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.
Ritzo, for instance, is officially the director of broadcasting for San Jose. In a 2015 interview with Dick Sparrer of the San Jose Mercury News, he said his workday includes not only calling the game but also providing coaches with statistics, getting quotes from players and coaches, compiling packets for the media, doing a postgame show and writing a game recap.
This is much like the typical workday Solondz outlined for Josh Leventhal of Baseball America in 2010. And all the extra work beyond calling the game is necessary. According to Leventhal, merely announcing games in the minors only pays about $1,200 to $1,500 a month. And remember, that’s for less than half the year.
Elsewhere, 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.
ESPN announced Wednesday that the 35-year-old Mendoza is now a permanent fixture in the Sunday prime-time booth. She’ll join another new analyst, Aaron Boone, alongside returning play-by-play voice Dan Shulman.
They replace Curt Schilling, who moves to Monday, and John Kruk, who returns to “Baseball Tonight.”
“It’s just crazy when I look back, and literally less than six months ago I had no idea what was going to happen after the Monday night games,” Mendoza says.
Just like that, she’s the most prominent woman calling national games for a major men’s sport — one of the few in the booth, not limited to sideline reporter. It’s an ascension that seems to have happened blindingly fast, and yet it was also a slow and steady climb.
An Olympic gold medalist and the sport’s premier hitter, Mendoza found herself needing a new career when softball was dropped from the Summer Games. The Stanford alum joined ESPN in 2007 and didn’t give much thought to calling baseball until the following year, when Kruk took part in Women’s College World Series coverage.
The case — Garber v. Office of the Commissioner of Baseball — may not be the highest-profile lawsuit currently proceeding against MLB. But from the league’s perspective, it’s almost certainly the most important.
Long-time Fangraphs readers are probably already familiar with the Garber suit, as we’ve previously covered the case on a number of different occasions. By way of a brief recap, though, the lawsuit essentially alleges that MLB violates federal antitrust law by assigning its teams exclusive local broadcast territories (the same rules that also give rise to MLB’s infamous blackout policy).
Not only do the plaintiffs allege that the creation of these exclusive territories illegally prevents MLB teams from competing for television revenue in each others’ home markets, but they also contend the rules restrict teams from competing with the league itself in the national broadcast marketplace (preventing teams from signing their own national television contracts, for instance, or offering their own out-of-market pay-per-view services in competition with MLB Extra Innings and MLB.TV).
Thus, the Garber suit presents a direct challenge to MLB’s existing television business model, one that could revolutionize the way in which baseball is broadcast in the future.
It just so happens I enjoy watching a single team!
Specifically, in a recent court-filing in the Garber v. Office of the Commissioner of Baseball lawsuit – in which the plaintiffs are challenging various MLB broadcasting practices under federal antitrust law – MLB’s lawyers have indicated that changes are in store for MLB.TV in the coming year. As the league’s attorneys explain on Page 9 of the document available here:
“beginning next season MLB will make single-team, out-of-market streams available for purchase (alongside the out-of-market package) on MLB.TV.”
It’s not immediately clear if this means that fans will be able to purchase a season-long subscription giving them access to all of a single team’s games, or if MLB will instead be reintroducing a single-game purchase option for fans (MLB.TV allowed you to purchase single game plans when the service originally debuted more than a decade ago). However, considering that both the NBA and NHL have recently created season-long, single-team streaming packages for their fans, it would seem likely that MLB intends to do the same in 2016.
Of course, it remains to be seen just how much MLB plans to charge for a single-team streaming service. In the NHL’s case, a single-team package costs only about $25 less than the league-wide package.
After two years, Tom Verducci and Harold Reynolds are out of the Fox broadcast booth, and John Smoltz will the network’s lead game analyst, two people familiar with the plans told the Daily News. Smoltz and play-by-play man Joe Buck will be the new World Series team.
A Fox Sports spokesperson confirmed the change. An official announcement is expected later on Tuesday.
Following the departure of longtime analyst Tim McCarver after the 2013 World Series, Fox tapped Verducci, a highly respected baseball writer for Sports Illustrated, and Reynolds, a former player and an on-air personality for MLB Network. The three-man booth drew mixed reviews, and now Fox is making a change.
Some interesting stuff here on the Zobrist signing, when the Mets traded Dickey, and the twitterization of rumors.
Moments later, asked if the Mets would pursue a reunion with the star free agent Yoenis Cespedes, who became a fan favorite while slugging the team into the playoffs, Ricco says, “Right now, I would put it as unlikely that we would bring him back, but it’s still a possibility.”
