SBD/March 31, 2014/MLB Season Preview

Tom Verducci Discusses New Role In Fox Booth, Impact Of Replay On Broadcasts

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Verducci said that his roles at MLB Network and SI likely will not change
With the new MLB season comes a revamped look to Fox’ top broadcast booth, as Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci are replacing Tim McCarver as analysts to go with play-by-play announcer Joe Buck. Reynolds and Verducci both have experience in the analyst role, but calling the All-Star Game and World Series proves to be somewhat of a transition. Verducci recently caught up with THE DAILY to talk about his new role, how the implementation of instant replay will influence his call and how MLB can grow interest among America’s youth.

Q: What is your feeling about this new gig with Fox? Any trepidation at all?
Verducci: I’m really excited about it. I get excited about every baseball season around this time but especially around this year. Being in the booth with Joe and Harold, it’s just going to be really fun for me. It’s nice going in because I’ve known both of those guys for a long time, and with Harold, we’ve both had a lot of reps together both on and off camera watching games and highlights.

Q: What kind of transition do you expect in moving to Fox’ top broadcast team, more specifically on a three-man team?
Verducci: For me, I have some experience doing this. I’ve been doing games on Fox for the last two years in a two-man booth and I’ve done games on MLB Network going back to ’09. I feel like I’ve got a lot of good reps to rely on. I think a three-man booth certainly is different than a two-man booth, but for me, I love the process of preparing for games as much as doing the games themselves. That’s not going to change. I think being able to be in a booth without having a player next to me the last couple years will prepare me for this year when I’ll have Harold next to me.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish in this role?
Verducci: I just want the viewer to have a very informative and entertaining listen. I want them to feel like they’ve pulled up a chair right next to us. I hope to bring to the telecast what I call “buddy information” -- where you hear something and maybe the next day you say to your buddy, “Hey, I heard something about this player or this team,” and they pass it on by word of mouth.

Q: How opinionated do you plan on being on issues within the game?
Verducci: I don’t think there are boundaries here. When there are instances where it’s called for, I’m not afraid to give my opinion on a player making a mistake or when a manager -- where I think he should have tried something he didn’t. I don’t think there is anything that’s off limits.

Q: Will your role at SI/MLB Network change at all?
Verducci: I don’t think they’re going to change all that much. I’ll still be at SI and still will be appearing on MLB Network. Last year, I did do 18 games on Fox on Saturdays and my schedule this year will be about the same in terms of the workload. So in terms of that -- I don’t anticipate it’s going to change that much.

Q: How will the implementation of instant replay change the way you call a game?
Verducci: No one is really certain how it’s going to play out. I love the fact that we have replay, but I also understand it’s our first year and we’re not going to have a perfect system on Opening Day. It is a work in progress and I think we’ll all have to deal with the little glitches that are bound to crop up. But in general, I like it because besides getting the call right, I think it really introduces another element of drama and strategy to a baseball game.

Q: Will the game lose any baseball purists as fans because of replay implementation?
Verducci: If you like your managers like Earl Weaver and Billy Martin kicking dirt and throwing hats, I’m afraid that may become a lost art. … That has been a colorful part of the game that I think people will miss. As long as we don’t have robots behind the plate calling balls and strikes, I think the purists are going to be ok with it.

Q: What can MLB do to increase interest in baseball among America’s youth?
Verducci: One of the keys for baseball is the ballpark experience. It’s still the best place to bring a family, and I think baseball has to hammer that home. When the weather is nice, you can get out to the park for a reasonable price with your whole family. There are a lot of things to do at a ballpark other than just watch a game.
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