Denny Matthews: Thanks for joining me today. Let's get started.
labsorhors: Denny, thanks again for coming back for another year with the Royals. Given your experience, any personal preferences on the use of pitch counts?
Matthews: Regarding pitch counts, there is good and bad for me. Maybe there is too much emphasis on pitch counts now. At times it is good and at times it is overdone. You have to be smart with it. Experience, age, medical history all goes into it. You have to take each guy individually and make your decision.
kcking2: It's an honor to chat with you Mr. Matthews and congratulations on the Hall of Fame induction. I was wondering if you had any predictions for the Royals this year and if/how much they're improved over last year.
Matthews: Well it seems to me that the team has improved, and especially offensively. The lineup is balanced better. It is a better balance of power and speed, so it is a more versatile lineup. Trey [Hillman] has more options with the way the lineup is configured. And I don't make predictions because I don't know, nobody does.
theapes: Denny, do use a special scorebook that shows a visual representation of the fielders or something you developed yourself?
Matthews: I've got my own special score sheet which I've used since I've started. There is a space on that score sheet where you can configure the defense. You can make a defensive chart on the sheet itself. I didn't develop it myself, there was an ad in the Sporting News on score sheets and I borrowed it from that.
labsorhors: During one of your Spring Training game broadcasts, you discussed a fake bunt attempt that turned into a home run. Who did that again and do you remember roughly when that was?
Matthews: The player was David Eckstein. He was with the Cardinals at the time and I think it was either two or three years ago. It happened in Washington against the Nationals.
kbrxsports: Mr. Matthews it is truly an honor. My youngest son is named after you. I am coming up in sports radio, and if you could give an up-and-coming play-by-play guy advice, what would it be?
Matthews: There are two or three things. Play sports, play the games. It doesn't matter at what level -- at a vacant lot with a bunch of other kids, you are still playing the game and getting a feel for it. Take a tape recorder to a game. Doesn't matter which sport -- high school, college doesn't matter. And do the game [how] you would like to do it. Don't try to copy someone else. Thanks for naming your son after me, but I'm curious as to what his name is.
kcking2: What are the biggest changes to professional baseball you've seen in your 41 years that you think has affected the game most?
Matthews: That is pretty easy. It is the way pitchers are used now and a smaller strike zone.
labsorhors: In your opinion, who has been the fastest Royal from first to third or second to home?
Matthews: That is easy: Willie Wilson. There is no comparison really.
kbrxsports: I have listened to you and Fred [White] for many years, and one of my favorite things about you guys was telling it how it was, never seeming to be biased in anyway, but yet making a listener feel like they were a part of the team.
Matthews: Our primary job is to obviously paint the picture of that is going on and to be as accurate as possible. By that I mean you can't be what I would call a 'one-way broadcaster'. There are two teams on the field, so I think you have to present a balanced picture of bad plays and good plays and then [explain] why it was a bad play or a good play. There are two factors that go into every broadcast -- how each team is playing, then summarizing the game, pointing out the pluses and minuses and why the outcome ended up as it did.
hornetpal: What did you learn from Buddy Blattner's broadcasting style?
Matthews: This gets back to when we were talking earlier about advice to a young guy which Buddy gave to a young guy when I started. He was very stern about this, he said, "Don't think you have to do the game the same way I'm doing it. Don't try to imitate an announcer that you have heard or you like, because all you'll be doing is a bad imitation of that announcer. Develop your own style and broadcast the game the way you want to broadcast the game." I thought that was great advice. His style was very informal and he was very conversational in his broadcasting. It was like he was talking to one other person.
jsheat: What do you think about the development of Zack Greinke?
Matthews: Zack is certainly much more mature than he was 18 months ago in all ways, and he is still in the learning process. By that I mean using his pluses to attack the hitters, minuses, putting a sequence of pitches together. In other words -- one pitch to a hitter leads to another pitch to a hitter which leads to another pitch and the fourth or fifth pitch is designed to get that hitter out.
gerlach: Denny, have you had a chance to take a look at the new "K" and the Crown? If so, how do the renovations look in person?
Matthews: I have not seen it yet. I haven't been out to the stadium since October of last year. I will know more and render an opinion on Friday. I think it will be really nice.
44royals: Besides "The K," what is your personal favorite ballpark to call a game from and why?
Matthews: I think Wrigley Field, because when I was young, I saw a lot of games there. It's the only historic ballpark, besides Fenway, that is left.
kcking2: Denny, let's get it out of the way -- best hitter and best pitcher you've seen in your time as an announcer?
Matthews: I'm obviously a little biased, but George Brett would be the best hitter and maybe the best pitcher that I saw in his prime would be Jim Palmer. The best pitcher I ever saw, period, before I was broadcasting, was Sandy Koufax.
lherzog: Denny, you have seen a lot of Royals players through your career. Which one has been your favorite to watch on the playing field?
Matthews: I've often said if I went to the ballpark and could watch George Brett get five at-bats, Frank White field four or five ground balls and turn a couple double plays, watch Willie Wilson hit a triple to the right-field corner and go from home to third at warp speed, watch Dennis Leonard start the game and either Dan Quisenberry or Jeff Montgomery finish it, that would be a good day at the ballpark.
royalsway29: Do you have a funny Ryan Lefebvre moment?
Matthews: There are too many to mention on this chat, but after about half a season, Ryan and I discovered how similar our backgrounds were, and it takes awhile to get to know someone's sense of humor, and that was true both ways. But once I knew what button to push of his and vice versa, we really had some good times and some good laughs. That comes with knowing the person and obviously when you are on the air, you avoid some things and other things are ok to go on with. We figured that out pretty quickly.
lherzog: Denny, Have you ever caught a fly ball from up in the booth?
Matthews: The answer is yes. The number is eight. The misses number one, and it was the easiest chance of all. I took too much for granted. That was in Oakland. I have a rule -- if the ball is coming back on a line, I will have nothing to do with it. If it presents an arc, I would be able to catch it.
labsorhors: If you had to pick a starting rotation from all former Royals pitchers, who would be your top 5?
Matthews: The five starting rotation guys for me would be Dennis Leonard, Bret Saberhagen, Mark Gubicza, Paul Splittorff and Kevin Appier.
Matthews: Thank you for all of your great questions so far. We have time for just a few more since we have to catch the bus to US Cellular field for the game tonight.
labsorhors: If you had 1 inning to broadcast with anyone in baseball in the booth with you, who would it be?
Matthews: It would be Jack Buck. I listened to him as a kid. He was a great broadcaster and a very funny guy. One inning with him would be a lot of laughs and great fun.
labsorhors: Any thought on how long you will continue to keep us riveted to the radio?
Matthews: At least until the end of the game and as long as it is still enjoyable.
Matthews: Thanks for chatting today and hope you enjoy the game tonight!