We’ve seen and heard a lot of exciting moments in baseball this season. Milestones, no-hitters, triple plays, walk-offs and more. Broadcasters live for these opportunities, to call big events and have your call be a part of history. That comes with some pressure as well. There are no re-dos. It’s live and once your call is out there, it lives on forever. How each person handles these situations is as unique as the moments themselves. You really can’t prepare for things like a triple play or even a no-no. Being in the moment is critical. Baseball broadcasters experience this every single game. You never know what you might see and that’s the beauty of baseball.
Every season provides fans with excitement, even if their particular team isn’t very good. I went back to watch/listen to a few of those special things that have taken place so far in 2022. I have provided you with the text of the calls and I’ll offer my thoughts on why I picked that call. I know there are a bunch of others that I may have left out, so just enjoy what I chose. With a little over a month to go in the season, I’m sure there are many more crazy and great moments to come. Here we go!
MIGUEL CABRERA 3,000th HIT
A sure fire, first ballot hall of famer Miguel Cabrera was in line to join a rather exclusive club in baseball history, the 3000-hit club this season. He did it at Comerica Park and really enjoyed the big moment in his career. Longtime radio play-by-play man Dan Dickerson had the call on Tigers Radio.
‘The 1-1, ground ball, base hit into right! 3,000 for Miguel Cabrera! Raises his arms, Iglesias is the first to hug him, the Tigers dugout empties as they charge over to first base. And let the hug dispensing begin. Oh, what an incredible journey. From a skinny 15-year-old discovered on the dusty fields of Maracay, to an icon in Motown. Miguel Cabrera the pride of Venezuela has joined one of the most exclusive clubs, containing the best hitters in baseball history, 3-thousand hits.’
This call has it all. The excitement of the enormity of the milestone is captured at the beginning of the call. The description of the aftermath is great as well. Pointing out how his former teammate was the first to get to him and hug Cabrera. What I really liked was the history lesson from Dickerson talking about Cabrera’s journey to where he is. It shows me how in tune he is with the team that he broadcasts. Dickerson caps it off with the most important aspect of the play, just how exclusive the club Cabrera just joined is.
PIRATES WIN DESPITE BEING NO HIT
In one of the more improbable wins of the year. The Pittsburgh Pirates scored a run in the 8th inning of a scoreless game with the Reds, without benefit of a hit. In fact, the Pirates took their 1-0 lead into the 9th, while being no-hit in the game. The final Reds batter had a count of 3-2 with two outs. Greg Brown along with Bob Walk have the final call of this crazy game.
Brown: Ground ball right side, sliding stop, on to first, RAISE THE JOLLY ROGER! And history, the Pirates are no-hit, but win the game!
Bob Walk: Out of this world, I mean it’s crazy…
Brown: Such a cliché, you never what you’re gonna see, but so true. What a great win.
Walk: Not a single batter is happy on either side, pitching staff is happy of course. Oh my word, what an incredible game.
It was at that time the crew flashed on the screen that the Pirates were just the 6th team in MLB history to win a game in which they were no-hit. This call proved that cliché Brown spoke of. I mean who could ever imagine going to a game, watching your team get no-hit and somehow still win the game? Brown and Walk echoed that surprise and shock perfectly. They were almost laughing at the improbability. Brown talked about the history of the moment, which had only been equaled 5 other times. I loved that Walk added the line about the hitters being upset and the pitchers loving the game. This was a great call to end a very strange game indeed.
REID DETMERS NO-HITTER
On May 10, 2022, Angels rookie left-hander Reid Detmers threw a no-hitter in a 12-0 win over Tampa Bay. The 22-year-old was the youngest to twirl a no-no since Anibal Sanchez in 2006 for the Marlins. With one out to go, Patrick O’Neal and Mark Gubicza took over to describe the final at-bat.
O’Neal: Ground ball, Velasquez, throws across…HE’S DONE IT! Reid Detmers throws a no-hitter! (They lay out for 1:04 while the pictures and sounds take over) Truly incredible amazing Mark…
Gubicza: Knowing the kid, great kid, a battler, what stuff, what a moment, something he will remember for the rest of his life. (He continues as a replay is shown of the final out, focused on the pitcher) Ground ball, great curveball, the anticipation, the throw and YES! No-No time for Reid Detmers!
