Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The inevitable rut

The past few games I've felt like the broadcasts were ... well, not bad. Just not great. Perhaps it's an inevitable rut from doing so many. Perhaps it's not coincidence my rut arrived at the same time as the team's hitting rut. The games haven't been very interesting. Quite boring, truth be told. I know it's my job to make them interesting, but it's tough when the storyline becomes the same.

It leaves me with a few options.

1. Rip the team's offense. Not going to do that.
2. Neglect the team and talk about other stuff. Don't want to do that.
3. Turn into a homer who is cheering/urging the offense on.

The last is the lesser of three evils. Being a homer is a very, veryyyyy fine line. Talked with my program director about this, and he reminded me of the audience.

I'll paraphase his advice: this isn't the majors; it's still A-ball; the only people listening are the season ticket holders, host families, relatives and friends, and diehard baseball fans who just love any baseball on the radio. They aren't exactly looking for a down-the-middle, ESPN Sunday Night Baseball broadcast.

It's funny, one of his other pieces of advice was, if a certain player is really slumping and gets a hit, it's alright to say, "there you go (insert name)". I laughed because I did exactly that last night. Travis Becktel was in a 12-for-115 slump. When he singled, "there you go" might have been my exact words. In fact, in my excitement for the kid coming through, I called it an RBI single immediately.

Problem was, the runner hadn't scored. In fact, the runner was only about one-third of the way home. Luckily, the runner scored. In my call, I pretended like I never said "RBI single" as I described the close play at the plate. As I looked at my partner Greg Young, he gave me a "that was close" look, so I decided to just talk about it on the air. I said how I was so excited for Travis that I gave him the RBI wayyyyyy before he had it. Probably a mistake on my part, but I hope it's because my heart was in the right place.

Again, being a homer is a very fine line. The overwhelming majority of your audience wants your team to win, so you should speak to them like a fan. The old journalist inside me wants to stay more objective, but one of the things that I really like about this career switch is that I don't have to be objective anymore. It's fun to get fired up when your team does something well.

Of course, when your team is struggling, then it's a struggle balancing between being honest, being supportive, being excited (even when there's nothing to be excited over), and still sounding genuine about it.

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