Tag Archives: baseball thoughts

Saturday baseball series 5-1-21

As I write more of these baseball broadcasting posts, I will cover things I found made my broadcasts something that could be at least listened to. You know, things that Joe Buck for absolute certain does not do.

Today’s post is about scoring games.

When I started at KCSB, I did what I had done in high school to score games: I used a scorecard with little diagrams of the field. That’s not to say that I only used the scorebook when I was in college. I had at least some playing time. But still.

After scoring in just black ink, I decided to up my game by using a different color when it was a first-pitch strike. I kept tallies of pitches per inning I wanted to have maximum information to say on the air in real time in case it mattered.

There’s a distinct pen click sound in my early broadcasts.

Before long, I outgrew the paper scorecards. I knew there had to be an electronic scoring system. After all, the live gamecast had to be from manual entry, right?

I found that Daktronics, the scoreboard manufacturer, makes the software I was looking for. With simple keystrokes, I could score the game easily, consistently, and with quick situational stat recall. The problem was that it effectively costs a million dollars.

I don’t remember the exact price, but even now, the price for the full software is $250.

I knew the radio station wouldn’t foot the bill, and I was even more certain that I wouldn’t.

So I kept serarching.

I came across Ballstat / Ball Score that advertised a fully featured program that, with simple keystrokes, I could score the game easily, consistently, and with quick situational stat recall. For free.

Now, that was in the station’s price range!

The software was so good that, while the free version was nominally the trial version, I paid the 20 for the full version because, even though it was identical, it gave the guy who made it some money. In this case, it was $20. It was worth it to me personally to shell that out for how much work it saved me.

Here I am calling a game at the then-named at&t park in March 2011, with ballstat / ball score running. PC Mitchell Clements
Closeup of ballstat / ball score. PC Mitchell Clements.

Sure, I had to learn all the keystrokes, but that was pretty easy!

And when I wanted to pull up situational statistics, I just had to double-click a cell. It was absolutely insane.

A few years ago I looked up the software’s creator because I wanted to share how much all the hard work he’d done had helped me. I wanted to share that I used his software in a Major League park, even if that park is the home of the San Francisco Giants (boo!).

But it turned out he’d passed away years before.

I hate to end it on such a downer. I guess I should have acted earlier on that.

Saturday baseball series 4-24-21

Broadcasting baseball at Ceasar Uyesaka Stadium at UCSB in the late-’00s to early-’10s wasn’t the easiest or most convenient thing to do.

Screenshot of current-day Caesar Uyesaka Stadium

I’m not sure how the stadium is now because I haven’t been to it in almost a decade, but at the time, the bathrooms were limited to a porta potty within the gates. Sometimes there was a trailer with fancier bathrooms in the parking lot off the left side of the field.

Rather than a real press box or designated, permanent broadcast area, there was a folding table set up over some benches at the top of the grandstand right in front of the booth that that holds the controls for the scoreboard as well as seats for the media coordinator/official scorer and the microphones for the PA system.

As for the controls for the stadium’s lighting system? Those were nonexistent.

There were no night games because there were no lights.

Games normally were on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. While many schools hold those games when students can attend and root for their team, UCSB was restricted to games that started at noon or 1pm or 2pm.

Who’s going to show up for a game on a Tuesday at 1pm? Who’s awake as early as 1pm on a Tuesday?

Even Wrigley Field in Chicago got stadium lights in August 1988. From what I heard about a decade ago, it would cost about $50,000 to have a good enough lighting system. I don’t know if it’s happened since, but Caesar Uyesaka Stadium was without any such feature during my time there.

The only way to get to the top of the grandstand where we set up the broadcast table was to walk from the entry to the stadium at the bottom of the grandstand up a level and then up the face of the grandstand beyond the blue chairs to the regular bleachers. There’s no shortcut. No direct access to the top with a side staircase.

From the 2009 Media Guide

Rather than solely making for a miserable existence, the lack of features allowed for unusual experiences.

One of the key points to broadcasting is staying hydrated. If you don’t stay hydrated but have to talk for three hours, you’re going to lose your voice.

But we all know what staying hydrated leads to.