A great and simple call to frame the moment in Anaheim. O’Neal was economical with his words and as I’ve said many, many times before, I love that they ‘laid out’ to allow the pictures and sounds just take over. The images were compelling enough, so were the sounds of the crowd and teammates mobbing the young pitcher after what he accomplished. Gubicza sounded like a proud papa. As a former big-league pitcher, he could relate to the pressure and just how rare the no-hitter is. I was struck though with the personal nature of Gubicza’s commentary, he was genuinely touched by what the kid accomplished. It wasn’t over the top, it was just right.
JOSH NAYLOR’S WALK-OFF HOME RUN
The Cleveland Guardians are right in the middle of a playoff run. Every game, especially those against a division foe like Minnesota, are important. Some announcers just have an uncanny ability to rise to the occasion. Count Tom Hamilton of Guardians Radio among the best to be able to do it. Case in point, Josh Naylor’s walk-off home run against the Twins.
‘Two out, 2-2 count, runner at third, bottom of the tenth, here it comes…a swing and a fly ball, deep left field, down the line it goes, Gordon in the corner, GONE!!!!! A walk off 2-run home run by Josh Naylor, down the left field line, it’s a game winner, and a mob scene at home plate! And the Guardians have stunned the Twins again! 4 runs in the bottom of the tenth, and Cleveland has beaten Minnesota 7-6 in 10 innings. Unbelievable. Down to their last strike and Naylor head butting Tito who had a batting helmet on.’
Hamilton does it brilliantly, as always. Emotion, excitement, description, yet controlled. It’s not easy to accomplish but Hamilton does it. I love the fact that he was paying attention to the celebration on the field. If he wasn’t, he’d have missed, Naylor in his excitement, actually did head butt manager Terry Francona. Tito must have been expecting it, because he was in fact wearing a batting helmet. Talk about having command of a situation, he made it sound like a walk in the park. Easy, in other words!
JOE MUSGROVE NO HITTER
This is one where you’d have to forgive the announcer for ‘losing it’, not that Don Orsillo lost it, but it was close. The Padres were the only franchise in baseball left, without a no-hitter to its credit. That was before a fateful night in Arlington, Texas. Where a kid from San Diego erased all of that with one tremendous outing. Here’s Orsillo’s description of the final out.
‘One out away. The Friar Faithful stand as one in Texas. Ground ball to shortstop, Kim will go to first…the SAN DIEGO PADRES GET THEIR FIRST NO-HITTER IN THE HISTORY OF THE FRANCHISE! IT BELONGS TO SAN DIEGO’S OWN, JOE MUSGROVE! SENDING THE FRIAR FAITHFUL INTO A FRENSY!’
You could just hear the years of frustration melt away with this succinct and very effective call. Orsillo was the voice of a fan base that had never experienced the highs of this type of moment. Could the story have been written any better? The alliteration Orsillo chose really worked. Padres’ fans have always been told to keep the faith, thus the Friar Faithful moniker. Orsillo didn’t have to say much, but he conveyed a lot of emotion into the few words he needed to describe the craziness of that instance. Some would try way too hard in a moment like that, but not a pro like Orsillo. Well done.
These are just a few examples of how special, unique and monumental moments are handled by the true pros that call Major League Baseball. People tend to remember these instances through these memorable calls. They live on long after they’ve taken place thanks to the emotions these memories elicit. And thanks to the connection formed between the announcer and the fans.
Andy Masur is a columnist for BSM and works for WGN Radio as an anchor and play-by-play announcer. He also teaches broadcasting at the Illinois Media School. During his career he has called games for the Chicago Cubs, San Diego Padres and Chicago White Sox. He can be found on Twitter @Andy_Masur1 or you can reach him by email at Andy@Andy-Masur.com.
The Future Is Now, Embrace Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV+
As annoying as streaming sports is and as much as I haven’t fully adapted to the habit yet, Amazon and Apple have done a magnificent job of trying to make the process as easy and simplified as possible.
