Diary of a commentator


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May 13, 2006
Hey, Congratulations on your new contract! In one of your updates you mentioned that you will be doing baseball during the Asian games. I would be interested in hearing some of your calls. Have you done any baseball games before? In most of your posts, I've noticed you talk about your football, soccer, basketball and even snooker coverage (whatever that is). Do you see yourself doing any baseball in the future? Who has the MLB or minor contracts in Europe?
Just to let you know, my former employer, Infostrada Sports (now Gracenote Sports) will be producing athlete biographies, historical results and facts and figures for the official news service of the Asian Games, so these will be available to you. This is the same company that produced the same data for PyeongChang and many other previous events. So hopefully that'll help you out a lot. Regarding biographies, they'll have a team on the ground collecting and updating them as the Games progress, so make sure to check back later if you don't find what you need initially. Good luck!
Thank you for what I think is probably the single most directly helpful post I've received in this forum. :) I know how the Infostrada stuff worked at the Winter Olympics in February, but I had no idea until you chimed in that something similar was definitely in the works for the Asian Games. Very, very good to know!
Hey, Congratulations on your new contract! In one of your updates you mentioned that you will be doing baseball during the Asian games. I would be interested in hearing some of your calls. Have you done any baseball games before? In most of your posts, I've noticed you talk about your football, soccer, basketball and even snooker coverage (whatever that is). Do you see yourself doing any baseball in the future? Who has the MLB or minor contracts in Europe?
I believe - but am by no means certain - that my baseball calls at the Asian Games will be streamed via https://asiangames2018.live/, so that's the first place I'd go to look into everything. I've not formally called any baseball or softball before, although informally I go way back into my childhood. (Heh.) As far as my baseball future is concerned, BT Sport/ESPN has the rights here in the UK, and they just use the ESPN feed for nationally televised games and usually the home team broadcast for other games, so there's no obvious way to move forward on that front. (I think other countries that show baseball have similar deals in place; I've never heard of any European country showing any minor league games at all.) That said, I'd love to do get some work covering future World Baseball Championship games - IIRC Eurosport had the European rights to the tournament last time - and possibly the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, after which who knows what might happen. Realistically, I can't see myself ever getting regular baseball work in the USA, simply because I don't have the extensive minor league background that so many commentators have, but I'd never say never!

I fly to Jakarta on Thursday, and I've been busy prepping for my commentary assignments, to the extent that I can. All the official website has for each player is age/birthdate, height and weight - that's it. (Unfortunately, it seems as though @jungleboy was wrong about what Infostrada is supplying - at least, that's what I've been told by my employer.) But for the softball tournament, which is first at the Games, so far I've logged every tournament result this century for each participating nation at the Asian Games, World Championship, World Cup, Asian Championship and Southeast Asian Games, and at the most recent World Championship (which ended on Sunday) I have full tournament stats for each player involved from Japan, China, Chinese Taipei and the Philippines, which will be a huge help in giving me stuff to talk about for games involving those countries as their rosters for the Asian Games are virtually identical. Baseball is tougher, because the teams going to Jakarta will not be top class and information on amateur or lesser pro players will be tough to come by...but I'll hopefully dig further into that before Thursday lunchtime.

Thankfully, it looks like I'm only going to have to commentate on a maximum of three softball games per day (instead of the five I thought I'd have to call each day during the group phase), and only two baseball games per day. And all of my travel, visa and currency exchange logistics have been sorted out. But by the time the second full week in September rolls around, I'm going to be properly exhausted: I land in Edinburgh on the morning of 3 September (Monday) after nearly 24 hours of travel, then I fly to Vienna on 5 September, call three CHL games on 6-8 September, and then fly back to Newcastle on 9 September and drive from there to Leeds in time to present NFL opening day. Yikes.
Greetings from Jakarta, where the Asian Games opening ceremony is being shown right now on every one of the first eight channels on my hotel TV. It'll be about 90 degrees and humid pretty much every day while I'm here, and I've already partaken of some of the local customs, like crossing four lanes of traffic as a pedestrian by just confidently extending one arm as a warning to the cars bearing toward me to slow down just enough to let me pass. I've just had dinner at a local Mexican establishment offering fusion dishes like the beef rendang burrito; I settled for a wagyu beef quesadilla, which was very tasty if not particularly Mexican.

