Arizona Diamondbacks President and CEO Derrick Hall admits he gambled a bit by hiring Steve Berthiaume to be the play-by-play announcer for the team’s broadcasts on FOX Sports Arizona before the 2013 season.
The team had just dismissed Berthiaume’s predecessor, Daron Sutton, for “philosophical differences,” and also booted color analyst Mark Grace due to Grace’s legal troubles. Hall managed to snatch broadcasting veteran and former Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly away from the Chicago Cubs to replace Grace, but paired him with a relative play-by-play newcomer in Berthiaume, a veteran of ESPN’s Baseball Tonight.
“We were definitely taking a risk,” Hall said. “The time that I spent with Steve I could tell he had tremendous knowledge about baseball. He had the background of Baseball Tonight, a deep passion for it. It was his dream to be a play-by-play announcer. So I knew he would work hard at it.”
Three years into the Brenly-Berthiaume partnership, things seem to be going swimmingly. (Regardless of what you thought about their extended selfie riff a few days ago.) Diamondbacks broadcasts have been the most-watched primetime programming in the Phoenix area all year, and ratings are up 20 percent over last year. FOX Sports Arizona’s June broadcasts were the best for that month since 2007.
It didn’t gel immediately between the pair. Chemistry takes work – Brenly thinks it takes about a year for a broadcasting duo to learn each other’s rhythms –and Berthiaume lagged far behind Brenly when it came to experience calling games.
In their first season together, Berthiaume’s instincts were still in studio-show mode, where “dead air is death.” He would cram the broadcast with too much information, and had yet to find a natural way to work in Brenly’s analysis.
“Sometimes it felt a little too forced,” Brenly said. “(Later) we got to the point where he was doing his thing, covering the play-by-play, giving the nuts and bolts and I would jump in wherever I thought it was appropriate. The times that he does lead me in now, it’s because he wants to know something. Not just to put my voice out there on the air.”
Or as Berthiaume put it: “I have tried to adjust and learn when to just shut the hell up.”
Brenly honed his craft over years, but Berthiaume has given himself a crash course. After each night’s broadcast wraps up, he heads home to watch four or five innings of it. Then he watches parts of several other games, looking for ideas on how to get better.
Now the sum of their parts equal a team that has gotten good reviews from the likes of The Sporting News and AwfulAnnouncing.com. Berthiaume is the self-described baseball geek with an endless supply of historical tidbits about the game. Brenly has a deep knowledge of how the game is played, and a million different stories from his days as a player and manager. (Many of them unfit for the airwaves, he pointed out.)
Brenly calls Berthiaume “Partner” more often than when they began.
“The two mesh so well together,” Hall said. “I think they complement each other perfectly. I think they’re a fantastic team.”
Berthiaume just had his contract extended for unspecified term, although Hall said it covers at least the next two seasons. The ESPN vet feels the risk he took leaving the East Coast, where he’d spent the first 25 years of his career, has been completely worth it.
“It’s the best job in the world,” he said.
Brenly’s deal has two more official years left on it, although it’s expected he’ll have the freedom to stick around beyond that so long as he’s interested.
There’s always the danger that a team could come sniffing around Brenly as a managerial candidate, but the 61-year-old thinks those days are behind him. The last two times he interviewed to return to the dugout – with the Cubs in 2006 and the Brewers in 2008 – he felt like he was “just filling out the dance card.”
Perhaps one of Major League Baseball’s national broadcasting partners comes calling – Brenly has plenty of experience at the national level with TBS and FOX – but he insists he prefers the pleasures of following one team all year long. (His contract does allow for occasional appearances on national broadcasts, something Hall feels only brings more exposure to the Diamondbacks.)
“I like where I’m at right now, I enjoy what I’m doing and I like the people I’m working with,” Brenly said. “I’m not looking for anything.
Credit to the Arizona Republic who originally published this article
Lauren Shehadi: Ernie Johnson Is The Model For Studio Hosts
“To me, he’s the greatest in-studio host. What he does best is facilitate greatness.”
In addition to her job at MLB Network being a host on MLB Central, Lauren Shehadi is hosting TBS’s Tuesday night baseball coverage each week with Jimmy Rollins, Curtis Granderson, and Pedro Martinez. The Tuesday night games are new for Turner Sports this year after doing only Sunday games during the regular season in addition to the network’s postseason coverage.
Shehadi was a guest on The Kyle Koster Show this week and she was asked what the goal was for her with the MLB on TBS Tuesday broadcasts. She takes a lot of inspiration from what she sees on Inside The NBA on TNT.
