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D-Backs TV Team Finding Their Groove

Jason Barrett

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Arizona Diamondbacks President and CEO Derrick Hall admits he gambled a bit by hiring Steve Berthiaume to be the play-by-play announcer for the team’s broadcasts on FOX Sports Arizona before the 2013 season.

The team had just dismissed Berthiaume’s predecessor, Daron Sutton, for “philosophical differences,” and also booted color analyst Mark Grace due to Grace’s legal troubles. Hall managed to snatch broadcasting veteran and former Diamondbacks manager Bob Brenly away from the Chicago Cubs to replace Grace, but paired him with a relative play-by-play newcomer in Berthiaume, a veteran of ESPN’s Baseball Tonight.

“We were definitely taking a risk,” Hall said. “The time that I spent with Steve I could tell he had tremendous knowledge about baseball. He had the background of Baseball Tonight, a deep passion for it. It was his dream to be a play-by-play announcer. So I knew he would work hard at it.”

Three years into the Brenly-Berthiaume partnership, things seem to be going swimmingly. (Regardless of what you thought about their extended selfie riff a few days ago.) Diamondbacks broadcasts have been the most-watched primetime programming in the Phoenix area all year, and ratings are up 20 percent over last year. FOX Sports Arizona’s June broadcasts were the best for that month since 2007.

It didn’t gel immediately between the pair. Chemistry takes work – Brenly thinks it takes about a year for a broadcasting duo to learn each other’s rhythms –and Berthiaume lagged far behind Brenly when it came to experience calling games.

In their first season together, Berthiaume’s instincts were still in studio-show mode, where “dead air is death.” He would cram the broadcast with too much information, and had yet to find a natural way to work in Brenly’s analysis.

“Sometimes it felt a little too forced,” Brenly said. “(Later) we got to the point where he was doing his thing, covering the play-by-play, giving the nuts and bolts and I would jump in wherever I thought it was appropriate. The times that he does lead me in now, it’s because he wants to know something. Not just to put my voice out there on the air.”

Or as Berthiaume put it: “I have tried to adjust and learn when to just shut the hell up.”

Brenly honed his craft over years, but Berthiaume has given himself a crash course. After each night’s broadcast wraps up, he heads home to watch four or five innings of it. Then he watches parts of several other games, looking for ideas on how to get better.

Now the sum of their parts equal a team that has gotten good reviews from the likes of The Sporting News and AwfulAnnouncing.com. Berthiaume is the self-described baseball geek with an endless supply of historical tidbits about the game. Brenly has a deep knowledge of how the game is played, and a million different stories from his days as a player and manager. (Many of them unfit for the airwaves, he pointed out.)

Brenly calls Berthiaume “Partner” more often than when they began.

“The two mesh so well together,” Hall said. “I think they complement each other perfectly. I think they’re a fantastic team.”

Berthiaume just had his contract extended for unspecified term, although Hall said it covers at least the next two seasons. The ESPN vet feels the risk he took leaving the East Coast, where he’d spent the first 25 years of his career, has been completely worth it.

“It’s the best job in the world,” he said.

Brenly’s deal has two more official years left on it, although it’s expected he’ll have the freedom to stick around beyond that so long as he’s interested.

There’s always the danger that a team could come sniffing around Brenly as a managerial candidate, but the 61-year-old thinks those days are behind him. The last two times he interviewed to return to the dugout – with the Cubs in 2006 and the Brewers in 2008 – he felt like he was “just filling out the dance card.”

Perhaps one of Major League Baseball’s national broadcasting partners comes calling – Brenly has plenty of experience at the national level with TBS and FOX – but he insists he prefers the pleasures of following one team all year long. (His contract does allow for occasional appearances on national broadcasts, something Hall feels only brings more exposure to the Diamondbacks.)

“I like where I’m at right now, I enjoy what I’m doing and I like the people I’m working with,” Brenly said. “I’m not looking for anything.

Credit to the Arizona Republic who originally published this article

Sports TV News

Pedro Martinez: ‘Never Imagined’ TV Career

“And the reason I’m here, it’s not because of the camera, it’s actually because it gives me an opportunity to remain linked to the game, remain linked to what’s going on, the different changes the game is offering right now, adjusting to different things.”

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As the Major League Baseball season comes to a close and preparations for the playoffs begin, MLB Network and TNT analyst Pedro Martinez joined The Press Box podcast to discuss his time as a television analyst.

When asked what he liked about working in television, Martinez didn’t hesitate with his answer.

“I think it’s a platform and the opportunity I have to bring to the audience what I know, what I think, what I understand and broadcasting gives me the opportunity to continue to have that communication with the people, the young athletes and fans. At the same time, I’m able to continue to learn and transmit some of the things that I would love to show everybody by playing but my body doesn’t allow me, but my mind does.