Today I picked up my accreditation but not my uniform, which hopefully will be at the softball venue when I arrive tomorrow morning. (Not sure about having to wear a uniform while commentating, but thankfully it's probably just an Asian Games T-shirt or golf shirt.) I've established that my softball and baseball commentary will likely be picked up by some of the Asian domestic broadcasters - @singaporesoxfan, take note, as I'm pretty sure Singapore is on that list. (If indeed anyone in Singapore actually wants to watch baseball and softball, that is, given that you're not entering teams for either event.) :) That aside, I spent about an hour at the softball venue, liaising with various members of the production team - the techies are mostly Australian, but the director and production team are Korean and not terribly English-conversant - and familiarizing myself with the broadcast position and the routes to the production facilities, bathrooms and so on. The weirdest aspect of the venue is that my commentary position is down the third-base line and set rather far back from the field, with a concrete camera position jutting out and completely blocking my view of the left-field corner - I have to hope that the director is good and stays with the ball whenever it goes there, because if it's not on my monitor, I'll be pretty screwed. Otherwise, the venue is rather nice apart from the screws sticking up through the floor beneath the chair at my commentary position and extending along a long line to either side, which is definitely the worst health-and-safety hazard I've seen in my time commentating and which I'm pretty certain will draw blood on my feet or ankles at some point during the next seven days. I did take the chance to walk around the field this afternoon to test the dirt and the bermuda grass in the outfield, the latter of which is surprisingly thick and spongy.

Humorously, the time difference here is such that I can turn on Fox Sports 2 in my hotel room every morning when I wake up and watch a live MLB game on TV as a way of getting myself in the right mindset for my own commentary. Right now, though, I'm listening to the England-India test cricket match with the opening ceremony on in the background, and will continue doing so as I finalize my prep work for tomorrow. I have a separate laptop at my broadcast position which displays the official information system on it and which I can't access on my own laptop, so what I did at the venue today was take photos of each team's roster and biographical information on my phone, and now I've copied all of the text from those charts into an Excel spreadsheet that I'll keep on my PC and can sort and arrange as I want it to be arranged (e.g., pasting in the stats for each player who was at the World Championship earlier this month). I'm calling three games per day from tomorrow until the gold medal game on Friday, but apparently my media pass will get me into every other venue, and as such I'm hoping to be able to sneak away from time to time - especially on my off days - to watch some action at the other stadiums in the central GBK compound, all of which are within fairly easy walking distance of my hotel.
Just a quick update at the end of day one of the Asian Games - I probably won't bother with day-by-day updates, but today was a classic case of first-day kinks to be ironed out. The 10 a.m. start was quite an adventure, including my monitor not working until 30 seconds after the broadcast had started - the techies saving the day just in the nick of time. I had to spend far too much time chasing down stat sheets and other information myself, stuff that an overall site media manager (what at a college would be called the Sports Information Director) should be taking care of if only one existed. The 10 a.m. game featured the sun and wind in my face and hideous glare on the monitor, although that got better as the day wore on. In that game, I was given the name of the Korean "team manager" and assumed that was the "manager" in the baseball/softball sense...so when the head coach came to the mound, I used the name of the guy who is the team's logistical coordinator. The scoreboard kept malfunctioning - it worked OK during the first game, but starting with the second game it broke down and was providing no balls/strikes or R/H/E information on the linescore. The official scorers were dodgy, with several clear errors not being marked as hits or errors on the linescore graphics shown on the telecast. And I was startled at one point to see a stray cat wandering just behind my commentary position; apparently there are several meandering the facilities, at least two of which have been given names by the production team.

The games I called were pretty decent, though. Korea defeated Hong Kong 5-1 in game one despite being outhit 8-3; all 5 runs came on 2 hits in the second inning (along with 4 walks and an HBP). My third and final game was humdrum, with Japan defeating Indonesia 7-0 in a game that ended after five innings (mercy rule) in what was probably a moral victory for Indonesia. But my second game was a cracker: Chinese Taipei twice took the lead on solo homers by their #8 hitter, but Korea twice equalized, the latter on a bang-bang play at the plate with two outs in the bottom of the 7th after a single by the previous hitter saw the would-be tying runner gunned down at the plate by 10 feet. In the 8th inning, both teams started with a runner on second: the Taiwanese took a 3-2 lead on an RBI double, but that runner was doubled off second base to end the inning, while Korea had runners at first and second with one out when a hard liner to second ended the game when the runner on first was doubled up as well. Softball at this level is such that close contests are few and far between, so I'll enjoy them when I can! (I hope I can track down the commentary recording at some point for my demo reel...) I should note that the TPE-KOR game ended so late that after copying the JPN-INA lineups to my Excel-based scoresheet and dashing off to the restroom, I'd literally just gotten back to my seat when I saw the opening titles sequence on my monitor...thank goodness my Australian colleague Jess kept bringing be fresh bottles of water and boxed meals for both lunch and dinner, even if the latter had to wait until after my games were done, and also jerryrigged an umbrella for me during the morning game to try and combat the glare of the sun.