This week has been a reckoning for sports and its streaming future on Amazon Prime Video, AppleTV+, ESPN+, and more.
Amazon announced that Thursday Night Football, which averaged 13 million viewers, generated the highest number of U.S. sign ups over a three hour period in the app’s history. More people in the United States subscribed to Prime during the September 15th broadcast than they did during Black Friday, Prime Day, and Cyber Monday. It was also “the most watched night of primetime in Prime Video’s history,” according to Amazon executive Jay Marine. The NFL and sports in general have the power to move mountains even for some of the nation’s biggest and most successful brands.
This leads us to the conversation happening surrounding Aaron Judge’s chase for history. Judge has been in pursuit of former major leaguer Roger Maris’ record for the most home runs hit during one season in American League history.
The sports world has turned its attention to the Yankees causing national rights holders such as ESPN, Fox, and TBS to pick up extra games in hopes that they capture the moment history is made. Apple TV+ also happened to have a Yankees game scheduled for Friday night against the Red Sox right in the middle of this chase for glory.
Baseball fans have been wildin’ out at the prospects of missing the grand moment when Judge passes Maris or even the moments afterwards as Judge chases home run number 70 and tries to truly create monumental history of his own. The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand has even reported there were talks between YES, MLB, and Apple to bring Michael Kay into Apple’s broadcast to call the game, allow YES Network to air its own production of the game, or allow YES Network to simulcast Apple TV+’s broadcast. In my opinion, all of this hysteria is extremely bogus.
As annoying as streaming sports is and as much as I haven’t fully adapted to the habit yet, Amazon and Apple have done a magnificent job of trying to make the process as easy and simplified as possible. Amazon brought in NBC to help with production of TNF and if you watch the flow of the broadcast, the graphics of the broadcast, NBC personalities like Michael Smith, Al Michaels, and Terry McAuliffe make appearances on the telecast – it is very clear that the network’s imprint is all over the show.
NBC’s experience in conducting the broadcast has made the viewing experience much more seamless. Apple has also used MLB Network and its personalities for assistance in ensuring there’s no major difference between what you see on air vs. what you’re streaming.
Amazon and Apple have also decided to not hide their games behind a paywall. Since the beginning of the season, all of Apple’s games have been available free of charge. No subscription has ever been required. As long as you have an Apple device and can download Apple TV+, you can watch their MLB package this season.
Guess what? Friday’s game against the Red Sox is also available for free on your iPhone, your laptop, or your TV simply by downloading the AppleTV app. Amazon will also simulcast all Thursday Night Football games on Twitch for free. It may be a little harder or confusing to find the free options, but they are out there and they are legal and, once again, they are free.
Apple has invested $85 million into baseball, money that will go towards your team becoming better hypothetically. They’ve invested money towards creating a new kind of streaming experience. Why in the hell would they offer YES Network this game for free? There’s no better way for them to drive subscriptions to their product than by offering fans a chance at watching history on their platform.
A moment like this are the main reason Apple paid for rights in the first place. When Apple sees what the NFL has done for Amazon in just one week and coincidentally has the ability to broadcast one of the biggest moments in baseball history – it would be a terrible business decision to let viewers watch it outside of the Apple ecosystem and lose the ability to gain new fans.
It’s time for sports fans to grow up and face reality. Streaming is here to stay.
MLB Network is another option
If you don’t feel like going through the hassle of watching the Yankees take on the Red Sox for free on Apple TV+, MLB Network will also air all of Judge’s at bats live as they are happening. In case the moment doesn’t happen on Apple TV+ on Friday night, Judge’s next games will air in full on MLB Network (Saturday), ESPN (Sunday), MLB Network again (Monday), TBS (Tuesday) and MLB Network for a third time on Wednesday. All of MLB Network’s games will be simulcast of YES Network’s local New York broadcast. It wouldn’t shock me to see Fox pick up another game next Thursday if the pursuit still maintains national interest.
