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Hot Stove Was a Hit: ESPN’s Buster Olney ’82 Talks Baseball in the Middle of Winter 

Jan. 28, 2020 — Local baseball fans wasted no time at the annual NMH Dick Peller Hot Stove Night. “Who’s going to manage the Red Sox?” was the first question from the audience, according to the Greenfield Recorder

About 50 people showed up seeking straight talk on the sport from ESPN’s Buster Olney ’82, who returned to his alma mater to rap about the upcoming major-league season with a panel of baseball professionals. 

Olney is a columnist for ESPN: The Magazine and ESPN.com; he has also covered the New York Giants and New York Yankees for The New York Times. He is a regular analyst for ESPN’s “Baseball Tonight” and hosts the “Baseball Tonight” daily podcast. 

The Hot Stove panel also included Galen Carr ’93, Los Angeles Dodgers’ director of player personnel, and Sarah Langs, reporter and producer for Major League Baseball Advanced Media. Former NMH star Oliver Drake ’06, who pitches for the Tampa Bay Rays, was also represented during the event — his father, Jay Drake, jumped up on stage to sit in on the panel.

They fielded a variety of questions about America’s pastime, but at the center of the discussion was the cheating- and sign-stealing scandal involving personnel for the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox that has emerged in recent weeks. The manager and general manager for Houston were both fired after Major League Baseball (MLB) suspended them for illicit use of electronics to steal signs during the team’s run to the 2017 World Series and again in the 2018 season. Red Sox manager Alex Cora quit in the wake of the MLB report that identified him as the ringleader of the sign-stealing scheme when he was bench coach for the Astros in 2017.

“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,” Olney said of the team’s response to the scandal that cost Cora his job, according to the Recorder.

Moving on to other aspects of the upcoming season, the conversation turned to potential trades of players like Mookie Betts, Francisco Lindor, and Nolan Arenado, and predictions for a World Series face-off. “It’s hard to pick a team that isn’t the Yankees,” Langs said, according to the Recorder. “A Yankees-Dodgers World Series would be so fun.”

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