ESPN Gears Up For Bulk Of MLB Wild Card; Playoffs Back On ABC
ESPN will carry seven of MLB's eight first-round Wild Card playoff series on its channels starting today, and play-by-play announcers "will be in studios in Bristol or Charlotte," while analysts other than Alex Rodriguez "will work from home," according to Neil Best of NEWSDAY. Some reporters, such as Marly Rivera, "will be on site." TBS has Blue Jays-Rays, but the other seven best-of-three series are on ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC, with the broadcast network carrying playoff baseball for the first time since '95. ESPN Senior VP/Production & Remote Events Mark Gross said that the net is "ready for the challenge," and that ESPN’s "understanding of remote coverage from empty stadiums benefitted in two key ways from the KBO games it began showing from Korea in May." One was the "logistics of having announcers and guests scattered around the country and world." The other was the "use of enhanced audio." The MLB Wild Card round begins with four games today, eight tomorrow and "potentially another eight on Thursday" (NEWSDAY, 9/29).
GETTING THE WORD OUT: ESPN's Gross: "We’re going to be really aggressive with the bottom line. We’ll be aggressive on the screen in the upper right, letting people know the scores of in-progress games and where those games can be seen. We’ll be aggressive on our scoreboard bug so people will know that it’s a best-of-three series. ... We're going to try to teach you a new playoff format for baseball. We still need to walk people through it" (John Ourand, SBJ Media).