“I always think about Ernie Johnson in the same building. To me, he’s the greatest in-studio host. What he does best is facilitate greatness. He gets the most out of Shaq and Kenny [Smith] and Charles [Barkley]. If there’s no ego involved, it’s all about how the show can be so great.
“You look at him and you think how can I be like that? You want to be authentic and be yourself, but in the sense of getting the best out of your guys and girls that you talk to every day. That was my goal going in, Be authentic.”
Shehadi said she gets to spend a lot of time with Johnson and the rest of the Turner Sports crew. Tuesday nights tend to be something of a corporate family reunion.
“On Tuesday nights, we all sit in a room and we all watch NBA, MLB, and NHL when it’s on. We get Shaq’s reaction to Sandy Alcantara’s slider in real-time. What we see from Inside The NBA is when they do demos. When they get up and walk and they are casual and they do little bits, that’s what we try to take to our show, but we want it to feel authentic.”
When Shehadi isn’t hosting Turner Sports’ baseball coverage, she is a part of MLB Central every weekday on MLB Network with Robert Flores and Mark DeRosa. On that show, the goal for her is how to make baseball relatable to everyone:
“That’s the sweet spot of MLB Central. No question is silly. Nobody is smarter than the other. We laugh at ourselves. We laugh at each other. It is just a fun 4 hours, grab your coffee, let’s talk the game, let’s laugh because life is short and baseball is fun.”
AT&T Sportsnet’s Kelsey Wingert Shows Off Stitches After Being Drilled Line Drive
“The veteran reporter is expected to get married in June. Doctors are “hoping” the scar doesn’t effect her big day.”
Baseball reporters at the regional level have some of the toughest jobs in all of sports. Not only do they cover each for all 162 games, but there’s always the potential for getting drilled by a foul ball.
While all MLB ball clubs have expanded their netting this season to protect fans sitting close to the field, Rockies sideline reporter Kelsey Wingert suffered a nasty injury via a foul ball earlier this week.
A scary incident took place on Monday’s outing against the Rockies and San Francisco Giants at Coors Field in Denver. In the ninth inning, Giants outfielder Austin Slater hit a foul ball off Daniel Bard, with the ball heading straight to the dugout, right where Wingert was standing while reporting for AT&T Sportsnet.
After getting attended to by the Rockies medical staff and walking it off, giving fans a “thumbs up,” Wingert ended up having to go to the hospital where she received multiple stitches to her forehead.
The 29-year-old reporter took to Twitter on Wednesday to express her gratitude towards the Rockies organization and AT&T Sportsnet general manager David Woodman, who along with his wife Paula, stayed by her side at the hospital.
“I had a CT scan to make sure there was no internal bleeding or fractures and all came back clear. Thank God,” Wingert said on Twitter Wednesday. “The stitches will have to come out in a week. I’m very lucky it wasn’t worse. It was just really scary and bummed me out given the circumstances.”
You would think this was the first time Wingert got hit by a ball but back in 2018 while working for Fox Sports and the Atlanta Braves she was struck by a foul ball while standing near a camera past the Braves dugout, resulting in a fractured eye socket.
Wingert retweeted a photo taken of her black eye after returning home where she made light of what could’ve been an awful occurrence.
While recovering from her wound, Wingert will be taking a few games off. The veteran reporter is expected to get married in June. Doctors are “hoping” the scar doesn’t effect her big day.
Greg Olsen To Partner With Kevin Burkhardt For Super Bowl LVII
“Last season was the first Burkhardt and Olsen worked together. They largely won rave reviews.”
The deal isn’t done yet, but Andrew Marchand of The New York Post reports that Greg Olsen is on his way to joining Kevin Burkhardt in the top NFL booth at FOX. Although Tom Brady will take over that role after he retires and leaves the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Olsen will spend at least this season on FOX’s A-Team.
Last season was the first Burkhardt and Olsen worked together. They largely won rave reviews.
Earlier this year, the former Panther told The Mac Attack on WFNZ in Charlotte that he was disappointed he didn’t get to call a postseason game. He will more than make up for that in 2023. As Burkhardt’s partner, Olsen is in line to be the analyst for Super Bowl LVII.
Marchand writes that we could get a taste of what is to come in February. He speculates that if the Buccaneers are not in the Super Bowl, it is possible Tom Brady could make his FOX debut, either in the booth alongside Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen or as part of the network’s studio show.
Now, FOX has to make a decision about it’s number 2 NFL booth. According to Marchand, Drew Brees is a candidate to be the analyst. Adam Amin and Joe Davis have emerged as candidates for the play-by-play role.