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Reaching The Majors Is Tougher For Broadcasters

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For a week, play-by-play broadcaster Josh Maurer struggled to control his nerves. He hardly ate or slept. His body only wanted to focus on the job, which he kept reminding himself was basically the same thing he had done hundreds, if not thousands, of times before. All he had to do was call the games.

The difference? Maurer wasn’t in the minors anymore. He was with the Boston Red Sox, an opportunity he had been building toward ever since he was a kid listening to sportscaster Harry Kalas do play-by-play for the Philadelphia Phillies every night. And for minor league broadcasters such as himself, it’s the kind of opportunity that doesn’t often come along.

Not many hear their voices, but they’re out there. Calling games in places such as Lancaster, San Jose, Durham and Pawtucket, all in service of the big dream. While players in the minors strive to be the face of a major league franchise, broadcasters in the minors strive to be the voice.

For them, though, a bit more patience is required.

At any given moment, Major League Baseball’s 30 clubs have at least 750 roster spots to fill. Between the 60 full-time play-by-play jobs and other assorted radio and TV gigs, there are a fraction as many broadcasting jobs in the majors. The play-by-play positions are the pies in the sky for minor league broadcasters, and it’s basically impossible to rise quickly or cut corners in pursuit of one of those.

“It’s one of those careers where unless you have a big early push or unless you know somebody,” says Maurer, who calls games for the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox, “you’re really just going to have to work your way from the bottom up and go as far as you can.”

 

A young would-be announcer can aspire to make a living with a bat and glove rather than a microphone. But as is the case with most of us, the luck of the natural-athleticism draw tends to have other plans. For many, the microphone is the best way to stay connected to the sport.

 

Broadcasters in the minors are subject to many of the same things that test the commitment of players. The conditions are rough. The road trips are long. The pay sucks.

And minor league broadcasters can’t exactly minimize the hours they’re exposed to these things.

Announcers aren’t exempt from the assorted pains in the neck that come with the territory in the minors. For example, you never know when the team bus will break down. When things like that happen, it’s difficult to ignore the “grind” that is day-to-day life in minor league baseball. It’s only natural at such moments for doubts to creep in. And people—including significant others—do ask whether they would be happier in another line of work.

But for the baseball junkie, there are reasons to keep coming back to the mic. Among those are the games, which always get the juices flowing.

Beyond the thrill of calling the game, there’s also satisfaction to be gleaned from being around players as they try to play their way to the majors. If nothing else, it presents a chance to collect unique baseball stories.

 

These are the perks of the job, and they’re enough to keep a minor league announcer behind the mic—and, in the meantime, doing what’s possible to move up the ladder.

But that doesn’t mean moving around is easy. Things are pretty far removed from when a young Vin Scully could catch the attention of Red Barber and go from there. Like all ambitious professionals, minor league broadcasters must build their network.

“In other industries, if you meet a president of a company or a vice president, they can hook you in with another company or another similar job,” says Will Flemming. “There’s a finite number of Major League Baseball jobs. And once people have them, they don’t give them up.”

No kidding. A scroll through the broadcasting section on MLB’s official website reveals fewer than 10 primary radio or TV play-by-play men have gotten gigs within the last five years. (Yes, all men: Suzyn Waldman and Jessica Mendoza notably have color commentary jobs, but play-by-play in the majors is exclusively a boys club.)

Scully is the most extreme example with 66 seasons behind the mic for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers, but the overwhelming majority of baseball’s play-by-play voices have been at it for a decade or longer.

By way of comparison, want to know how many players made their major league debuts in 2015 alone? According to Baseball-Reference.com, 227.

With this being the case, it doesn’t hurt for a minor league broadcaster to get a big break. Minor league players wait on pins and needles for their call to The Show. Broadcasters do too.

And when the call finally comes, the thrill is largely the same.

To read the full article visit Bleacher Report where this was originally published

 

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Dan Patrick: ‘I Want Buccaneer Tom, Not Patriot Tom On Fox’

“‘Buccaneer Tom’ is ‘Vacation Tom.’ That guy’s having a good time.”

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A lot of people have compared the deal FOX signed with Tom Brady to the one NBC signed with Drew Brees before the former Saints quarterback finished his playing days. FOX is set to pay Brady $375 million for his services. That means the network better be right about their faith in the quarterback.

Drew Brees faced a lot of criticism this year. Some have speculated that the reason he is not joining Mike Tirico in the Sunday Night Football booth this season is that he is too boring to be the network’s league analyst.

Dan Patrick says he has a similar concern about Tom Brady. Landing the greatest quarterback of all time is a win for FOX, but we have seen two very different Tom Bradys in his career. If the wrong one shows up, Patrick says this investment could be a disaster for FOX.

