Jesse Goldberg-Strassler, Mick Gillispie and Kevin Reichard discuss what would have been the end of the MiLB season next week, the changing demographics of baseball this year, and the sad passing of Chadwick Boseman on this week’s Ballpark Digest Broadcaster Chat.
In this week’s chat:
- September came up fast, so the discussion begins with the fact that this would have been the last week of the season had the MiLB season been played
- MLB pennant races are surprisingly compelling this season, given the short season and the number of teams in contention
- Kevin has been talking with owners about the MLB proposal for the overhaul of MiLB; owners are surprisingly in favor—or at least resigned to the inevitable. The timeline has not changed: look for talks to continue through Thanksgiving. Still not public: the 120 teams MLB expects to survive
- Why September is a better weather month for baseball than is April, but no one wants to compete with high-school football in the South
- The trade deadline yields some surprising and unusual swaps in the midst of an unusual year. The Padres made the biggest splash; Mick attributes it to a need to win now, Jesse points out that the Padres acquired a lot of talent without giving up any top prospects, and Kevin opines that the Padres are looking as much to next year as this year: Win now, sell tickets later
- Jesse points out ratings for baseball are up, especially in the demographics MLB wants to reach: women ages 18-35, as well as young people in general, in cities like San Diego. This is part of a larger effort in San Diego to aggressively market the team, which includes going back to the brown unis and pushing young players
- The demographic change for the Padres is also coming at a time when older fans are disenchanted with the game for introducing politics and support for #BLM. Kevin discusses the emails he’s received when writing about Spring Training 2021 from angry older men who say they’re never watching another MLB game ever again and want to make sure he knows why; he’s happy to see them go and is welcoming the 18-35 demographics. Mick, on the other hand, likes the big-tent approach, dislikes politics in the game, and welcomes every kind of fan to his broadcasts
- This year has upended traditional player schedules and situations; some players seem to thrive, and some players, like Craig Kimbrel, are struggling; struggling players, however, tend to get one or two more stops after a bad season. Teams increasingly invest in technology to turn around reclamation projects
- Jesse discusses the recent passing of Chadwick Boseman and the experience of the Lansing Lugnuts scheduling a ballpark event centered on a showing of the movie 42, then having Boseman’s death announced that same day
- Mick and Jesse discuss the challenges of broadcasting in this day and age, along with the challenges of calling a game remotely
- Alternative multiple broadcasts were endorsed, especially the prospect of a homer broadcast or, as Mick wants, a gambling-centric broadcast. Sinclair, which owns most RSNs, may not be capable of pulling this off, but watch Barstool potentially making an impact in the future
- Mick wants a fresh face on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball; Kevin wants to see a new face of the game. No one likes A-Rod on the national broadcasts; all three want to see the emphasis return to baseball and away from gimmicks like visitors to the booth
- Today’s Baseball Thesaurus terminology covers the different portions of a bat, beginning with the knob and ending up with the barrel. The evolution of bats from the Babe Ruth and Nap Lajoie to today’s axe handles is discussed
Jesse Goldberg-Strassler is the Voice of the Lansing Lugnuts and the author of The Baseball Thesaurus and The Football Thesaurus from August Publications. Mick Gillispie is the Voice of the Tennessee Smokies and a spring-training Voice of the Chicago Cubs. Kevin Reichard is publisher at August Publications and Ballpark Digest.