In the MLB Fan Cave, TBS Maps Out American League Postseason
With the Los Angeles Angels celebrating in the West and Baltimore Orioles in the East, all eyes at Turner are on the AL Central race between Detroit and Kansas City. That is, when they’re not glancing over at Oakland — even Seattle — to gauge potential Wild Card matchups.
Last week, TBS hosted a star-studded MLB Postseason Media Day at the MLB Fan Cave in New York City, where the network shed light on the American League races and its plans for postseason coverage. Veteran play-by-play man Ernie Johnson was joined on stage by analysts Ron Darling and Cal Ripken, with studio host Casey Stern alongside studio analysts Pedro Martinez and Gary Sheffield.
Unlike in past postseasons, when TBS deployed skeleton crews across the country to potential Wild Card sites for both leagues, the network will be the exclusive television home of the American League throughout the postseason, broadcasting the American League Wild Card Game, Division Series, and Championship Series.
“There is still potential for three setups going into the division series,” notes Craig Barry, SVP of production and executive creative director, Turner Sports. “We’re just preparing ourselves for that. They all have to be full-complement, and, once [the matchups are] set, it’ll be a matter of understanding where we’re going and then sending the crew there.”
This postseason, TBS plans to focus its technological efforts on getting the fans as close to the game, and the players, as possible. TBS will deploy 20 total cameras, including four 6x super slow motion cameras, one RF camera, robotic cameras, and a blimp for each American League Division Series.
For the American League Championship Series, the camera complement increases to approximately 28 total cameras, including four 6x super slow motion cameras, two 3x super slow motion cameras, two RF cameras, and up to seven robotic cameras.
“Philosophically, getting the fan as close to the action, as close to the athletes as possible is our job,” says Barry. “The lowest common denominator is more cameras, better cameras, so, if we’re going to integrate and innovate around technology, I’d rather integrate and innovate around access technology.”
One camera that will not return is “Truss Cam,” introduced during last year’s postseason. After evaluating the camera, which was mounted on a trolley that ran along a track outside the outfield wall, Barry’s team opted not to use it this year.
“I didn’t think there was any real groundbreaking shots that came from that camera,” says Barry. “There were some really cool, interesting shots, but I don’t think it changed the way we did coverage or enhanced the way we did coverage. I would rather put more money into more super-slo-mos, higher-quality super-slo-mos, more centerfield cable cameras.”
TBS begins its eighth consecutive year of MLB postseason coverage on Tuesday Sept. 30, with the American League Wild Card Game. Coverage continues on Thursday Oct. 2 with the American League Division Series, followed by the American League Championship Series.
Johnson will provide play-by-play, alongside Darling and Ripken, for the Wild Card Game, one ALDS series, and the ALCS. Brian Anderson, Dennis Eckersley, and Joe Simpson will handle the other ALDS. TBS’s studio coverage will include analysis by eight-time All Star and three-time Cy Young Award winner Martinez and nine-time All Star Sheffield, hosted by Stern.