Once when I was calling a baseball game with a new member of KCSB Sports staff, I had to talk more, which meant I had to drink more. And we all know what that leads to.

So at the seventh inning stretch, I ran down the grandstand to get to the sole porta potty. I saw there was a line. Yay.

As time grew closer to me having to go back on the air and not leave the new guy unsupported, I found myself one back from the door. I asked the guy in front of me if I could cut him.

At this kind of request, people can be accommodating. Or annoyed. Or incredulous. Or inquisitive. There are a lot of reasons to say no.

This guy was not eager to comply. His response: “Uh, I’m the left fielder.” As though I didn’t know that. For hours.

I wasn’t ready to give up. “Yeah. But I’m the broadcaster.”

“Oh! Yeah, dude. Go for it!”

The game wouldn’t wait for me to get back, but it sure would wait for him. I’m grateful that he allowed me to return to my job in time and, I guess, talk about him to the world.

Saturday baseball series 4-17-21

Last week I said I should start a series about baseball. Baseball and series seem to go together naturally. So why not?

This series will cover things like the rules of baseball over time, my experiences playing baseball, my experiences broadcasting baseball, and my experiencing broadcasting overall.

When I went to UCSB, I took the opportunity to broadcast sports. The origin story will be in some future post, but this one, I’ll limit to to broadcasting baseball.

When I the KCSB-FM Sports Staff, I was very interested in broadcasting baseball. I had played baseball as a child, in high school, Senior Little League, an LA municipal league. I grew up watching the Dodgers and listening to Vin Scully. I was born shortly before the Dodgers won the World Series in 1988, and until recently, it was easy to recite how long it had been since the boys in blue had been able to hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy.

Unfortunately for me, there was a lot of competition on KCSB Sports staff for baseball games.

Fortunately for the listeners of KCSB, though, there was a lot of competition on KCSB Sports staff for baseball games, and I had no seniority.

I got to cover games for the Gaucho Sports Spot, which was awesome. I sat near the guys who were calling the games for the radio station. Regularly, they were John Greely and Matt Connolly and I think Marco Alfandary. I could be wrong. But I think it was those three.

That’s not to say that these guys were selfish. They weren’t. KCSB Sports was known for being welcoming and inclusive. But with more time comes more experience that makes you better, so priority makes sense–especially for the big games.

They’d have their headphones on and talk about the game. They’d reference other games and statistics and they’d compare what was going on in front of all of us to something that had happened in a prior year.

Now, I knew that to broadcast sports properly, research was extremely important.

You don’t know what you’ll be faced with, so you have to overprepare. And then use a miniscule amount of what you found because it doesn’t enhance a listener’s experience to talk about something unrelated to the game solely because it’s the result of research.

I knew that the written play-by-play of each game is generally easily available on a college team’s website, but who can remember every single play from reading that and put it into context in real time?

After one game, I asked them how they did it.

“Huh? Research those stories? No, we were there. We saw those things happen. Dude how could we have known to look that up?”

Later I got to do the same.

NYT Crossword 7-27-20 Complete

Pretty easy Monday puzzle. Took me a little over seven minutes. I’m happy that it’s the part of the week that lets me fill the boxes quickly.

I learned of the existence of someone today: 52D Actress Anne of “Wag the Dog.” (HECHE). I looked her up and saw that she was in a relationship with Ellen from 1997-2000. I also haven’t seen Wag the Dog, so I can be excused for not knowing about her.

Baseball season has started, and I hope that there will be a lot of baseball clues in upcoming puzzles.

And on the topic of baseball: It used to be where there were player-managers on Major League Baseball teams. That is to say that there used to be players who were on the team who had to decide about themselves if they should play or sit. They also had to be teammates and their teammates’ boss.

There are no more of those in Major League Baseball, but I do not think it is prohibited. The manager wears a uniform just like a player wears a uniform. (Side note: I was happy that Dave Roberts got to wear 30 again for the Dodgers when he became the manager. I miss the days when I could see him wearing that number in center field.) The coaching staff wears the team’s uniform. Nobody but the players are members of the union, right? Can coaches be part of the MLBPA? If there is another player-manager, would it be a violation for management to be part of the union for players?