- One of the weirdest things about the experience of streaming sports is that you lose the desire to channel surf. Is that a good thing or bad thing? Brandon Ross of LightShed Ventures wonders if the difficulty that comes with going from app to app will help Amazon keep viewers on TNF the entire time no matter what the score of the game is. If it does, Amazon needs to work on developing programming to surround the games or start replaying the games, pre and post shows so that when you fall asleep and wake up you’re still on the same stream on Prime Video or so that coming to Prime Video for sports becomes just as much of a habit for fans as tuning in to ESPN is.
- CNN has announced the launch of a new morning show with Don Lemon, Poppy Harlow and Kaitlin Collins. Variety reports, “Two people familiar with plans for the show say it is likely to use big Warner Bros. properties — a visit from the cast of HBO’s Succession or sports analysis from TNT’s NBA crew — to lure eyeballs.” It’ll be interesting to see if Turner Sports becomes a cornerstone of this broadcast. Will the NBA start doing schedule releases during the show? Will a big Taylor Rooks interview debut on this show before it appears on B/R? Will the Stanley Cup or Final Four MVP do an interview on CNN’s show the morning after winning the title? Does the show do remote broadcasts from Turner’s biggest sports events throughout the year?
- The Clippers are back on over the air television. They announced a deal with Nexstar to broadcast games on KTLA and other Nexstar owned affiliates in California. The team hasn’t reached a deal to air games on Bally Sports SoCal or Bally Sports Plus for the upcoming season. Could the Clippers pursue a solo route and start their own OTT service in time for the season? Are they talking to Apple, Amazon, or ESPN about a local streaming deal? Is Spectrum a possible destination? I think these are all possibilities but its likely that the Clippers end up back on Bally Sports since its the status quo. I just find it interesting that it has taken so long to solidify an agreement and that it wasn’t announced in conjunction with the KTLA deal. The Clippers are finally healthy this season, moving into a new arena soon, have the technology via Second Spectrum to produce immersive game casts. Maybe something is brewing?
- ESPN’s Monday Night Football double box was a great concept. The execution sucked. Kudos to ESPN for adjusting on the fly once complaints began to lodge across social media. I think the double box works as a separate feed. ESPN2 should’ve been the home to the double box. SVP and Stanford Steve could’ve held a watch party from ESPN’s DC studio with special guests. The double box watch party on ESPN2 could’ve been interrupted whenever SVP was giving an update on games for ESPN and ABC. It would give ESPN2 a bit of a behind the scenes look at how the magic happens similarly to what MLB Tonight did last week. Credit to ESPN and the NFL for experimenting and continuing to try and give fans unique experiences.
Jessie Karangu is a columnist for BSM and graduate of the University of Maryland with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland but comes from Kenyan roots. Jessie has had a passion for sports media and the world of television since he was a child. His career has included stints with USA Today, Tegna, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Sightline Media. He can be found on Twitter @JMKTVShow.
ESPN Shows Foresight With Monday Night Football Doubleheader Timing
ESPN is obviously testing something, and it’s worth poking around at why the network wouldn’t follow the schedule it has used for the last 16 years, scheduling kickoffs at 7 and then 10 on their primary channel.
The Monday Night Football doubleheader was a little bit different this time around for ESPN.
First, it came in Week 2 instead of Week 1. And then, the games were staggered 75 minutes apart on two different channels, the Titans and Bills beginning on ESPN at 7:15 PM ET and the Vikings at the Eagles starting at 8:30 PM on ABC and ESPN+. This was a departure from the usual schedule in which the games kicked off at 7:00 PM ET and then 10:00 PM ET with the latter game on the West Coast.
ESPN is obviously testing something, and it’s worth poking around at why the network wouldn’t follow the schedule it has used for the last 16 years, scheduling kickoffs at 7:00 PM and then 10:00 PM ET on their primary channel. That’s the typical approach, right? The NFL is the most valuable offering in all of sports and ESPN would have at least six consecutive hours of live programming without any other game to switch to.
Instead, they staggered the starts so the second game kicked off just before the first game reached halftime. They placed the games on two different channels, which risked cannibalizing their audience. Why? Well, it’s the same reason that ESPN was so excited about the last year’s Manningcast that it’s bringing it back for 10 weeks this season. ESPN is not just recognizing the reality of how their customers behave, but they’re embracing it.
