Tigers TV, radio broadcasters likely to work from home during road games

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

If or when Major League Baseball plays in 2020, team broadcasters aren't likely to be making the road trips.

Sports TV and radio affiliates throughout baseball are preparing to have their games called from a local studio when the team is in the road, a source with knowledge of the discussions told The Detroit News. The source, who requested anonymity because they're not authorized to speak publicly on MLB's plans, did say no final decision has been reached, though talks are trending that way.

Matt Shepard and Kirk Gibson

In the Tigers' case, road-game broadcasts would be called from a studio in Southfield, where both 97.1 The Ticket, the Tigers' flagship radio station, and Fox Sports Detroit, the Tigers' TV home, are based.

Matt Shepard, Tigers' TV announcer, said he's "not sure" what the plan is, when contacted by The News.

Under the proposed broadcast plan, TV and radio teams would do the home games pretty much as normal, but both would use a "world feed" — the basic broadcast views TV viewers are accustomed to seeing, such as the main view from center field and the view that follows the ball — from road ballparks, with some additional camera angles, and then piece the broadcast together at their local studios.

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For a game with such history, this plan is almost a tip to nostalgia, back when fellas like Ronald Reagan and Ernie Harwell used to call games from a studio, off the ticker reports — albeit, just a tad more sophisticated. Shepard and Dan Dickerson wouldn't have to clang two Lincoln Logs together to recreate the sound of the bat.

Most broadcasters today grew up calling games in their living rooms, so this would be something like that.

Shepard does the TV games along with a rotating crew of analysts, including Kirk Gibson, Jack Morris, Dan Petry and Craig Monroe. Dickerson does radio with Jim Price, who has skipped some road trips in recent years, including spring road games this year, amid some health issues.

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There has been no word if MLB plans to limit other media for road games, such as print/internet.

Baseball is trying to limit travel parties and attendance at ballparks any way they can amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which would have MLB playing without fans, at least at the start, for the 2020 season.

MLB had hoped to start the season by July 4 weekend, though that seems unlikely amid contemptuous labor negotiations. MLB, citing major financial losses, wants a 50-game season, which would mean players receiving about a third of their salaries.


Twitter: @tonypaul1984