The game is in great hands right now with all the young players, many of whom are phenomenal, and it is probably is as good as it's ever been talent-wise. As a fan, I like watching all the young players and I like watching different teams play. I never used to watch certain teams, but if a team has good young players now, I'll watch them play, because I want to see those guys perform.
I coached the Marlins last year and Jose Fernandez is fantastic. I'd still watch him every time he pitches. I saw his great rookie season coming. I'm from Tampa, and he pitched there in high school. He just blew everybody away. He made the Marlins right out of spring training last year, but they had sent him down after about two weeks of camp so he could start the year in Double A. He was striking everybody out and deserved to make the big league team, so finally, the last day of spring training, they put him on the team. You knew he was going to pitch well, but you didn't know how he would handle it. His work ethic is incredible. He pays attention and he works hard. He's got the complete package, and a great arm.
There's a lot of good pitching out there. That's why hitting is down. Drug testing might be part of it as well. There are a lot of talented hitters out there, but it's a lot tougher to hit these days. The pitching has gotten a lot better with these young guys, and the relief specialists make for a lot of great bullpens out there.
The addition of instant replay is a good move. There are going to be some quirks to it this year, but there are a lot of games where you've got to get the calls right, because if it determines a win or a loss that shouldn't be in the umpire's hands. There are certain calls they can make a mistake on and you can accept that, but there are some calls that really change the outcome of the game. Those should be corrected, especially in big games late in the season. And I don't think it will slow down the game at all. It's going to be so easy, because this happens on a daily basis over the last 10 years -- when a play is made, the video guy is telling the players, "Hey, he's safe." So you know in two seconds what the answer is.
There's really nothing else you can do to improve the time of the games. You have the commercials, to begin with. So if a pitcher's ready to pitch and a hitter's ready to hit, the umpire can't give you the green light because you're not back from the commercial yet. That slows the game down. If you watch a game in spring training and there are no commercials, those games are two hours. When the guys are ready to go, they go. Plus, it's hard to tell players to hurry up. "Don't foul so many balls off." You can't do that.
As a longtime Yankee, I like what they did this offseason. They have to put the best team out on the field they possibly can. It's great that they tried to cut back on payroll, but you can't cut back and hurt the team. I think their fans are much more excited about the team this season than they were last year, so I think it's good for baseball and great for the Yankees and Yankees fans. Everybody's trying to win and the Yankees should always try to win. It's very tough to have a bridge year there.
I do watch the Yankees, but I have the baseball package, so if there's a good matchup or a good pitcher, I'll watch that. I'm a fan of individual players, so I'll follow them. I don't care about who wins or loses anymore. I used to watch friends of mine play, but most guys I played with are retired now.
Tino Martinez, a two-time All-Star first baseman, spent 16 years in the major leagues with the Mariners, Yankees, Cardinals and Rays, winning four World Series. After retiring as a player following the 2005 season, he worked as a special instructor and special assistant for the Yankees, and spent 2013 as the Marlins' hitting coach.