MLB Broadcasts Experience Difficulties Amid Pandemic Changes
MLB Giants announcers Jon Miller and Dave Flemming called Thursday's Giants-Dodgers game "as if they were overlooking Chavez Ravine, but there were rough moments because the broadcasters were at the mercy of a foreign camera crew," according to John Shea of the S.F. CHRONICLE. MLB this season is restricting the number of cameras used in game broadcasts and announcers are not traveling to road games this season. Miller, who was calling the game for KNBR-AM, said, "It's unnerving because when the ball is hit, they don't show where it's hit." Shea notes the cameras one time failed to follow the action, and Miller on-air said, "I guess he hit a groundball to somebody." Flemming quickly noted, "The app says he hit it to Justin Turner at third base." Shea notes ESPN was "showing a commercial when Mike Yastrzemski opened the game by reaching on a fielding error and also missed the first pitch in the second inning" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/24). In Philadelphia, David Murphy reviewed ESPN’s broadcast of Yankees-Nationals and writes heading into the game, he was “aware of the unique visual challenges that baseball and ESPN’s production crew would face, but I don’t think I grasped the level of synchrony that typically exists between the sport’s usual backdrop and the game” (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 7/24).
Gotta say, the way FOX is integrating virtual fans into the return of baseball is pretty incredible. 😮 pic.twitter.com/l9i6koHetj— Cristian Nyari (@Cnyari) July 24, 2020
OVER THE TOP? In Chicago, Jeff Agrest noted Fox will debut the use of virtual fans on Saturday when it broadcasts a tripleheader. It “looks better than an empty stadium, despite it being somewhat cartoonish,” though whether it “flies with fans is another matter (CHICAGO SUN-TIMES, 7/23). Fox Sports Exec Producer & Exec VP/Head of Production & Operations Brad Zager said network officials "aren't trying to fool anyone" with the virtual fans. But in N.Y., Phil Mushnick asks, "Then why bother? Why add another artificial distraction?" Viewers at home "know there are no fans there," as they "don't need cardboard cutouts, out-of-sync piped-in artificial crowd noise ... and split-screen remotes to show announcers talking Zoom from elsewhere" (N.Y. POST, 7/24).