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Monday, July 05, 2021

Column: Once COVID restrictions end, Padres broadcasters should get on the road again

Why are Don Orsillo, Mark Grant, Jesse Agler and Tony Gwynn Jr. left to cross fingers that directors, producers and camera crews in road markets deliver the right vantage point at the right time to cleanly call games for one of the most anticipated seasons in the history of the franchise?

For a minority of teams, the answer rests with baseball’s COVID-19 protocols that require teams to reach the 85 percent vaccination threshold before restrictions loosen.

MLB spokesman John Blundell said this week that once that number is met, the league is “encouraging home clubs to make accommodations for visiting club broadcasters” while “it is up to the individual club to determine how those broadcasters travel to (and) from the visiting ballpark.”

The Padres are one of seven teams short of the standard, MLB confirmed.

Padres CEO Erik Greupner said his team is “right at the cusp” as it waits on a player or two to reach that 14-day mark after second shots. The situation remains fluid, though, because players come and go on the 26- and 40-man rosters.

Greupner emphasized MLB protocols, to the club’s thinking, are the main obstacle standing in the way of in-person, road coverage.

“The last thing the Padres are going to do is pinch a penny when we could be sending our broadcasters,” he said. “We’re not going to do that.”

That sounds like Agler and Gwynn could be headed out soon. But why is regional rights holder Bally Sports, under the umbrella of TV giant Sinclair, saying it’s possible none of the broadcasters among its 16 MLB markets will return this season?

Fair question. The unspoken answer, without much doubt: The company that shares revenue and expenses with teams it covers saves a blizzard of bucks across the fiefdom.

Why not roll the dice to learn if it can get away with a subtle dilution of the product without stirring up too many hornets? Go ahead and dip a toe in the water to see if viewers notice or care. If there’s no squeak coming from the wheel, maybe it’s a long-term cost savings opportunity?


RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: July 05, 2021 at 09:21 AM | 5 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: broadcasting, covid

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   1. Dag Nabbit at Posted: July 05, 2021 at 10:38 AM (#6027676)
Wait - I thought the Padres were the 23rd team to cross over the threshold. There was a story in the Athletic about 2 weeks ago where the GM said their 85%-ification was imminent and should be done in a few days. When MLB announced a 23rd team crossed over a few days later, I assumed it was San Diego.

So who is it then. Here are the other teams I haven't seen any news about being over 85%: Red Sox, Royals, Mariners, Phillies, Mets, Cubs, Diamondbacks. I guess one of them got over.

I know it isn't the Cubs. There have been recent-ish stories on the Phillies and Red Sox about they're not making progress towards 85%. Earlier this year Mariners manager Scott Servais said he didn't think they'd get there. Nothing too recent on the Mets. Nothing at all on the Royals or D-backs and vaccination compliance. But one of these teams must have recently gone over 85%.
   2. pthomas Posted: July 05, 2021 at 10:58 AM (#6027680)
If baseball announcers talk when I have the sound muted, do they make a noise?
This is another of the behaviors Covid restrictions have exposed as worthless. Why travel around mindlessly when you can do this in your living room. Maybe...just announcer might start asking the real question: why do baseball telecasts focus on heads and nosehairs?
   3. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: July 05, 2021 at 11:25 AM (#6027684)

I don't know that the announcers need to travel with the teams, but I think they prefer it, and it makes for a slightly better product. The Mets booth didn't seem to like it when the team was out West for a road trip and they had to be in an empty Citi Field for a 10:30 pm EST start time. That being said, they could probably have easily set up a booth somewhere that wasn't in a cavernous empty stadium for the announcers to do the road games.

The one thing that has been noticeable is the lack of a road team video feed. The road announcers will want to see a replay of something (was that ball really fair? Did that batter really go around on that swing?) and the home team feed simply doesn't show it because their crew isn't focused on that play.
   4. crict Posted: July 06, 2021 at 09:28 AM (#6027794)
This has been the price to pay to watch baseball in French since the Expos have moved out of Montreal: Quebec sports channel buys feed, has a team of announcers in a studio somewhere providing comments in French. They don't control the feed, so a bit problematic when they show someone in the crowd, cut to announcers in booth, etc. But overall it's acceptable. They usually go on location only for the World Series. (Same is done in a bunch of sports: tennis, formula 1, soccer, etc.)
   5. Jeff Francoeur's OPS Posted: July 06, 2021 at 02:59 PM (#6027884)
I would say that for some, traveling with the team, etc., is a fringe benefit of the job.

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