A bell rings in my brain. I hear a headline. “Ricco: Mets ‘unlikely’ to sign Cespedes.” This is not a surprise, as the free-swinging 30-year-old is expected to seek a six-year contract, which would last well into his decline phase. What’s notable is that Ricco feels emboldened to say it publicly, more assuredly than he’s been in the past. The job this week is to lead, and dammit, he is going to push himself.
Pushing, stressing, working until you’re fried: That’s the Winter Meetings, for Ricco and pretty much everyone else. A palpable sense of energy courses through the air: a wired combo of working, schmoozing, stressing, drinking, then sleeping for four or five hours and waking up for more waiting, bragging, doubting and striving. That’s a big one here: striving. Everyone, no matter what they have achieved, is always striving, striving, striving. Players, reporters, front office workers, agents — all striving for something more: a richer contract, a bigger scoop, a better job, a stronger scotch, whatever. The Mets need that World Series feeling again, but everyone here needs something.
Phil Pepe, a longtime Daily News Yankee beat writer whose career covering New York sports spanned 50 years, died Sunday at the age of 80 at his home in Englewood, N.J., a family member told The News.
Pepe covered the Yankees for The News from 1968-1981 and wrote the lead game story for every World Series from 1969-81. In 1982, he succeeded Dick Young as The News’ sports columnist.
He left the paper in 1989 for WCBS radio, where he did morning sports — including his signature “Pep Talk” — for more than 15 years. He was also the director of broadcasting/radio analyst for the Class-A New Jersey Cardinals of the New York-Penn League for 12 seasons from 1994-2005.
He was the executive director of the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America for the past 21 years, having also served as the chapter’s chairman in 1975 and 1976. He attended every BBWAA awards dinner since 1962 and ran the event for more than two decades.
Can I still watch “Family Matters” reruns before games?
The Cubs are making $60 million to $70 million per season under their current TV contracts, a figure that is below market compared to other big markets like New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Dallas, and Philadelphia. However, the deal is still around the back end of the top-third in all of baseball. The Cardinals’ new billion dollar contract, which doesn’t kick in for a few more years, is set to pay the Cardinals an average sum roughly equivalent to that which the Cubs currently receive. A new television deal might solve some of the Cubs’ pre-existing problems, but it is those problems themselves that are keeping payroll down, not the Cubs’ current television contract.
The Cubs will wait a few more years before inking their deal. According to recent quotes from business operations president Crane Kenney, the Cubs will indeed start their own network in 2020, and believe the club can carry a network by themselves. There is some risk in waiting for 2020 to start their own network. For several years there has been a fear of the cable bubble bursting, and while the Dodgers might have set the mark a bit too high, teams that have negotiated deals since that time have still made out well. The Cubs could choose to renegotiate with Comcast, and much like the Cardinals deal, hedge their bets a bit on the future of cable television. Their current tack indicates that they still believe there will be a heavy market for their broadcasts in four years.
It’s easy to go through my Grantland favorites; roughly 60 percent of my brother’s emails to me are links from the site. I loved this story on how baseball reporters tiptoed around the steroid crisis, trying to figure out exactly how far they could go with their questions. Should be required reading for journalists on any beat.
–Leah Libresco, news writer
A good collection of stories new and old from Grantland’s short, sometimes glorious run. I hadn’t read a lot of these before.
Baseball brought big ratings to Fox Sports this season. MLB telecasts drew higher numbers on both Fox and FS1, while several Fox Sports regional networks finished No. 1 in primetime ratings in their respective markets.
Here’s the breakdown: MLB on Fox telecasts enjoyed a 22 percent boost in viewership, with an average audience of 2.2 million compared to last season’s 1.9 million. Baseball broadcasts on FS1 increased by 22 percent, jumping to an average of 504,000 from 413,000.
Perhaps more impressive is the success of baseball telecasts on Fox Sports regional networks, which ranked first in average primetime ratings in six markets. We already covered how successful ratings for Royals games were in Kansas City, coming off a World Series appearance and finishing with the best record in the American League this season. Fox Sports Kansas City enjoyed a household rating of 12.33, a 90 percent increase over last season. That includes a 13.0 household rating in primetime.
Ratings were also big in St. Louis, where Fox Sports Midwest averaged a 10.0 rating (including 10.8 in primetime) for Cardinals game broadcasts, jumping from a 7.9 mark last season. This year’s rating also beats out the 9.4 FS Midwest Cardinals games drew in 2010.
I hardly ever listen to the radio now. There was a time that when I was out of the house I’d listen to the game broadcast to keep up on the score. I don’t need to do that anymore. I have the MLB At Bat that I can use to follow the Red Sox *and* all the other games that are going on.
I also don’t listen to local sports talk on the radio. I can listen to MLB Radio on Sirius. MLB Radio isn’t perfect but the discussions and guest and better than the local stuff. If I am not driving, I can also follow the sport via the web on sites like this one.
