The Review

What is My Point?

If I do not get accurate critique from my performance, I will not get better.  This isn’t about ego’s, it is about wanting to be great.

Why Does it Matter?

I want to be great.  You cannot be great if you aren’t willing to work at it.  If I don’t become better at broadcasting then I will not get another job.  It is about desire and commitment.

Start with the Good

I thought the middle innings from the 3rd through the 8th went really well. The game was moving well and Dan McGloughlin was “teeing” me up with “inside the game” points.

We got a great opportunity to explain sacrifice bunting that I loved.  These are the opportunities to really teach the game to fans.

Then the Bad…

The “open” is the shot with Dan and myself giving you an introduction of the game.  I felt like my comments were generic.  The “open” is tough because you are trying to deliver a small powerful punch, and if you aren’t covering the team every single game you really have to dig to find information.  I felt like the only area I could comment on was with Texas’ previous game’s scoring.  We were going to concentrate so much on pitching during the game that I wanted to use something that wasn’t going to be said 50 times.

I need to be more concise with my comments.  I found myself searching for words a couple times in an attempt to be concise, but I couldn’t think of the right word to describe my thought.

I felt like I didn’t have energy at the end of the game.  We were trying so hard to deliver content and it really took it out of me at the end.

How am I Going to Get Better?

When I get home I will look at the video and watch it for the first time.  I will take a bunch on notes, but my comments will only be positive.  Here is an example:

Let’s say that I didn’t like the way I presented a point during the game.  Instead of saying, “Didn’t do blank.”  I will write down.  “Make sure that you do (write something positive).”

There is enough negative and negative isn’t an answer.  I need to have comments that will teach me how to be better.

Practice

Once I have identified what I want to work on I will practice at home.  If my point wasn’t clear in the video I will think about the situation on the field for a moment.  Think about what I want to say, and then practice saying that out-loud.

I will also sit in front of a video camera and practice looking into the camera while I speak.  When I am practicing I will try as best as I can to replicate a real life scenario.  Here is how I do that:

I read a couple articles on a baseball team that I am not familiar with.  I will take a stopwatch and give myself 10 min to figure out what to say.  There will be 2 comments for about 15 seconds each.  One about the home team and one about the visiting.
How is My Practice Fitting into My Goal

My niche is teaching the game of baseball to the fans and being accessible.  Whenever I practice, I have to make sure that my attempts to be better in presentation are not at the expense of content.  The goal is to work efficiently.  Doing thousands of reps in practice doesn’t mean that you are getting better.  You are only getting better if you are doing it right every time.
Listen

The last area I check is with the viewers.  You may have noticed that I am trying to get feedback from those who saw the game.  Since you are the audience, it makes sense to me to listen to what I do well and where I need to improve.  After that I ask viewers questions to make sure I understand their critique completely.
Once all of the information has been gathered and all of the practice is done I am done and ready for the next game!

49 Comments on “The Review”

  1. B johnson says:

    Your blog is very interesting.

  2. Mike says:

    I only caught a couple of innings of the game but I did enjoy your discussion of the sacrifice bunting. But I did not really listen long enough to give a good critique. To tell you the truth, I usually compare all broadcasters to Jim Deshaies. I enjoy the way he describes the game with alot of insight and humor. I think if you can draw the audience in with excitement and enthusiasm as well as knowledge of the game, then you will have a great career as a broadcaster.

  3. Randall says:

    Hey Morgan,

    I did not get to catch the broadcast, but will try to catch the next one. Thanks for the insight into the preparation! I find it very interesting.

    Oh, were you able to get a picture with Bob Stoops?

  4. morineko says:

    I did notice your focus on content. (Unfortunately I wasn’t able to watch the later innings of the game, only the first two.) I agree with your self-critique of the first few innings; we kind of went over that on Twitter.

    I didn’t notice any content issues with your open, to be honest–or perhaps, if you felt your comments were too generic, that you’re trying to hold yourself to a higher standard than the run of the mill broadcaster. Not going to name any names here, but I watch and listen to a whole bunch of different broadcasters in all sports and there are a lot of them who really don’t make the effort to go beyond the superficial and traditional. From what I could tell, you really did make the effort but what you’re trying to do is very, very unusual.

    (You need to appear more confident in public! But that also comes with practice.)

    • I don’t think that the usual coverage is very accurate so I don’t want sound the same. My belief is that fans will follow the game more if we teach you what we see on the bench.

      I will work on being more confident in public, but I don’t really know what you mean.

      Morgan

  5. Cory says:

    Hey Morgan,

    Big fan of you and the blog from what I’ve read so far. I remember watching you when you played Double-A ball for the Round Rock Express. I have a home run ball you hit to the left field berm at Dell Diamond (I was baseball buddies with Keith Ginter before that game.) Anyway, you have a good thing going hear with some great insight on the game. Keep up the good work!

