PLAY-BY-PLAY, PLAY-BY-PLAY: YOU CAN’T SEE IT ON THE RADIO

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WPCNR VIEW FROM THE UPPER DECK By WPTV’S BULL ALLEN FROM THE WPIX BASEBALL AND BALLANTINE BOOTH . April 23, 2023:

 

 

“Hello there Everybody this is BULL Allen coming to you from YANKee StAyDEEUMM from the DOUBULA PIX old mezzanine over home plate, where the sun has come out after this morning’s rains. The tarp is off the field. The groundscrew has done a great job getting the big ball park playable. The warmups are finishing up. The starters are getting loose  alongside the dugouts. It’s my pleasure to be doing  play-play-by-play with The Scooter, FILL RIZZUTO  sitting in for John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman, and they are delighted to have PHIL and I back as guests in the Yankee booth today for our Nostalgia Inning.”

This Nostalgia Inning is brought to you by CNBMB  Creating New Baseball Memories in Broadcasting

John Sterling is the Voice of the Yankees now, and has been  coaching me on what to expect, and really after listening to their broadcasts and the New York Mets broadcasts, I must say I have been working on my Alabama drawl and my pitch descriptions limiting them to the count and the pitch result even more than previous year’s broadcasts and Phil has been working on reading the actual commercial tags for  many in-inning features.

There is the first walk of the game, who is bringing you  each inning, the gametime temperature sponsor, the trip to the bullpen sponsor, and the 100 or so or so spots that are played during each Yankee broadcast  in between each half inning.  This surprised me:events in the game are also plug opportunities: trips to the bull pen, trips to the mound, so John and Suzyn have been explaining to  Phil and me,when play-by-play is live what to expect.

John with apologies to Phil and myself explained in order to get live play-by-play spots in that we  limit to phrases like the count, where the pitch was and I can only describe where the ball was hit, very succinctly, very succinctly and generally.

I don’t know if I would ever be able to say “How About That” or “going going gone—into the  Rightfield bullpen, or “into the upper deck halfway up the grandstand.” after a great play without into the next pitch. The Yankees have not yet sold a tagline after each Yankee homerun. I shouldn’t have said that.

Describing the windup, I have to forget about painting a word picture for you like Bob Murphy as I used to say “Cole sets at the belt, checks the runner, around comes the right arm and the 2-2 pitch” which I used to help the listener visualize what I say happening.  This will be the biggest challenge of my broadcasting career:  Talking sparingly, really sparingly.

No this  whimsical broadcast bringing me out of the past to make today’s play-play exciting to listen too did not happen Sunday.

In fact, driving home after my nostalgic  stint had it happened in today’s Blue Jays Yankee scoreless duel in the 5th inning, I realized how the way not only Yankee broadcasts  but Mets broadcasts do sell as much commercial lines in quickie sentences of  10s, 30s, 5 seconds.  You hear  inthe-Inning events brought to you by law firms, accountants, car dealers, boilermakers,  and I do not believe what I just heard–facials and massage spas — I mean really baseball fans do not get  massages (after the game).

A sample of this fastball after fastpall pitch staff was in the fifth inning: “This was the first walk of the game brought to you by Toyota you could be driving instead of walking by driving a new Toyota.”

But…no phone number or website or way to respond.  Those ad agencies not putting ways to respond are crazy.

As any of you fans know listening to play-by-play  in the metropolitan area you hear  as many complete pitches (essential name recognition spots only)  as NFL broadcasts have incomplete passes, and even more.

The Yankees are the highest valued franchise in sports because they have merchandised everything Yankee. They took the WGN model and created I believe the first team owned network YES. MSG owner ed  the Knick and the Rangers, and put them on a network.

Yankee merchandise is everywhere. YES made you pay for every game.

Now the Yankee radio broadcasts have become the most listened to team in the New York area, I believe that is why they are on WFAN, the all sports station.  In the last few years  the inbetween half inning breaks on the radio have been triple and double sold. In a 5 to 10 minute inning of actual play and mid-inning break which the speeded up game rules have produced, you are blitzed with 6 commercials plus sometimes two ingame event sponsor ship taglines and if you have two pitching changes in one half inning you get two “Call to the Bullpens sponsors. I have not kept score.

But driving back into Westchester listening to the game, it was like listening to “The Commercial only Network.”

I began to lose rooting interest because the commercials on half innings lulled my mind. And commercials for in-inning breaks distracted John and Suzyn with inane pitches, they do it smoothly no matter how how silly it sounds. that could use far better copywriting(a lost art today).

Such is the excitement of a possible crucial situation, that the play-by-play what description there is allowed to say about can still interest the fan.

The effect of mid-inning and multiple commercials before the next inning is babble. I can only compare to doing a news story on the evening news, CNN or FOX News or NBC News and interrupting a story on the debt ceiling with a 10 second tagline, “Don’t worry about your debt with Don’t Worry Mortgage Bank.” The newscasts have few stories enough as it is, commercials in the middle of stories would be a huge money maker for what passes as media today.

It certainly works for the baseball play-by-play. But I feel sorry for the agony of John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman. Meaningless squibs in key portions of an inning. Here you have a dream job and it has become a nightmare.

When baseball was broadcast in the past you usually had a beer sponsor,  and the commercial between innings were jingles. Now you have talk spots.

There was a song by Terry Cashman, “Play-by-Play: I saw it on the radio”

That song ingeniously described and paid tribute to baseball broadcasts of the past, mixing famous calls from old broadcasts with the refrain “I saw it on the radio.”

Today with most broadcast actual play-by-play time limited, deprived of description time such as letting us know how outfielders are positioned even with the new rules, or how the infield play in or back or shades legally  the fan  unless they watch on television has no concept on how the fielders are adjusting to the game.

Baseball’s very limited descriptions of the details of the new rules, have not been thorough. Who knew that batters only had 11 seconds to get into position to hit again. That is tough. That is less than little league.

Why is the pitching better? The pitchers are cheating. The Met pitcher tossed from a game for having a substance on his hands, caught twice raises a lot of questions. It takes a long time to control a trick pitch. Maybe that pitcher has been using illegal pitches for a long time, or maybe he was a quick study.

The pitchers have found that speeding up and the penalizing of the batter preparation to hit time is making them more effective. They get into a groove. the adrenaline is going the concentration intense.

Before the new rules on pitching and hitting took effect, batters used to take enormous coffee breaks outside the batter’s box which disrupted starters and relief rhythms. Now the pitchers pitch a little slower than batting practice pitchers but the pitches work better than a BP machine. Last Sunday’s Gerritt Cole 2-0 complete game was a masterpiece and very instructive. He was almost quick pitching. Pitchers have been very effective because the ready-to-hit in 10 seconds distracts the batter’s focus.

But today’s play-by-play habit of microphoning the crowd also drowns out the announcing team, another hype to make you think the baseball broadcast is exciting.

I have listened to  3 play-by-plays of Yankee Sunday games. I used to find listening to baseball on the radio terrific to listen to because Mr. Sterling and Ms. Waldman got you into the game situations talked baseball around the league, noted improvements in players. Now with the 20 seconds between pitches they cannot to that as effectively.

And there have been no specials on sportscasts that I know of about the new rules.

The broadcasts today no matter who is broadcasting are not building fans.

They are just commercial parades that severely diminish the intensity of exciting games and when the game is an artistic mess (a 17-3 game) As soon as you hear the score you are out of there and back to SiriusXM.

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