“This is a great way to bring the right information to the people, but I take advantage of the platform to communicate with my fanbase, the player’s fanbase, and the voice behind the players and the situations that come up, I can actually teach the audience some of the things that I understand from my point of view.”

A media career was never in the cards for Martinez. At least that’s what he thought during his playing career.

“I swear to god, it’s the only thing I never imagined. I never thought I would like being in front of a camera,” Martinez said. “And the reason I’m here, it’s not because of the camera, it’s actually because it gives me an opportunity to remain linked to the game, remain linked to what’s going on, the different changes the game is offering right now, adjusting to different things.

“You learn so much just by having access to information, having access to so many other different things. A lot of people would be surprised how much you can dig into and I think for everybody else, if they knew the kind of information we have access to, they’d be intrigued to come do what we do.”

He then said one of the things he would have never picked up on was how many pitchers tip their pitches, but due to all of the information, video, and relationships broadcasters have make that information readily available. He added his work in television has enabled more relationships with baseball players from his home country, the Dominican Republic.

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Sports TV News

Stephen A. Smith and Malika Andrews Get Heated Over Ime Udoka Coverage

“Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me, I listened to you,” Smith interjected, “you’re the one telling me to stop on my show. It ain’t happening.”

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Stephen A. Smith, Malika Andrews

On Friday’s First Take, Stephen A. Smith continued his stance regarding the public leaking of information surrounding Celtics’ Head Coach Ime Udoka relationship with a team staffer. He also went further by sharing his dismay that Udoka was seemingly the only person punished for the violation of company policy.

“Only he is in violation of the company policy?” Smith asked. “The woman who elected to have a consensual relationship with him is not in violation?” 

Before the end of the show, ESPN NBA Today host Malika Andrews called in the program and wanted to address Smith’s comments.

“Stephen A., with all do respect, this is not about pointing the finger. Stop,” Andrews said. “The fact that we are sitting here debating whether somebody else should have been suspended or not, we are not here, Stephen A., to further blame women.”

Smith would replay saying that his intention was not blame anyone outside of the Celtics coach.

“First of all, let me be very clear, I don’t appreciate where you’re going with that, I’m not blaming anybody but Ime Udoka,” Smith stated. “The fact of the matter is, he deserves to be fired if they were going to fire him. If you’re not going to fire him, then don’t fire him. My issue is all of this being publicized.”

Andrews tried to jump back in for further commentary but Smith stopped that and noted he didn’t appreciate being interrupted on “my show”.

“Excuse me, excuse me, excuse me, I listened to you,” Smith interjected, “you’re the one telling me to stop on my show. It ain’t happening.”

Andrews did thank Smith for clarifying his stance at the end of the segment. ESPN has removed access to the video from its YouTube channel by making it private.

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Rich Eisen on Tom Brady Joining FOX: ‘I Gotta See It to Believe It’

“I think what Peyton Manning has done with his post-playing career is more of a blueprint that I would think Brady would follow.”

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Is 2023 the year we see Tom Brady in the broadcast booth for FOX? Rich Eisen isn’t so sure.

“I still gotta see it to believe it, I’ll be honest with you, man. I know it’s a great chunk of change and it’s a lot of money. I don’t know,” the NFL Network icon said on the most recent edition of the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast.

Tom Brady has taken his foot off the gas in 2022 in a more public way than fans are used to. He voluntarily missed eleven days of training camp and has announced that he will not be available to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Wednesdays during the season.

Eisen says if Brady is looking for a less demanding career, broadcasting isn’t the best option.

“It is a lot of work. And I’m not saying Brady’s not up for it, but if he’s been grinding for 23, 24 years, it’s still a grind in its own way.”

FOX signed Brady to a ten-year deal reportedly worth $375 million to start after he retires. He will be in the network’s top broadcast booth and also serve as an ambassador for the network’s coverage of the NFL.

Eisen says there is a much better model for Brady’s media career in his old rival Peyton Manning.

“I think what Peyton Manning has done with his post-playing career is more of a blueprint that I would think Brady would follow,” Eisen said. “Peyton Manning could be making that much money in the booth himself, right? Instead, he’s got his own production company and he’s doing the games, but not all of them, only 10 of them. And he’s doing them from his basement and he’s got the rights to the games!”

He added that Tom Brady “write his own ticket like that” if he chose to do something similar to what Manning has done with Omaha Productions.

Brady has not had much to say about his deal with FOX since the news became public. In June, he told Dan Patrick that he knows his first season in the booth will come with a lot of growing pains.

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