  6. David G says:

    So glad I found your blog from MLBTR. Being a huge baseball fan, I enjoy reading your “inside the game” perspective.

    I only saw/listened to portions of the UT/OU game. I enjoyed the commentary and know all us fans can learn a lot from you if we listen.

    My only critique or comment is minor and relates to comments made that seemed more accurate for the pro/mlb game versus the college game we were watching. Specific example: There was a graphic about the “third game of a series” and how the hits/runs were significantly higher for that game. One of you commented about how the teams make adjustments and that was why. This is definitely true for the pro/mlb game. But, I would say that in the college game it has a lot more to do with a teams depth of talent? Sunday games in college are usually a lot higher scoring across the board.

    My only point here is that you have SO MUCH knowledge of the game, make sure you understand your specific audience and then relate that knowledge in the most accuarte way.

    Good Luck on this new chapter of your career.

  7. Leo says:

    I have really enjoyed your blog as well. I caught the first two innings of the game the other day and thought that the innings that I watched were very good. I did catch one time where you searched for a word that eluded you however the recovery was smooth. I only say this to be constructive since we were asked for a little feedback. I really like the blog and the insight that you convey. Different and refreshing . Keep it up and if you’re ever back at the Trop, let me know as I am a member of the Rays Grounds Crew.

  8. Brian says:

    Hi Morgan,

    Just found the site (read your interview with http://www.razzball.com) it reads really well, I respect the constant struggle to improve your announcing skills – it’s a lot harder than it seems!

    I’ve become very disappointed with the quality of many MLB announcing teams – national broadcasts in particular. Too often they seem as if they’re just ‘going through the motions’ and figured if they brought a warm body to the ballpark their job was finished. It’s nice to see that some people still believe they should bring useful and relevant information they can share with the home audience (even if you’re not broadcasting the playoffs yet).

    Also enjoyed your Sabremetrics article – obviously the basic move to increased statistical evaluation has become a core component of most MLB franchises – but I don’t disagree there’s still a lack of pragmatic applications with some of the analysis.

    For example – we have lots of pitching statistics we use to guess about pitchers who might become injured, but very few tools that might help us modify pitching strategies to avoid injury.

    • Well said Brian. Your head would spin if you were in a locker room and heard what players thought about broadcasts. I believe that coverage will get better, but all the coverage seems the same to me between networks. If those networks would just teach the fans, they could distance themselves. But I don’t think they know what to teach. I hope that changes though because there is so much to teach.

      Morgan

  9. Travis says:

    I tuned in late and thought maybe it was Orel Hershiser announcing. Then I realized you were a hitter before catching your name. Very enlightening, well stated comments, I enjoyed very much. You’re already one of my favorites.

    I caught the comments that a changeup should be exactly 12 mph slower than the fastball. I did wonder to myself how you could be this precise, either as a pitcher or how an analyst could be so certain.

    • Travis I was taught that by Mike Gillespie at USC. He knew that information and after he told me that, I never forgot it. I noticed that it was true when I was hitting. The goal is 12 mph, but as long as you are with in a couple mph it should be ok. But if he does through it at 12 mph then it is the most effective possible.

      Morgan

      • Mike Fast says:

        Morgan, I don’t what it’s like in college, but research at the MLB level shows that the most effective changeups are between 5-10 mph.

        http://baseballanalysts.com/archives/2009/05/optimal_fastbal.php

        This is in line with the theory of kinetics advanced by Matt Lentzner that says that the typical pitcher adds about 7-8 mph of pop to his fastball from the finger snap at release. Shoving the ball into the palm with the changeup grip gets rid of this 7-8 mph boost without slowing the arm action.

        There is likely some variation from pitcher to pitcher based on physiology of their hand and their grip on the baseball, but it would seem that for most pitchers to get more than 8-10 mph off their fastball requires slowing their arm, which major league hitters are able to pick up.

        • Well Mike it looks like we have a showdown. Analysis has deemed those pitches that are 8-10 mph off of the fastball as being most effective. I haven’t read the article, but I would have to know what effective means. My guess is that 8-10 mph difference gets a player to hit the ball for an out. Whereas, if the player throws it 12 mph off he misses it entirely. The other question I have is the many pitchers throw sliders that don’t slide, splits, and cutters that can be 8 mph off the fastball. I will read it right now, but I know that if you throw a straight change up 12 mph off the fastball, we will think it is a fastball.