When I’m home the MLB Network is often on the television and/or I’m on the Internet reading baseball content. There are also a lot of informative podcasts. I can literally watch any game I want to via MLB At Bat.
In other words, of all my options, radio is the least interesting or useful to me.
Jose Bautista has refused to do one-on-one interviews with Sportsnet for the past three months in protest of the broadcaster’s refusal to pay the cost of a designer suit purchased by rookie Devon Travis as part of a TV segment aired on Sportsnet on May 19.
Several industry sources said the league is drafting deal documents with Fox, which holds the local media rights to 15 MLB teams. An agreement to offer authenticated local streaming of live games is expected to be in place by the start of the 2016 season.
It was a significant shift in MLB’s negotiating position that led to the breakthrough with Fox, which has been in active negotiations with the league for several years over the streaming service. The Toronto Blue Jays are the only team now streaming live games locally.
MLB moved off of its insistence that it host local games through MLB.com, something league executives wanted so they could ensure the quality of the video streams is high. But that stance proved the biggest roadblock to a deal, as cable operators would have needed to share subscriber data with the league during the user authentication process, something they were not willing to do.
A couple of short stories about Asian pitchers and Irabu: I was announcing Yankee games in the mid-90s when I said over the air, “I wonder if we’ll ever see an Oriental position player in the Major Leagues?” Dion James was playing for the Yankees at the time, and told me about an exciting 19-year old named Ichiro Suzuki who had a chance to be the first. We all know that story. Big fan of Bernie Williams from watching Yankee games in Japan. Wears number 51 because of that.
So, I get a letter about a week later from an Asian baseball fan. Not a malicious letter but scolding me gently for referring to Asian players as “Oriental.” He said, “Noodles and rugs are Oriental, not people. We are Asians.” Fortunately for me, he put his phone number in the letter, so I called him.
We had a pleasant conversation and I told him I certainly didn’t intentionally say “Oriental’ as a slur or condescending remark. It was said innocently out of ignorance. He understood. I asked him if he would be watching the next game we televised. He said he would. He was a huge baseball fan and was complimentary of our telecasts on the MSG Network. I asked if he would please watch and listen in the top of the 4th inning. He said he would. I took the opportunity to clear up the Oriental/Asian situation.
...So, I’lll be keeping a close eye on Yu Darvish and see if he is finally the one to be able to challenge and dominate our bigger, more powerful big league hitters. For his and the Rangers’ sake, I hope he does. It will be good for the game and the Rangers profit and loss statement!
We release things drip by drip…and when I have my sewer bonds settlement statements ready for this year, I’ll release them!
Stuck at the unfortunate end of the debt-clogged sewer system of Jefferson County, Ala., you’ll find Houston Astros owner Jim Crane.
Fresh into his takeover of the Texas baseball team, Crane has been ordered by a bankruptcy judge to reveal details of his settlement with J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. over $35 million worth of sewer bonds that he bought from the investment bank four years ago—a personal investment that quickly turned to, er, garbage.
Those dirty details, which are not public, are what Jefferson County attorney are seeking amid their own fight with the bank over the complicated series of dealings that, with a little help from a corruption scheme that ensnared the county’s top elected leaders, left the county swimming in a pool of toxic debt.
Ultimately, the county—Alabama’s most populous with roughly 658,000 residents—filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, marking the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.
Crane said he got stuck with a bum deal, too, according to court documents filed in Texas state court.
If you heard a loud thumping noise a few minutes ago, that wasn’t your imagination. It was me bashing my head against the desk as I was reading Dan Shaughnessy’s latest opus. Like all Shaughnessy articles, he channels his most emotional nerves to convince us that the Red Sox ownership (or whomever his target du jour might be) is wronging us. That their “cheap” ways are depriving us of a championship that we’re entitled to experiencing. Clearly, he does it for attention and notoriety, and perhaps we should all be immune to his shtick by now. For some reason, I can’t let go.
...Terry Francona, Theo Epstein, Jonathan Papelbon, and Heidi Watney are all gone, and we just learned that Carl Crawford had surgery on his wrist, which isn’t going to make things easier for his big bounce-back season.
I can live with all of the above – even if we won’t have J.D. Drew to kick around anymore – but I can’t stand talk about payroll limits and luxury tax obligations.
While Heidi Watney’s presence will be missed, I’m not sure how this will impact the team’s on field performance. If anything, I think the horny old baseball writers, like Shaughnessy, will be the ones missing her most of all.