Incidentally, below is a link to the final state of the aforementioned Excel scoresheet I kept during the TPE-KOR game, if you're interested to see how I went about tracking everything. I often kept score at Brave games I attended as a kid, and I've adapted the old system I used then into Excel, meaning I don't have to worry about paper blowing away and the like; it's not easy to update this during the game, particularly with no live information coming to me about substitutions (I have to figure out everything myself), but it's invaluable to have a system that works and doesn't require me to flip back and forth between too many files to find background information on the various teams.



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SoSH Member
Sep 27, 2016
No need to apologize for writing us a long update - you didn't have time to write us a short one.
This really will be a quick(er) update, but things are settling down here at the end of Day 2 - among other things, I've finally managed to coordinate a system whereby one intern sitting next to the official scorer will text/Whatsapp another intern sitting next to me, who can inform me of any substitutions that I may have missed. That was the one obvious gap by the end of the day; whether or not the interns understand softball/baseball enough to make the system fully work remains to be seen, of course! (There was one point during the Chinese Taipei vs. Indonesia game tonight where a TPE batter suddenly appeared on first base without me having seen what happened; no intern was able to figure it out for me, and I was bemused to see the official play-by-play after the game which just said "Player X goes to first base" with no explanation either! I'm looking forward to watching the tape of the broadcast on that one...)

Anyway, of my three games today, two were good: JPN vs. TPE finished 3-1 to Japan, but TPE - trailing 3-0 going into the bottom of the 7th - had the winning run at the plate with nobody out in the final half-inning. And the Philippines upset China 1-0 in the final game of the night, the only run scored by former Nebraska/Oregon player Hailey Decker after her double led off the Filipino fifth. (There are 5-6 Americans with Filipino ancestry in their team, including UConn freshman Reese Guevarra.) And as I was leaving the stadium, a married Indonesian couple insisted that I pose with them for a series of selfies, including a panorama series and two or three individual snaps. I'm a celebrity, get me out of there!
I'm definitely a sports junkie. I wasn't in any doubt of this before the past 36 hours, but I confirmed it writ large yesterday by using my mid-afternoon break to catch the end of the women's team semfinals at the nearby badminton arena, double-back and schlep to the baseball stadium to watch the final two innings of Thailand vs. Laos (which finished 15-0 to Thailand after six innings via the mercy rule), and then pop over to the 3-on-3 basketball arena, where I saw the Vietnamese women's team lose a heartbreaker to Malaysia before the Thailand men's team turned the screws on Sri Lanka. I kinda wish I was joking about some of this, but I have photographic evidence.

Meanwhile, today I spent more than 13 straight hours at the softball stadium, commentating on three of the five games and helping a Welshman through his commentary on the other two (keeping score and pointing him in the right direction)...and then, while walking back to the hotel and seeing that the men's team badminton final was still going on, and that Indonesia had made it to the final against China, decided to skip back to the arena and watch the end of that. Totally worth it. What a great atmosphere in the nearly packed arena from the home fans, even though Indonesia lost 3-1 and had to settle for silver. (Badminton is probably Indonesia's national sport, if you didn't know.)

