Spring is finally here and that means baseball & Softball season. It is particularly an exciting time as I have been asked by Georgia Tech to be a fill in broadcaster for their ESPN3 games. I had the great opportunity to sit next to “The Voice of the Yellow Jackets” Brandon Gaudin for our first broadcast on March 6 for Georgia Tech and Notre Dame. It was a fantastic experience and the Director, Andy Blanton, does an exceptional job. I will also be broadcasting baseball for Kennesaw State on their internet broadcasts at ksuowls.com. I decided to publish some tools that I use as a broadcaster to prepare for the game and that I use during the game.
First, preparation for baseball is no different from any other sport, except the amount of players on the team is significantly more than basketball and volleyball. Therefore, check out the team’s stats and pick five players from the field that are leading the team in key categories, such as: Batting Average, Home Runs, RBI, Extra Base Hits, Walks, and yes even Strikeouts. It comes in handy when a player is leading the team in HR, but he strikes out a lot. It gives you, the broadcaster, the chance to set up the dramatic story of the pitcher vs hitter.
Then look at the scheduled starting pitchers. College baseball teams generally have a set rotation that includes Friday, Saturday, and Sunday starters. Friday night starters generally being the best thrower on the team. Then the weekday starters may rotate between several pitchers as well. Find out all you can about the starting pitcher through the SID or speaking to the coaching staff. Perfect Game is also a huge resource I use. Input a pitchers name and you will see his playing career from the time he was in high school. http://www.perfectgame.com
Finally, don’t be scared to ask to speak to the head coaches. Any face-to-face time with a college head coach is time to learn about the team, the players, and even the coach himself. Why is the coach limping when he walked out to the mound? Because, he recently had knee surgery and you found that out by speaking with him. It just gives you an edge. If you are doing a neutral broadcast, like an ESPN production, make sure you attempt to speak with both coaches. It is plain ole professional courtesy.
Another resource I use is NCAA.com for national polls and ranking. When you go to NCAA.com and select a sport, click the Statistics link at the top of the banner. It will take you to national stats rankings and will generally show the top 10 in key categories. But that isn’t useful unless you are broadcasting for two teams in the top ten of every category, so scroll to the bottom of the page. There you will find a “Custom Reporting” section that allows you to research a specific team. Once you select a team it will give you a summary of the team and individuals and how they are ranked in their conference and nationally. It is a huge resource in show prep. You can view a complete game summary and print it as a PDF. I have attached an example below.
Now that you have competed all of your show prep, it is time for the broadcast. I have developed my own routine pre-game and I use a custom score card to help me know who is in the field and batting. Make sure you arrive early enough to get organized and have time to prepare your score sheet. You will get lost and fast if you can’t score the game as it moves along. Granted, there are online live stats at most college baseball events now, but the moment you rely on them the system will go down and you’ll be sweating.
Once the game is underway it is smooth sailing. Remember to stay organized throughout the broadcast. Do this by bringing what you need for an organized broadcast. Here is a list of items I bring to every broadcast. I consider it my “Go Kit.”
Power Strip (You always need more outlets)
Laptop or Tablet (Using a cell phone is tedious and too small)
Cloth (To wipe down my screen or the media table)
Menthol Throat Drops (Not to use during the broadcast, but pre-game if necessary)
Pad of paper (taking notes throughout the broadcast helps you stay organized and recall key points in the game)
The last thing I would have is the first thing you need for any sport. The rule book! If you don’t know the rules you will not be an effective broadcaster. Put your nose in these materials and familiarize yourself with the rule book.