Crawford’s wrist injury probably won’t make his bounce back season any easier, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be successful. The good news is that only the cartilege was torn in the wrist. Had he broken a bone, the outlook on his season would’ve been much less rosy. Recovery from such a procedure typically lasts 6-8 weeks, which would put him about 2-4 weeks behind in terms of Spring Training readiness. He seems to be a pretty quick healer, so he could be back even sooner. I don’t see any reason to panic until we’re given an actually reason to do so.
Adds Maury…“Pass the popcorn. The static’s on (again)”
File this one in the “broken record” department: prepare for yet another season of MLB’s blackout policy remaining in place.
The reason for the broken record? This story has been written repeatedly for years. A source at MLB said that for all practical purposes, the matter will likely not be addressed for the upcoming season.
For the uninitiated, the question is, “Why should I be concerned?” That depends on whether you are, or planning to, purchase MLB Extra Innings or subscribe to MLB.TV.
In a nutshell, there are two ways you can be hit with the “blackout blues”. National broadcast partners FOX and ESPN have exclusivity agreements in which no matter where you live, games are blacked out on MLB Extra Innings and MLB.TV.
...And about the national blackout policy, any chance that happens soon? In speaking with sources close to the matter, when asked if the possibility it won’t be considered until contracts are renewed with ESPN and FOX, the reply was, “Probably.”
And if the Rangers aren’t going to sign Fielder, the Nationals have to be considered the frontrunner now. Who else is there? Any team planning to make a stealth run at him probably would not have risked waiting until late January to make its move. The Brewers and Mariners have been on the periphery, but not as involved as the Nationals. You never know, but it looks like the Fielder sweepstakes is the Nationals’ to lose.
The process has been fascinating, and it looks for now as if the Nationals have played it perfectly. They held firm at their price for Fielder, and with the apparent (and stunning) relative lack of interest in one of baseball’s great sluggers, the market has come to them. They let agent Scott Boras dictate the terms of the Jayson Werth negotiations last winter. The Lerners struck back this time. Or at least that’s the appearance right now.
In the background of their discussions with Fielder lies the Nationals’ under-construction television deal with MASN. Like the Rangers, the Nationals could soon be expecting more cash from their rights fees. The details are few, but the stakes are explained in the story from today’s paper, with help from Chuck Greenberg, an architect of the Rangers’ massive TV deal.
The Nationals, experts say, can expect enough new revenue from their renegotiated rights fees to pay for Fielder’s potential contract – and then some. Andrew Zimbalist, an economics professor and sports business expert, said signing Fielder could enhance the Nationals’ argument for higher rights fees from MASN.
“I think it would,” Zimbalist said. “Somebody like Fielder offers the possibility of not only the team being more competitive, but generating excitement in his own right.”
Brian Evans should have made the Basketball Hall of Fame before Jim Rice made the…huh? wha??
Boston Red Sox legend Jim Rice, a member of The Baseball Hall of Fame, has just completed a new TV commercial which will promote the new single “At Fenway,” now on sale at Best Buy and Amazon.com.
The song, written and recorded by crooner Brian Evans, was produced by multiple Grammy Award winning producer Narada Michael Walden…
After debuting at #3 on Amazon.com, astonishing given the single was released in November, during football season, the commercial was filmed last Monday at The Groveland Diner in Groveland, Massachusetts.
...“Red Sox Nation is everywhere. This has truly been a D2F (Direct to Fan) campaign at this point, and we’re blown away at the response to the song,” says Evans.
ESPN will air some non-Tebow related programming this summer.
ESPN also will show the opening-night telecast on April 4 between the Cardinals and Miami at the new Marlins Park.
Former Red Sox manager Terry Francona will debut in the Sunday night booth alongside play-by-play commentator Dan Shulman and analyst Orel Hershiser. Play-by-play man Jon Sciambi and analyst Chris Singleton again will call the games on ESPN Radio…..
April 8 ChiSox at Rangers
April 15 Angels at Yankees
April 22 Yankees at Red Sox
April 29 Rays at Rangers
May 6 Phillies at Nationals
May 13 Angels at Rangers
May 20 Cardinals at Dodgers
May 27 Nationals at Braves
June 3-July 1 TBD
July 8 Yankees at Red Sox
July 15 Cardinals at Reds
July 22-Sept. 23 TBD
As I said yesterday…“The ONLY downside to Clubhouse Confidential is the nightly commercial for Intentional Talk.”
I’ll be appearing on Clubhouse Confidential on the MLB Network. We are taping this afternoon and I’m pretty sure it will be broadcast tonight. The show typically airs 5:30pm and 7:30pm ET and then probably 8 more times after that. We’ll be talking baseball-reference.com and some other stuff.
I’m looking forward to meeting their crew and I’ve been incredibly impressed with how they are promoting sabermetrics on the show. If you are a stathead, it is time well spent.