Friday, June 15, 2007

Working solo vs. partnering up

The first game of a road trip is always an adjustment because I broadcast all nine innings, solo, for road games. For home games, I do six innings of play-by-play (always with somebody in the booth with me), and two innings sitting "second chair."

Must say I'm very happy with this schedule. I get to learn how to work solo, and how to work with somebody. After all, if I ever reach the majors -- or I should say, when I return to the majors -- there's a very high chance that I'll have one (if not two) analysts in the booth with me. Yet, there's times you need to be able to carry a broadcast solo.

We're nearly halfway into the season, and I've realized that I definitely prefer working with somebody. Main reason is because I think I'm just a social butterfly who prefers to be around other people. But also, it's damn awkward spending three hours basically talking to yourself. A lot more exhausting. Harder to come up with something to fill the time between the action, especially when the game is lopsided.

The key, of course, is who your partner is. If the two people are fighting over the microphone, it's a disaster. The second guy needs to let the broadcast "breathe" by picking the right time to talk, and then knowing when to ... well, shut up.

I try to randomly listen to a different minor league broadcast every game, just to get a feel for how other broadcasters approach their craft, and compare that to my own style. There's always something you can learn, either good or bad, from others. I heard one game when the "color analyst" felt the need to analyze every pitch and say something between every pitch. It sounded horrendous.

Brian VanderBeek, our buddy from The Modesto Bee, is really good at knowing when to talk and when to let me do my thing. I think Greg Young and I have developed good chemistry as well. Greg will rarely say anything the first inning of a game, just so I can set the stage and get into the flow of the game. I try to do the same for him, when he takes over in the third inning.

Beek joins us for the middle innings, and that's when it becomes story time. Sometimes, it's like we're hosting a talk show within a baseball game. I try to have 1 or 2 topics to discuss within the flow of the game, which have to do with what's happening with the team or around baseball. I'm sure there's been a couple times we ventured too far from the game, but I don't think we do it often. Besides, you can't know what's too far over the line, until you cross that line.

For the last three innings, it depends on the game. If the game is over, Greg and I will be more chatty. If it's close, I try to stay out of Greg's way in the seventh inning. Besides, he's looking to build his demo reel, and every inning is potentially the inning that will land him his next job -- so I need to stay out of his way.

For the last two innings, Greg is usually frantically putting together highlights for our post-game show, or he's thinking of questions to ask our postgame guest. So he's not on the air much anyway.

I can honestly say there hasn't been one time, in nearly 70 games, that I've wished my broadcast partners would shut up. That's quite an accomplishment. And trust me, I'd write it, if I felt it.

Overall, I'm damn proud of our broadcasts. Between having three voices, and mixing the time spent focusing squarely on the game and branching out, I think there's great variety to the broadcast. I might not be Vin Scully, and Beek might not be Tim McCarver ... well, actually, thank goodness Beek is not Tim McCarver.

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