Anyway, I had two Japanese blowout wins to call today among my three games, but I still had two massive highlights. The first was during the Indonesia-Philippines game: I had been talking all tournament long during my commentaries about how bad the crowd has been at reacting to foul balls, and that I was determined to catch one myself and not duck as though a grenade had been thrown at me, and sure enough, the Filipino Chelsea Suitos fouled one off to the left while I was sitting and keeping score, and I stood up, positioned myself and caught the ball cleanly with both hands. Not quite the Sean Berry foul ball I caught equally cleanly at a Braves-Expos game in 1993, but I triumphantly held the ball aloft to accept a round of applause and then had the production crew replay the catch and then show me seated back down on camera afterwards with a broad smile on my face. (After the game, a random Indonesian in the crowd and the president of the World Baseball/Softball Confederation congratulated me on the catch.) The second highlight was the Philippines-Chinese Taipei game itself, from start to finish, which I called pretty flawlessly with panache and humor - Suitos led off the game and of course I said, tongue firmly in cheek, that the highlight of her tournament must be my catch - and which was full of drama. With second place in the round-robin on the line, and the Philippines possibly guaranteeing their first Asian Games medal ever, the Taiwanese took a 1-0 lead, then the former NCAA player at Nebraska and Oregon Hailey Decker hit a two-run homer to give PHI the lead, only for Li Szu-Shih to tie up the game with a solo shot of her own in the bottom of the fourth. The Filipinos left the bases loaded in the fifth, had the bases loaded with two out in the sixth only for an apparent wild pitch to carom back to the Taiwanese catcher to tag Decker out at the plate, and then had runners at second and third with one out in the seventh and failed to score, again leaving the bases loaded after Decker was intentionally walked with two out. That left the Taiwanese to play station-to-station softball in the seventh: a walk by last year's Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team pitcher Sierra Lange was followed by a stolen base, a sacrifice fly to deep left, and a single through the drawn-in Filipino infield to steal the game for the Taiwanese and create a four-way 4-2 tie for second place between PHI, TPE and CHN which even the tournament organizers hadn't figured out how to break before I had to go off air. Turns out China finished second on head-to-head run differential, which means they play Japan in the Page 1 vs. 2 game tomorrow afternoon, while TPE and PHI have a rematch tomorrow evening in the Page 3 vs. 4 game - the winner of 3 vs. 4 plays the loser of 1 vs. 2 in the "Final" on Friday afternoon (loser of that gets the bronze), while the winner of 1 vs. 2 plays the winner of the "Final" in the "Grand Final", aka gold medal game. It's just like the playoff format used in curling, if you're familiar with that from the Olympics.

Of course, my day tomorrow starts with Hong Kong vs. Indonesia in the battle to avoid finishing last - both teams are in their first Asian Games and looking for their first win. That actually should be pretty fun, I think...then I get a longer break than normal (c. three hours) before JPN v CHN, and then after tomorrow I'll only be calling two games a day of softball or baseball until I get to come home. Bliss. (I just wish Trump hadn't hit into the Manafort-Cohen double play while I was in the middle of working 16-hour days and had time to enjoy it more...)
I've managed to find links to a couple of my softball commentaries on YouTube, but I think you'll need a VPN link to Singapore to make them viewable - this is Japan vs. China today (a 5-0 win for Japan that sees them through to the gold medal game tomorrow), and China vs. Chinese Taipei two days ago (a 5-0 win for China in the round-robin stage). Not the best games, but very representative of my baseball/softball commentary style...and the great defensive play by Japan at exactly the 20-minute mark of the JPN-CHN game is worth watching not only for the play itself but for my call, which hits all the notes I want to hit:

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Re: my commentary style, I'm really surprised at just how easy baseball/softball commentary has come to me. I guess I listened to and watched so many baseball games as a kid that a deep understanding of what baseball play-by-play ought to sound like has remained with me even as I've gotten older and focused a bit more on other sports, because I'm very happy with how I sound here. Perhaps I talk too much at times and should let the commentary breathe more (although I'm assuming that I'm speaking to an audience that isn't baseball/softball savvy and have to explain things I wouldn't have to explain to a normal baseball audience), but my voice sounds pretty much exactly as I want it to. And while the range of material I have at my disposal here is far less than I'd expect I'd have if e.g. I were the main play-by-play guy for an MLB franchise, hanging around the clubhouse and following league-wide news and results, I did manage to talk with China's head coach Teresa Wilson today and got some great stuff about what she thinks about living in Asia ("I try to get back to the States whenever I can") and whether the best NCAA teams are better than the standard of softball I'm watching here in Jakarta, and I'm interjecting all sorts of references, personal anecdotes and jokes and heaping playful abuse on the fans who keep dropping foul balls. Re: the latter, listen to me at the 1:31:40 mark of the JPN-CHN game linked above - someone drops another foul ball hit right at them, and here's the transcript of my call: "...fouling this pitch off into the seats and AGAIN a fan drops the ball - come on, guys! [pause, then deadpan:] So disappointing. [longer pause, then exasperated/under my breath:] I'm gonna send every spectator in this game to the outfield after the game for some fielding drills."