          Morgan

        • Mike I just read the first article and I will have to read that again about 50 times. I think it is a good article, but I need to think about it for a second. When I think of a pitcher who throws 90 mph, I want that pitcher to throw a change up at 78. I believe he can have success throwing some balls at 80 mph, but he better not throw a lot of curveballs or sliders. Curveballs and sliders tend to be 8 mph off of the fastball and that means that I will be used to that speed.

          I clicked on one of the links from your suggested article and came across this quote in the first or second sentence:
          The speed differential goes from about 5 MPH and guys like Ben Sheets and Aaron Laffey to nearly 15 MPH and guys like Scott Kazmir with Johan Santana and Cole Hamels around 12 MPH.

          I am not trying to suggest that I understand this completely, but I will say that Kazmir, Santana, and Hamels are known for there change ups in scouting reports. We don’t worry about Sheets’ change because he is so fastball dominant. Laffey I don’t remember what the report said.

          Where did you hear about arm slowing down? That is definitely something that pitchers need to avoid or hitters can pick up on it. That is a very important point you made if you ask me.

          Morgan

          • Travis Quigley says:

            Morgan, I believe what Mike was saying is that the change-up grip takes about 7-8 MPH off the pitch (which seems about right to me, intuitively) and anything beyond that would seemingly be slowing your arm down. The research behind that number is second-hand to me, though – and I can’t go read it at the moment – so I won’t make any inroads as to the validity.

            • I think I understand what Mike was saying. My belief is that the data is basically good, but I want to be sure that those are actually straight change-ups and not other pitches that are 8 mph off the fastball.

              Morgan

              • Mike Fast says:

                Right. Just to clarify, this does not include sliders, which are at very similar speeds to changeups. They are fairly easy to tell apart in the PITCHf/x data set based on movement. The changeup has similar movement to the fastball (arm-side run) in the horizontal dimension, just drops more than the fastball. The slider will move the opposite direction in the horizontal dimension and may drop a little more than changeup, depending on the pitcher.

                There might be a few splitters mixed in with the changeups in that data, but mostly those should be separated out into a different bin, too.

            • Mike Fast says:

              Right, Travis. That’s what I was trying to say. I’m not saying that’s it’s impossible to take more than 7-8 mph off the pitch by virtue of the grip. Probably some pitchers can do it. But for the typical pitcher, I believe that physics/kinetics of their hand and grip are such that if they want to take more than that off the pitch, they are going to do it by slowing down their arm.

              My source for the kinetic theory behind this is personal discussion and demonstration by Matt Lentzner at Pac Bell Park for the first PITCHf/x summit in 2008. He convinced me. It’s a lot easier to demonstrate if you have a baseball in hand than to do in writing. I’m sorry I’m not doing a good job of explaining.

              My source for the information about pitch types and speeds comes from the PITCHf/x data. I am talking here about straight changeups and circle changeups, which are hard to tell apart in that data set.

              Which makes me think of something. Morgan, you would do the sabermetric community a HUGE favor if you would talk about how a pro hitter goes about the job of pitch recognition. Do you see the spin on the ball (red dot for slider, for example)? Do you get cues of the pitcher’s motion? Is the process one of conscious recognition or is it a gut feel that is too quick to involve thinking about what you are doing? Etc.

  10. Sam says:

    Could you post when you will be calling games? I missed watching this one, but would be interested in watching one of your games.

  11. Bob Hulsey says:

    Morgan:

    If it makes the opening any easier for you, go into it asking a simple question: why should the viewer watch this game? It may be a heated rivalry or a meaningful conference game or a particular player on the verge of a record or somebody the scouts think will make the majors someday, etc.

    IOW, why should I invest the next three hours to watching this game with you? If you can answer that question, the enthusiasm and confidence should follow.

    A lot of times, your PBP announcer is preparing something along the same lines so talk it over with him and he may tee it up for you.

  12. Dan says:

    Hi Morgan,
    I have to admit this is one of the most refreshing blogs I’ve come across… your honesty and dedication, both to your craft and your readers, puts you in a rare and exclusive company. I’ve been an avid baseball fan for many years up here in Canada, and while I don’t usually get the opportunity to see games on ESPNU, I’m going to make more of an effort to try to catch one of your broadcasts. My best advice would be to always make it appear – no matter who you’re working with – that you and your Play-by-play guy get along well. Hopefully, it’s genuine in most cases!

    • Great advice Dan. I don’t have any problem getting along with the PBP guys I have worked with. They have all been really easy to work with. Send me some “loonies and toonies!”

      Morgan

  13. Steve says:

    Morgan – found my way here via your interview at http://razzball.com. Even here in New Zealand, thanks to the internet and ESPN, following baseball in some depth is relatively easy to do.
    However, the kind of insight you provide, is rare indeed.
    Really good stuff – keep it up.

