How I Prepare to Call a Game: Texas vs. Oklahoma (ESPNU)Posted: April 3, 2010
Content is king when talking about baseball. Preparation is the foundation for every comment I will make during this game. My guess is that I will use around 10% of the information that I have studied.
Read every single game article you can find on both of the teams. This helps you understand how the teams are playing, what the coaches are thinking, and what we can expect from the match up.
From my reading I know that these two teams are built around pitching. Oklahoma was said to have a big offense, but Coach Galloway has continued to speak about his pitching being their strength. Coach Garrido of Texas has said the same thing. Texas hasn’t given up a run in 2 games and they have been playing very good defense.
Look at the statistics of both teams. Speaking on television doesn’t allow you to get too in depth with statistics that fans don’t understand. So instead, I will look to use traditional stats and apply some more detailed analysis that viewers can understand. For example, I will look at the number of at bats, hits, extra base hits, steals, walks, and strike outs as my base of reference for this game.
Interview the coaches. I like to listen and see if I can envision his view and opinions. This will help me better understand the team that he is coaching. I will also ask them about the opposing team and see if there are any ideas or keys that he has picked up.
Watch how the players carry themselves. I like watching how a player carries himself. I don’t link their body language to their ability in the game. My goal is to see if there is some sort of personality trait that I can draw on so that my comments can add a humanness to the game.
Once I have done these things I stop thinking about everything. Since I have read everything I can, looked at statistics, talked to their coaches, and watched their players, it is important to just call what is going on in the game. You can think of it as studying over a period of time vs. studying the night before.
In the Booth
The people over at ESPN taught me a really important key that helps me comment. You may recognize these statements.
1. What’s my point?
2. Why does it matter?
I will have these 2 sentences written down on note cards right in front of me. I will also have the word “absolutely”.
“Absolutely” happens to be a word that I say a lot on air, so by bringing it to my attention, I will be able to practice using other words.
Tom Feuer, is an Executive Producer for Fox Sports. I have met with him and asked him for advice. Last year I did a game and said “whatnot.” I didn’t realize that. After Tom told me that I eliminated it from my commentating. There is nothing more important than asking for help to be better through constructive critique. This isn’t about pride, this is about being as good as you can be and you can’t have that if everyone is telling you what you want to hear.
It’s Ok to be Quiet
Sometimes there isn’t a reason to comment. During those times I just watch. My goal is always to pack a punch so that people listen to my comments. If I am talking the whole time viewers will not listen.
Talk to the Truck
My latest practice is talking back to the producer in the truck. This is what can make a broadcast amazing. We have headphones on and it is connected to a box with 2 buttons. One button says, “Cough” and the other is the “Talk Back” button. If we need to cough we push that button and it mutes our microphone. If we press “Talk Back” it goes to the video truck outside the stadium. This is the control center and you would be shocked to see all that is going on in there.
In my ear is the producer. He will send us information about the game, tell us what clip is coming, and count us “in and out” of the breaks by counting backwards like you see in the movies. If I see something, I can push that button and ask if we got a specific shot of a play. The better we are at communicating together, the better the broadcast will be. My job is to communicate everything to my producer and he then guides me through the game.
This is so fun I can’t even tell you. I love teaching the game to viewers and I love learning. Every game teaches me new ways to be better. My goal is to always remember how blessed I am that I get a chance to comment on a game that I love. This is such a blessing and I hope you get to feel that from watching and hearing me comment.
When the game is done and I am back at home the real work begins. I will review the game over and over to see where I could be better. For example, earlier this year I kept on talking and stopping right before the pitch was made. It was choppy and I didn’t like it. So today I will focus on making my statements flow better. My hope is that you don’t even notice me until I show you something you didn’t see.
Time to Go
I am sitting in a Starbucks and it is 4 hours before game time. My homework is done. Once I finish this paragraph I can go back to the hotel and get dressed. I like wearing suits because it lets me communicate to you something about me. But today we will be wearing Polo’s. I will still wear a suit to the park though because I believe that dressing is a major part of presentation.
My career was ended earlier than I would have liked, but I am so thankful that I got a chance to play Major League Baseball. When I was younger I couldn’t sleep the night before a big league game. There was a nervousness and excitement as I drove to the games. I have that same excitement right now! God is good. Happy Easter!