“I worry sometimes that if we get ‘Patriot Tom’ instead of ‘Buccaneer Tom,’” Dan Patrick said on his Wednesday show. “‘Buccaneer Tom’ is ‘Vacation Tom.’ That guy’s having a good time. ‘Two-Drink Tommy;’ that I like. But if he does the Patriot Way, that’s not going to be good.”

As he has gotten older, Tom Brady has been more willing to show off his personality. Most famously, he cut loose at the boat parade celebrating the Tampa’s Super Bowl title in 2021.

Dan Patrick wondered if Tom Brady would be aware of the standard for succes in broadcasting. Would he know that entertainment matters? He pointed out that Brady’s social media accounts tend to be pretty funny, but they are likely either manned or at least aided by staff writers.

“Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you can tell us how to do it, and I think that is gonna be the interesting part,” Patrick said.

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Travis Rodgers: ‘Celebrities At SoFi Stadium Make Rams A Better Primetime Fit For NFL’

“You go to a game and it’s, ‘Wow, there’s LeBron; there’s DiCaprio; there’s this.’ Damn, what more can you ask for from this franchise?”

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Tuesday on 710 ESPN Radio Los Angeles, Travis and Sliwa discussed how the NFL is consistently able to fabricate non-game events into must-follow action, generating ratings and revenue during the nearly seven-month long offseason. The special promoting the release of the full 2022 season schedule is on Thusday night is a good example..

“I’m sure we’re going to be 10 weeks into the NFL season [and say], ‘Man, that team didn’t turn out the way we thought it would,’ [or] ‘Oh, that team is better than we thought it’s going to be,’” said show co-host Allen Sliwa. “That’s what kind of makes this part of the year sort of exciting – that you start finding out what the matchups are.”

Nonetheless, the NFL has been able to captivate fans through making a spectacle of offseason events. This includes the impending primetime television schedule release special by the league, rather than simply divulging the week-by-week matchups with minimal grandeur and melodrama.

“They’re so good at turning things that aren’t games into things,” said show co-host Travis Rodgers. “The draft is a huge thing; the combine is a thing; the schedule release is a thing; free agency is a thing; training camps are a thing.”

While the NFL schedule may not yet be fully released, some primetime matchups have been announced in advance, potentially to pique the interest of fans, media partners and the players themselves. It is safe to say that the defending Super Bowl Champion Los Angeles Rams will receive much of the primetime action across the NFL’s remodeled slate of broadcasts during the 2022 season. In fact, it was recently announced that the Rams will be playing on Christmas Day against Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos on a game simulcast on CBS and Paramount+, along with the inclusion of a special viewing presentation on Nickelodeon sure to include the network’s signature slime.

Aside from the team’s success on the field though, there exist other reasons why the current moment is an opportune time to schedule the Rams to play games in primetime.

“I’m telling you – the Rams are really good,” said Rodgers. “They play in a place that’s got great visuals. There’s going to be celebrities in the stands. A brand new stadium. Everybody likes coming to L.A. This is the place you’re going to have people come over and over.”

It was not always guaranteed that the NFL would be willing to return to the City of Angels, and if the league would be welcomed back. Yet since the construction of the $5.5 billion-SoFi Stadium complete with NFL Network studios within new league headquarters combined with the early success of both the Rams and Los Angeles Chargers, the reincarnation of football in southern California has been largely prosperous thus far.

“It’s almost like icing on the cake,” said Sliwa. “The NFL is the NFL either way. But the brand the Rams have created over a short period of time, and… the visuals. You go to a game and it’s, ‘Wow, there’s LeBron; there’s DiCaprio; there’s this.’ Damn, what more can you ask for from this franchise?”

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Tom Millikan Upped To APD of 97.1 The Ticket

“Listeners might not agree with my opinions or show content all of the time, but I genuinely try to produce shows that Detroit sports fans want every single day.”

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Detroit

Congratulations are in order for Tom Millikan. The executive producer of The Morning Show with Stoney and Jansen has been promoted to assistant program director of 97.1 The Ticket in Detroit.

“Tom has done an outstanding job as an executive producer and has played a vital role in the success of the station,” said Debbie Kenyon, Senior Vice President and Market Manager, Audacy Detroit. “He is very deserving of this promotion and we look forward to even greater success with Tom in his new role.”

Millikan has been a steady presence in Detroit sports talk since 1998. He has been with The Ticket since 2012. In that time, he has served as an affiliate relations manager for coverage of the Detroit Tigers, Lions, Red Wings and Pistons. He has also been involved with Michigan Wolverines broadcasts on sister station WWJ AM.

“Throughout my twenty plus years in radio, I’ve been blessed with countless memories of championships and pure joy,” said Millikan. “I’m living out a dream. I wanted to work in sports radio since the format exploded in the early 90s and I’ve been blessed by the tutelage of all of my co-workers and peers. I was born and raised in Detroit and Detroit sports are part of my DNA. Listeners might not agree with my opinions or show content all of the time, but I genuinely try to produce shows that Detroit sports fans want every single day.”

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