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Reaching The Majors Is Tougher For Broadcasters

Jason Barrett

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For a week, play-by-play broadcaster Josh Maurer struggled to control his nerves. He hardly ate or slept. His body only wanted to focus on the job, which he kept reminding himself was basically the same thing he had done hundreds, if not thousands, of times before. All he had to do was call the games.

The difference? Maurer wasn’t in the minors anymore. He was with the Boston Red Sox, an opportunity he had been building toward ever since he was a kid listening to sportscaster Harry Kalas do play-by-play for the Philadelphia Phillies every night. And for minor league broadcasters such as himself, it’s the kind of opportunity that doesn’t often come along.

Not many hear their voices, but they’re out there. Calling games in places such as Lancaster, San Jose, Durham and Pawtucket, all in service of the big dream. While players in the minors strive to be the face of a major league franchise, broadcasters in the minors strive to be the voice.

For them, though, a bit more patience is required.

At any given moment, Major League Baseball’s 30 clubs have at least 750 roster spots to fill. Between the 60 full-time play-by-play jobs and other assorted radio and TV gigs, there are a fraction as many broadcasting jobs in the majors. The play-by-play positions are the pies in the sky for minor league broadcasters, and it’s basically impossible to rise quickly or cut corners in pursuit of one of those.

“It’s one of those careers where unless you have a big early push or unless you know somebody,” says Maurer, who calls games for the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox, “you’re really just going to have to work your way from the bottom up and go as far as you can.”

 

A young would-be announcer can aspire to make a living with a bat and glove rather than a microphone. But as is the case with most of us, the luck of the natural-athleticism draw tends to have other plans. For many, the microphone is the best way to stay connected to the sport.

 

Broadcasters in the minors are subject to many of the same things that test the commitment of players. The conditions are rough. The road trips are long. The pay sucks.

And minor league broadcasters can’t exactly minimize the hours they’re exposed to these things.

Announcers aren’t exempt from the assorted pains in the neck that come with the territory in the minors. For example, you never know when the team bus will break down. When things like that happen, it’s difficult to ignore the “grind” that is day-to-day life in minor league baseball. It’s only natural at such moments for doubts to creep in. And people—including significant others—do ask whether they would be happier in another line of work.

But for the baseball junkie, there are reasons to keep coming back to the mic. Among those are the games, which always get the juices flowing.

Beyond the thrill of calling the game, there’s also satisfaction to be gleaned from being around players as they try to play their way to the majors. If nothing else, it presents a chance to collect unique baseball stories.

 

These are the perks of the job, and they’re enough to keep a minor league announcer behind the mic—and, in the meantime, doing what’s possible to move up the ladder.

But that doesn’t mean moving around is easy. Things are pretty far removed from when a young Vin Scully could catch the attention of Red Barber and go from there. Like all ambitious professionals, minor league broadcasters must build their network.

“In other industries, if you meet a president of a company or a vice president, they can hook you in with another company or another similar job,” says Will Flemming. “There’s a finite number of Major League Baseball jobs. And once people have them, they don’t give them up.”

No kidding. A scroll through the broadcasting section on MLB’s official website reveals fewer than 10 primary radio or TV play-by-play men have gotten gigs within the last five years. (Yes, all men: Suzyn Waldman and Jessica Mendoza notably have color commentary jobs, but play-by-play in the majors is exclusively a boys club.)

Scully is the most extreme example with 66 seasons behind the mic for the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers, but the overwhelming majority of baseball’s play-by-play voices have been at it for a decade or longer.

By way of comparison, want to know how many players made their major league debuts in 2015 alone? According to Baseball-Reference.com, 227.

With this being the case, it doesn’t hurt for a minor league broadcaster to get a big break. Minor league players wait on pins and needles for their call to The Show. Broadcasters do too.

And when the call finally comes, the thrill is largely the same.