    • It’s a KIWI! Oui Oui Oui! Glad to have you Steve. How did you come to watch baseball? You mentioned the internet and ESPN, but you still have to like the game if you keep on watching.

      Morgan

      • Steve says:

        The last few years it’s probably been fantasy that’s kept me watching baseball as much as anything, but I do enjoy the pace of the game – it’s a lot like cricket (which is much more popular here) in that regard. Also the sheer talent (athleticism, hand-eye co-ordination etc) of guys thatv are at the top of their profession.
        Growing up, it was just a curiosity about American sport that got me hooked. The fact we got so little coverage of it only made me want to find out more about it. My first real extended TV experience was the 1990 World Series when the Reds swept the A’s . Ah memories!

  14. Jerry says:

    Morgan – Please try not to over-think, and over-parse, every little aspect of what you’re doing. Ensure that you continue to study the game enough, talk to others enough, and research things enough to have large amounts of insightful thoughts in your head that the average fan wouldn’t already know, and then just be yourself and talk. If your demeanor is anything other than perfectly natural, it will be a distraction from what you’re saying. if you overly focus on minutiae and parsing, you will come across as contrived. be like alyson footer!🙂 or jd or brownie, maybe. just live your life. either you’ve got it or you don’t, so don’t force it. regards, jerry

    • Jerry I hear you. I am always myself. But I will prepare for games. I don’t even look at the tiniest things because I understand the game. But it is important for me to know who is pitching well and who is playing well. The day that I stop reading and asking fans questions will be the day that complacency has crept in. And don’t kid yourself, JD, Brown, and Footer do an unbelievable amount of research. They are on the team plane working into the early mornings. It may seem natural, but that is only because they are prepared. I wish you could meet me, I am definitely a different person then you perceive.

      Morgan

      • jerry says:

        i *have* met you, morgan – you’d recognize me instantly if you saw me. 🙂 spent an inordinate amount of time studying your game, your prep, the way you interact with others.

        i know that the detail work is important. i wasn’t saying it’s not. i’m just saying don’t get in an endless loop over it.

  15. Matt Lentzner says:

    Just to clarify on the changeup speed differential concept. (Although Mike Fast has done it justice so far).

    A fastball gets a boost from the finger drive in the neighborhood of 7mph. That’s why a slider is usually about 7mph slower than the fastball. The fingers are on the side of the ball so don’t contribute to speed.

    Now with a change the ball rolls off the fingers in a way that’s similar how a basketball player does a finger roll on a layup to kill the speed of the ball. In essence they convert mphs into spin.

    So it does follow that a pitcher who throws a slower change would also have more spin on it given, and this is very important, the arm speed stays the same.

    I think the reason you see the peak performance at 5-10mph is that at greater differentials you get crappy, tipped changes mixed in with really good ones. I guess the study to check that would be to see if those slower samples have a larger range of performance from bad to good.

  16. Miles says:

    Thanks for the amazing blog, Morgan, and also thank you for taking the time to respond to questions over at SoSH! I decided to come read through your blog after seeing your answers on our board and have been blown away by your insight and candor.

    Regarding your broadcasting: While it’s not exactly the same, have you thought of doing a public-speaking seminar program, like Toastmasters or The Fusion Group’s “Presenting for Results”? I’ve done both and it seems like the areas that you think you need the most work on are topics covered in these programs. I use those skills in corporate presentations all the time, but from your perspective on being in the booth I think they’d be just as applicable to your broadcasting aspirations.

    Keep up the good work, you’ve picked up another loyal reader.

  17. Kelsey says:

    Sorry I posted this on an earlier post but I really like how you tried to pick of tendencies of the pitcher. Also I like your theory of throwing a fastball in a 2-2 count. Something I have never heard or thought of before. I live in the Beaumont area so I got to see you play a few times for the Astros. Do you have a schedule of games you are going to call?

  18. RandyKatz says:

    Your openness and ability to see and critique yourself, and then being willing and able to communicate this, is fantastic.
    You have asked a few of the commenters what they would like you to address next, but that is nearly an impossible question. Nobody else would have been able to think about the leadership story you tell about Bagwell, and nobody would be able to say “tell us how you learn and critique yourself, and how you are trying to improve yourself”. What is clear is that your way of experiencing life, learning, and challenging yourself, and your way of truthfully communicating that, is very interesting. Keep it up.

  19. […] a game between Texas and Oklahoma, and chronicled both how he prepared for the game and broke down what he needed to do better. It was an interesting read, both in how I can learn from him and how similar his preparation is to […]

  20. Stephen Luftschein says:

    Your first line says everything one needs to know about you Morgan, and it is a guarantor of future success. Amazing how few people understand this, and really want to get better in anything!


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