascinating year for transactions,” began Olney, referring to the potential trades of players like Mookie Betts, Francisco Lindor and Nolan Arenado. Olney believes it’s only a matter of time before Betts gets dealt, sometime before the July 31 deadline later this season.

As for World Series predictions? Langs echoed the sentiments of most people in the room.

“It’s so hard to pick a team that isn’t the Yankees,” she said. “A Yankees-Dodgers World Series would be so fun.”

That would be fine with Carr, who worked his way up the Red Sox organization under Theo Epstein before joining the Dodgers at the end of 2014. He also thinks the Yankees are the team to beat in the American League after adding ace Gerrit Cole during the offseason.

“On paper, the Yankees are as good as any team since those late ’90s Yankees teams,” Olney chimed in.

The night ended with topics like the future of baseball in Baltimore, and the diminishing value of defensive catchers. As for the recent Baseball Hall of Fame vote that saw Derek Jeter fall one vote shy of a unanimous selection, Olney said he gave up his vote several years ago but believes in transparency. He expects former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling to earn a Hall of Fame selection next year.

Former NMH star Oliver Drake, who currently pitches for the Tampa Bay Rays, was well represented during Friday night’s discussion. Drake’s father, Jay, jumped on stage to sit in as the fourth member of the panel alongside Olney, offering stories from Drake’s postseason run last fall.

The Hot Stove Night is named for Dick Peller, a retired NMH math teacher and athletics coach who started the event in 2004.




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