The Ballpark Digest Broadcaster Chat strikes back, as Mick Gillispie, Jesse Goldberg-Strassler and Kevin Reichard gather to discuss the 2021 season—so far.
Recorded last week, the three discuss the Minor League Baseball season in the first year under MLB rule. The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly complicated what would have been a complicated season anyway, what with a new scheduling framework, new travel rules and more.
Some highlights of the discussion:
- The ever-changing nature of the season schedule has raised concerns. When MLB first announced the 2021 MiLB schedules, there were to be no playoffs. But once the season started MLB announce there would be playoffs, albeit under some new arrangements.
- The new six-game homestand schedules have been a success and will continue into 2022 and beyond. There have been some adjustments here and there—in 2022 the schedule will allow for July 4 night games despite the holiday falling on what normally would be a Monday day off, and teams will be able to request morning games, a popular promotional tool for the younger set. The 2022 spring-training schedules have been very traditional in nature, while the 2022 MiLB schedules (at least Triple-A and Double-A) also feature traditional structuring, including a break for potential All-Star Games.
- Broadcasters are once again hitting the road, at least on the MiLB level. Mick has called both MiLB and MLB games this season from a booth and doesn’t think the fan experience was diminished, but Jesse shows a clear preference for in-ballpark broadcasts.
- The analytics vs. hands-on scouting debate continues in front offices. Many analytics advocates—whose voices were loudest during the MiLB contraction—are not seeing their teams experiencing a lot of success this season. The traditionalists, meanwhile, say the only way to learn to be a big-league player is to play real games, not participate in the chain-link-fence leagues. Remote technology-based instruction can get you only so far.
- The treatment of players has been a big issue this season, ranging from housing problems to bad food in the low minors. With the 2020 MiLB season canceled and the 2020 MLB season curtailed, resources are stretched on every level of the pro-baseball hierarchy.
- Kevin bemoans the decision by MLB to dump Topps as a trading-card partner in favor of the inexperienced Fanatics after no negotiations or notice, ending a 70-year relationship. It’s all about the money.
Mick Gillispie is Voice of the Tennessee Smokies and a spring-training Voice of the Chicago Cubs, while often appearing on Marquee Network broadcasts and podcasts throughout the season. Jesse Goldberg-Strassler is Voice of the Lansing Lugnuts and author of The Baseball Thesaurus and the upcoming second edition of The Football Thesaurus, both from August Publications. Kevin Reichard is editor of Ballpark Digest and founder/publisher at August Publications.
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