MLB Network Breaking Out New Features For LDS Broadcasts
The next two days mark the biggest dates on MLB Network's calendar, as it prepares to exclusively televise two LDS games for the ninth consecutive year. Matt Vasgersian, Jim Kaat, Buck Showalter and Tom Verducci will call Marlins-Braves Game 2 at 2:08pm ET today live from Houston, while Vasgersian will be joined by John Smoltz and Jon Morosi for Padres-Dodgers Game 3 at 9:08pm tomorrow night live from Arlington. MLB Network today will utilize "Speed Cam," which made its MLB debut on an MLB Network Showcase game telecast during the regular season. The camera will be placed on tracks on top of the first base dugout, allowing it to move along at a speed in excess of the fastest runner going from home to first. The angle will provide fans with a stronger sense of the speed of the game by providing a field-level camera shot of the action. "We first tried Speed Cam at a college game last year and got some pretty cool responses," MLB Network Senior VP/Production Dave Patterson said, "I liken it to the camera they use for the sprinting at the Olympics where it goes down the line. And we got some really different looks from the first base angle. It has been reviewed so far positively."
HELPING CREATE ATMOSPHERE: Sources throughout MLB acknowledge that it is an added challenge to capture the suspense and drama of the postseason when telecasting games in empty ballparks. But Patterson thinks the Speed Cam and other camera angles will help. Additionally, he believes having announcers on site, versus calling the game remotely, also will help. That is because announcers "will tell you that it's a different feel seeing the ball come off the bat and it's harder to call off the monitor because you can't judge it." Patterson: "The empty stadiums will definitely be a challenge for us, but I think our announcers are up for it."
STAFFING SHOULDER PROGRAMMING: MLB Network features live pre and postgame coverage on "MLB Tonight" for every postseason game, including on-site reporting. The network's regular season morning program, "MLB Central," will air through the LCS for the first time. MLB Network Senior VP/Operations & Engineering Susan Stone said the number of staffers on site for the two games is reduced by roughly one-third from what it typically would be in any other year. "We are keeping our graphics department back in Secaucus," she said. "You just want to mitigate risk. The fewer number of people you have traveling, the better you're able to control your environment. Especially during a division series game, we work very closely with Fox and share a lot of resources and technical personnel, so that's helpful."