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Correcting Bad Habits In The Broadcast Booth

“I’ve listened back to some of my work this season and noticed a few of these “crutches” and I cringe a little bit. I can only imagine what our listeners are thinking.”

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Baseball itself has changed a lot over the years: the way teams travel, to the building of new parks, sabermetrics and of course the defensive shift. Because of all of that change, broadcasts and broadcasters have had to change the way some information is presented, but some habits have been hard to break. I know, because I’m guilty of a few of these myself. So, don’t take this as me scolding, instead maybe think of it as a reminder that we all need to pay attention to this issue. 

Image result for baseball radio booth

For as long as I can remember baseball broadcasts have featured a lengthy out of town scoreboard. The action takes a back seat to “out of town scores”. This info was relevant for a while. The days before electronic devices made this scoreboard feature a big deal if you wanted to know a specific score. But as my old broadcast partner Jerry Coleman used to say “that was then, this is now”.

I’m not sure how needed this information is anymore. Why take anything away from the team you are actually calling games for to bring some meaningless scores from around the league. Chances are pretty good that if you want to know a score, you can easily find it. Your smartphone, tablet, or computer has that information covered. 

Now there are a couple of exceptions to this rule. Pennant races late in the season are a good reason to keep an audience updated on another team’s score. If Team A, needs Team B to lose, well certainly if you’re calling games for Team A, your audience cares if Team B wins or loses.

The other exceptions would be if something very out of the ordinary is going on in a game, if an individual had a monster game or there was a significant injury involved. To update the score of last week’s Padres/Phillies game would have been a good idea, considering Andrew McCutchen left with an injury. It turned out to be a significant one, with an ACL tear. If you were talking about the White Sox/Astros game from a couple of weeks ago, I’d be fine with an update on that game considering the Sox turned a triple play and hit a grand slam in the same contest. You get the idea. 

Image result for white sox triple play rangers

When it comes the next two old habits, I have been guilty of both in the last two weeks. 

Baseball is fighting the image that it’s a slow sport that drags on and on. The worst part is that at times the game does drag on. If you’re a broadcaster constantly reminding people of this fact it sounds like you’d rather be somewhere else or that this game is infringing on your time. I understand that in the moment, yes, the game can get long and drawn out, but I feel like we should make the best of it.

Instill a little humor or interesting fact. “There have been 82 pitches thrown in this inning by 4 pitchers…”, that gives the listener an idea of how long things have been going on. It should also give you an opportunity to tell a story or two, relate a conversation you had with a player or coach before the game. I know I’m guilty here too, but we should all be trying to change. 

This next one came up recently while doing a road series with the White Sox in Washington DC. Those that have called games in Nationals Park know exactly how high the broadcast booths are in relation to the field. I’ve heard (and probably said), “there will be no fly balls higher than where we’re located”, or “we hired Sherpa’s to help us climb up to the booth”.

Image result for washington nationals broadcast booth

Ok once it may come off as sarcastic and funny, more than that, seems to the listener that you’re complaining about being paid to be at a baseball game. I get it, sarcasm might be my actual middle name, but we have to be better than that!

Maybe instead of the sarcasm we can describe how well we can see the defensive alignments, or how it’s a bird’s eye view of the jump the left fielder gets on a ball in the gap? I’m going to try this for sure. 

I know I’m coming off a bit preachy here. I’ve listened back to some of my work this season and noticed a few of these “crutches” and I cringe a little bit. I can only imagine what our listeners are thinking. 

BSM Writers

Mike Tirico Has ‘Never Pretended to Be Friends’ With Athletes

“I like having a healthy relationship where if I need something, I can ask whether it’s for on-air or for background and build trust.”

Ricky Keeler

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Mike Tirico has been covering sports on network television for 32 years. Over those 3+ decades, he has made it a point to not be so close with the athletes he covers in whichever sport he is broadcasting.

Tirico was a guest on the most recent episode of the GOLF’s Subpar podcast with Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz. While Tirico knows he is not doing extensive journalism work, he wants to make sure that he can be able to ask the hard questions if he has to any athlete.

“I never pretend to be friends with the athletes I cover. I like having a healthy relationship where if I need something, I can ask whether it’s for on-air or for background and build trust. I’m not in a position where I’m working for Outside the Lines at my old place, ESPN. It’s not a knock. It’s just you’re not in a position where you have to do these journalistic-type interviews all the time, but there are times you have to ask hard questions. I always try to keep a little bit of a buffer or a distance.”

The context of that question came when Tirico was asked about how good of a relationship he has with Tiger Woods.

“It’s good….If I reach out, he will usually get back to me. He’s been really good and really nice along the way.”

As for broadcasting sports in this day and age of social media, Tirico believes that it can make a broadcaster better whether or not the complaint from someone on Twitter is real or not.

“It makes us better because you know that people are going to catch you. If something is artificial or not, real or not, embraced or not, it forces you to be better at what you do.”

For that same reason, Tirico thinks that LIV Golf is going to make the PGA Tour have to be better going forward because now they have another tour to go up against.

“I think LIV Golf, and we all have our own opinions on it, is going to force the PGA Tour to be better. Competition is good. Checks and balances are really good.”

Even though Tirico doesn’t feel nervous about many broadcasts anymore, there was one event in the last decade where the nerves kicked in when he was hosting his first Olympics at NBC.