To read the full article visit Bleacher Report where this was originally published

 

Sports Radio News

Andrew Fillipponi: Peter Burns Made ‘Innocuous Joke’ To Ben Watson

“So wait a minute? Because you believe in Jesus Christ you care about your wife more than other people? What are you talking about?”

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The on-air spat between SEC Network host Peter Burns and analyst Ben Watson continues to be bandied about in sports media circles, with 93.7 The Fan hosts Andrew Fillipponi and Chris Mueller discussing the topic Tuesday.

“I’m on Team Burns,” Fillipponi said.

“Forget who’s team you’re on,” Chris Mueller said. “I think you’ve do have to keep the wives and children out of this.”

“What are you talking about, keep the wives and out of it?!,” Fillipponi asked.

“Do we believe this is work or shoot here?,” Mueller wondered.

“Oh, I think this is real,” Fillpponi added, which Mueller agreed.

“Do you think a close fist from Ben Watson hit Peter Burns?,” Mueller asked.

“No, I think he picked him up by the lapels,” Fillipponi said.

When the subject of Watson’s religion was brought up, Fillipponi then pointed out the absurdity of the situation.

“So wait a minute? Because you believe in Jesus Christ you care about your wife more than other people? What are you talking about?”

“I think he might have a shorter fuse and not taking in humor that Peter Burns was giving out,” Mueller said.

“It was an innocuous joke!,” Fillipponi stated. “It wasn’t a joke! Why is it in bad taste?”

Mueller then added the idea of Watson’s wife texting Burns insinuates there’s an inappropriate relationship.

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Sports Radio News

Craig Carton: Booger McFarland’s Zach Wilson Analysis ‘An Embarrasment’

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Craig Carton

ESPN NFL analyst Booger McFarland raised eyebrows on Monday Night Countdown this week by saying New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson has never been held accountable for his actions because he was a “young man who grew up with a lot of money”. WFAN afternoon host Craig Carton called out McFarland’s comments Tuesday as outlandish.

“It was an embarrasment,” Carton said. “Someone should ask Booger McFarland if his kids — who grew up with amazing wealth — have accountability in their lives or if having a little bit of money in your pocket immediately discounts the possibility to have accountability. He’s an idiot and we learned that last night.”

“It’s funny that Steve Young was on the other side of it,” Evan Roberts noted. “Because a long time ago, Steve Young criticized Chris Simms because he’s the son of a famous quarterback.”

“You don’t have to invent reasons for why Zach Wilson isn’t playing well,” added Carton. “Just watch his tape. He’s not playing well. Maybe he’s just not good!”

Carton later said NFL reporters “will try to make a name for themselves by putting out a story” about quarterbacks who take responsibility for their teams failures, while Wilson wouldn’t accept the blame.

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Sports Radio News

Greg Hill: Ben Watson, Peter Burns Drama Was A Bit

“Be careful when you’re talking about somebody’s wife and their kids. ‘Cause not everybody jokes the same way.”

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Peter Burns and Ben Watson shared an awkward exchange during the halftime show of an SEC Network football game over the weekend, and many are still debating whether Watson walking off the set was serious or not. Count part of the cast of The Greg Hill Show on WEEI as doubters.

“That was a a bit,” Courtney Cox said. “That was absolutely a bit.”

“Yeah, unlike the Chris Rock/Will Smith thing, I assume that was a bit,” Hill said. “I can’t believe that Ben Watson is really angry about that.”

“I dunno, man. There’s been a lot of speculation that it isn’t,” Jermaine Wiggins added. “There are people who are very sensitive about you clowning on them or joking with them. Especially with joking about their wife. Some people can’t handle jokes like that.”

After a back-and-forth with Cox about the legitimacy of the joke, Wiggins concluded by saying for some folks family is off limits.

“I’ve learned something in my 47 years on this Earth: be careful when you’re talking about somebody’s wife and their kids. ‘Cause not everybody jokes the same way.”

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