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Volume 24 No. 157
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Ripken Ventures Outside The Studio, Into The Booth For TBS' Wild Card Coverage

TBS analyst Cal Ripken Jr. will make his postseason debut in the broadcast booth for Friday's Orioles-Rangers Wild Card game, and the Baseball HOFer said the move came about through "a quirky sort of way," according to Michael Hiestand of USA TODAY. Ripken said as he would watch games on Sunday afternoons from the TBS studio, he would "sit in the green room and chatter about all kinds of things that wouldn't make our post-game show -- which is about soundbites and moving fast." Hiestand notes TBS MLB Producer Tim Kiely "thought Ripken's chatter deserved a broader audience." He put Ripken, with Ernie Johnson and John Smoltz, on a regular-season Yankees-Orioles game "as a test -- which led to that trio being assigned to playoff games." Ripken said, "I know I'm not polished or experienced in the booth. But I'm a very analytical person and player, and maybe that can come out more than in the studio." Meanwhile, Hiestand notes MLB Network will add Phillies SS Jimmy Rollins and retired MLBer Omar Vizquel as "guest playoff analysts" (USA TODAY, 10/5).

: Turner Sports Senior VP/Production Craig Barry said of TBS' postseason broadcasts will "have some new technology." The studio show will have "some holographic pitching technology," while a "new predictive game application" will be available. Barry: "We'll also increase our super slo-mo cameras in every broadcast to double what we have, so we'll have three in the division series and six on the championship series. So we're excited" (Albany TIMES UNION, 10/5). Meanwhile, in N.Y., Phil Mushnick writes TBS analyst Joe Simpson, who will call the Reds-Giants NLDS, "shows up prepared and alert without delivering lectures." Simpson is "breezy and easy, ... a stranger you would hope to have seated beside you at a game" (N.Y. POST, 10/5).

BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY: In N.Y., Bob Raissman writes the Yankees "are the only marquee attraction, the only entry with legitimate ratings juice" in the postseason. While this "provides comfort for TBS and Fox, the two networks benefiting most from the Yankees’ presence, the suits are holding their breath until they see pinstriped uniforms in the World Series." The networks "will pay gratuitous lip service to the other clubs, but if the Yanks are ousted in the ALDS, someone better keep these honchos away from their high-rise windows." TBS is "guaranteed step one, the ALDS," and is "positioned to ride the Yankees through the ALCS" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 10/5). 

BIRD WATCHING: In St. Louis, Dan Caesar notes with MLB Network airing LDS games Sunday and Wednesday, there will be "two postseason games on an outlet a lot of people don't have." Unlike the NFL, "which has the games on its NFL Network outlet also carried on an over-the-air station in the markets of the competing teams, MLB does not have such an arrangement despite having nearly the same number of subscribers as NFL Network." However, Caesar writes this is "not a knock on MLB Network's product, just its distribution," as the net "does a superb job of covering the sport and those who buy it figure to receive high-quality productions" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/5). In L.A., Tom Hoffarth writes MLB may have "every logical business reason to want to put playoff games on ... MLB Network, but don't expect a warm embrace from fans" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 10/5).