“The only time in the last 10 years that I’ve been nervous was coming on for the first time hosting the Olympics because Bob Costas has done that since most of us have been alive and most people had never seen anyone but Bob Costas host the Olympics in primetime…2 minutes before, I’m like ‘should I be this? Should I have fun?’ and then the minute before, I cracked a joke in the studio.”

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BSM Writers

Kyle Brandt’s Rant a Reminder to Consider the Messenger

This doesn’t mean Brandt is wrong or even that he is being told to echo the NFL’s position, it’s to note that he took a very powerful stance on a very powerful platform and they both matter.

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Kyle Brandt

This week, a massive announcement was made in the National Football League regarding the immediate future of Deshaun Watson. Judge Sue L. Robinson recommended a six -game suspension with no additional monetary fine for the quarterback. While the NFL mulls what it will say further, most others didn’t, including a really prominent personality: Kyle Brandt.

Brandt, a co-host on Good Morning Football, reacted like a lot of people did upon hearing the decision: forcefully. On Monday, Brandt denounced the decision to limit Watson’s suspension to six games, saying in part, “…I look at six and I find it very light. I hope it doesn’t stay that way personally. I think that Deshaun Watson leveraged his status as an NFL player against women. In my opinion. And I think it happened more than one time and I think it was was in closed doors in small rooms against women who were probably intimidated. And it pisses me off to even talk about it. And frankly it pisses me off to see the number six. And I don’t think it’s going to stay that way and I hope it doesn’t.”

Those words resonated. Once they were said, the clip was grabbed from the show and then distributed on Brandt’s Twitter account which reaches 333,000+ followers and on his Instagram which speaks to 96,000+ followers. That video has been seen over two million times. Viral, they say. Here it is if you did happen to miss it. Passionate stuff from Brandt.

If you believe in the message, it’s an easy to like, retweet or share idea. It’s not a hot take, frankly, because there is a large section of those that have been following this story that agree. Deshaun Watson is settling cases because people believe he did something bad. Something bad enough that judge did seem fit to point it out and recommend what is generally speaking, a strong suspension. The only problem here is the platform hosting the message.

This is not a Kyle Brandt-bashing piece. He isn’t the platform. If anything, he’s the vessel of this message he wants out. He also, very likely, feels exactly the way he said he did in the above tweeted video. In fact, the next day, Tuesday, Brandt doubled down on his opinion. The newer video was viewed over 400,000 times. You can check it out right below these words.

The distinction needs to be noted that the message Brandt is delivering, is the NFL’s message. It is what Roger Goodell wants to be the prevailing wisdom regarding how we feel about the current state of Watson’s suspension. That message is being amplified by a very popular co-host, on a very popular morning television show that is seen by a lot of people and that is owned by the National Football League.

Again, I am here waving to you wildly to say that I have no reason to believe that Brandt is being told this particular messaging needs to be voiced. But, I do know that the NFL has until Thursday to appeal the decision. Three days is a lot of time to gather data on whether or not the public might support you appealing for more games, something that the league most certainly will look into judging by their statement released shortly after the ruling.

I also know that the NFL was seeking a much longer suspension as well as a hefty fine to be issued to Watson. The NFL has taken a lot of hits for how it has handled players violating league rules and the player conduct policy. No matter which case you look at, comparing it to the one previous or the one right after is an exercise is madness. The one common theme seems to be is that when the NFL feels like it is delving out punishment, it wants to be severe, no matter the consistency. Remember, Tom Brady was a short ‘yes’ answer away from appealing his case to the Supreme Court. The NFL isn’t particularly interested in just letting things go.

It is well within the realm of possibility that the NFL is getting what it rarely gets: an overwhelming opinion that actually sides with it in terms of punishment. For the majority of the modern cases I can remember, more fans than not disagreed with the NFL’s stance on a case. This time, they might have the court of public opinion on their side. I hear far more ‘kick him outs’ in reference to Watson than I do ‘no suspensions’.

We might have the perfect storm for the NFL in terms of support and Kyle Brandt’s message lines up exactly with the leagues desires, no matter how they may have gotten there. Both want more punishment for the Cleveland quarterback. Brandt can hope, the NFL can fight.

This doesn’t mean Brandt is wrong or even that he is being told to echo the NFL’s position, it’s to note that he took a very powerful stance on a very powerful platform and they both matter.

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BSM Writers

Producers Podcast Episode 6: Jackson Safon, The Volume

Brady Farkas

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Jackson Safon has produced for a number of high profile digital networks. Now, as a freelancer, The Volume has put its faith in him to get the most out of Draymond Green, and CC Sabathia and Ryan Ruocco have trusted him to make R2C2 the best it can be.

iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-producers-podcast/id1630978079

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/show/2XBTp3PnrBvGv2n4Y19tCE?si=c84eee71512e49a5

iHeart: https://www.iheart.com/podcast/269-the-producers-podcast-98564690/

Google: https://podcasts.google.com/feed/aHR0cHM6Ly9mZWVkcy5ibHVicnJ5LmNvbS9mZWVkcy9wcm9kdWNlcnNwb2QueG1s?sa=X&ved=0CAMQ4aUDahcKEwiQpvak__P4AhUAAAAAHQAAAAAQRw

Amazon: https://music.amazon.com/podcasts/241160ba-ad26-4297-a37a-107dfb10b462/the-producers-podcast 

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