Instead of hoping with everything they have that the customer stays in one place for the duration of the game, they’re recognizing the reality that they will leave and providing another product within their portfolio to be a destination when they do.
It’s the kind of experiment everyone in broadcasting should be investigating because, for all the talk about meeting the customer where they are, we still tend to be a little bit stubborn about adapting to what they do.
Customers have more choices than ever when it comes to media consumption. First, cable networks softened the distribution advantages of broadcast networks, and now digital offerings have eroded the distribution advantages of cable networks. It’s not quite a free-for-all, but the battle for viewership is more intense, more wide open than ever because that viewer has so many options of not just when and where but how they will consume media.
Programmers have a choice in how to react to this. On the one hand, they can hold on tighter to the existing model and try to squeeze as much out of it as they can. If ESPN was thinking this way it would stack those two Monday night games one after the other just like it always has and hope like hell for a couple of close games to juice the ratings. Why would you make it impossible for your customer to watch both of these products you’ve paid so much to televise?
I’ve heard radio programmers and hosts recite take this same approach for more than 10 years now when it comes to making shows available on-demand. Why would you give your customers the option of consuming the product in a way that’s not as remunerative or in a way that is not measured?
That thinking is outdated and it is dangerous from an economic perspective because it means you’re trying to make the customer behave in your best interest by restricting their choices. And maybe that will work. Maybe they like that program enough that they’ll consume it in the way you’d prefer or maybe they decide that’s inconvenient or annoying or they decide to try something else and now this customer who would have listened to your product in an on-demand format is choosing to listen to someone else’s product entirely.
After all, you’re the only one that is restricting that customer’s choices because you’re the only one with a desire to keep your customer where he is. Everyone else is more than happy to give your customer something else.
There’s a danger in holding on too tightly to the existing model because the tighter you squeeze, the more customers will slip through your fingers, and if you need a physical demonstration to complete this metaphor go grab a handful of sand and squeeze it hard.
Your business model is only as good as its ability to predict the behavior of your customers, and as soon as it stops doing that, you need to adjust that business model. Don’t just recognize the reality that customers today will exercise the freedom that all these media choices provide, embrace it.
Offer more products. Experiment with more ways to deliver those products. The more you attempt to dictate the terms of your customer’s engagement with your product, the more customers you’ll lose, and by accepting this you’ll open yourself to the reality that if your customer is going to leave your main offering, it’s better to have them hopping to another one of your products as opposed to leaving your network entirely.
Think in terms of depth of engagement, and breadth of experience. That’s clearly what ESPN is doing because conventional thinking would see the Manningcast as a program that competes with the main Monday Night Football broadcast, that cannibalizes it. ESPN sees it as a complimentary experience. An addition to the main broadcast, but it also has the benefit that if the customer feels compelled to jump away from the main broadcast – for whatever reason – it has another ESPN offering that they may land on.
I’ll be watching to see what ESPN decides going forward. The network will have three Monday Night Football doubleheaders beginning next year, and the game times have not been set. Will they line them up back-to-back as they had up until this year? If they do it will be a vote of confidence that its traditional programming approach that evening is still viable. But if they overlap those games going forward, it’s another sign that less is not more when it comes to giving your customers a choice in products.
Danny O’Neil is a sports media columnist for BSM. He has previously hosted morning and afternoon drive for 710 ESPN Seattle, and served as a reporter for the Seattle Times. He can be reached on Twitter @DannyOneil or by email at Danny@DannyOneil.com.
Media Noise: Sunday Ticket Has Problems, Marcellus Wiley Does Not
On this episode of Media Noise, Demetri is joined by Brian Noe to talk about the wild year FS1’s Marcellus Wiley has had and by Garrett Searight to discuss the tumultuous present and bright future of NFL Sunday Ticket.
Demetri Ravanos is the Assistant Content Director for Barrett Sports Media. He hosts the Chewing Clock and Media Noise podcasts. He occasionally fills in on stations across the Carolinas. Previous stops include WAVH and WZEW in Mobile, AL, WBPT in Birmingham, AL and WBBB, WPTK and WDNC in Raleigh, NC. You can find him on Twitter @DemetriRavanos and reach him by email at DemetriTheGreek@gmail.com.