I have been getting a bit tired from all of the prep work and the concentration required to keep score of every game while commentating, and I think I'm not *quite* as sharp as I was a day or two ago - e.g., in the final inning of PHI vs. TPE tonight, I skipped a box on my scoresheet and credited an out to the wrong batter, which led to several mistakes before I caught up and apologized. But hopefully I should be able to get plenty of sleep tonight and be ready for the final two softball games tomorrow, and then an even earlier night tomorrow and my day off on Saturday. I think I've earned it.
The penultimate game of the softball event this morning was fantastic - Chinese Taipei rallied from 3-1 down to go up 4-3, the Chinese tied it up in the bottom of the sixth, and they went to extra innings, with the Taiwanese getting their runner home from second in the top of the 8th and China not doing so in the bottom of the 8th. So it's Chinese Taipei vs. Japan in the final, starting in about 45 minutes from now. (My only real mistake? Saying that the Chinese had tied the score at 5-5 in the 6th instead of 4-4, but I think I covered myself OK...as someone clever once said, missed steaks were made.)


Mar 1, 2016
Thanks for these updates, I'm enjoying reading about your experience at the Asian Games. I worked one in media services / press operations (Doha 2006, including 15 months of planning), and have some former colleagues on the ground at these Games, so I have a vested interest.
Cool...I used to think that I might well be interested in that sort of behind-the-scenes job in sports. But then I became a commentator and am living the dream (mostly), so I wouldn't want to trade this for that. :)

By the way, I've managed to upload the two clips I referenced previously to YouTube - first, my chiding of the fans who keep dropping foul balls:

And then that great Japanese diving stop against China:

Incidentally, the leadoff hitter for Chinese Taipei in the gold medal game drilled a deep fly ball to left field, and the Japanese outfielder made a truly stunning over-the-shoulder catch that I described in the moment as "Willie Mays-esque"...but I'm bummed that I can't really use the call because I got the fielder's name wrong. Not through any fault of my own, mind you: on the lineup sheet I was given, the one handwritten by Japanese coach Reika Utsugi, the Japanese captain Eri Yamada was starting in CF and Saki Yamazaki (great name) was starting in LF. Then, moments before the game started, my technical assistant who was helping to spot any substitutions during the game for me let me know that actually, Yamada wasn't starting the game, and Nodoka Harada was now in the game in Yamada's place. But what my colleague didn't tell me was that Harada was in LF and Yamazaki had moved over to CF, so when Harada made that stunning catch, I credited Yamazaki. And it wasn't until the spotter for Japan's NHK television sitting to my right - who very wisely had a pair of binoculars with him (note to self for future reference) - caught my attention and showed me a post-it note saying it was Harada in LF that I fully realized I'd goofed. Sigh...
I may have just witnessed the single worst play I've ever seen in a baseball game, during what was otherwise a fairly well played and thoroughly entertaining game between the minnows of Hong Kong and Indonesia. With Indonesia trailing 7-4 in the bottom of the 9th, they got the leadoff hitter on base, and he stole second during the next at bat. Trailing by 3, with a 3-2 count and the runner at second, the Indonesian batter tries to bunt at a curveball down in the dirt. The catcher threw to first to confirm the strikeout...at which point the runner at second took off for third, and was promptly gunned down for a 2-3-5 double play. Instead of the tying run at the plate with nobody out, they had nobody on and two out. Utter madness.

Anyway, the big game in just over an hour from now is Chinese Taipei vs. Korea - the KBO has been suspended for two weeks so Korea can send a virtual All-Star team to Jakarta, including the likes of Kim Hyun Soo (ex-BAL/PHI) and Park Byung Ho (ex-MIN). Huge crowd already in the stadium, and I've got a special treat lined up in the booth - Tom Valcke, the Canadian head coach of Hong Kong and a name some of you might know (ex-GM of Calgary in the PCL, former MLB scouting supervisor for 10 years, and also a year in the booth as the Montreal Expos color commentator), is going to join me in commentary after three innings and stay as long as he feels like it. So that should be pretty cool.
In a somewhat convoluted series of events last night which I won't bother repeating, I ended yesterday in possession of the cell phone number of an MLB general manager. So that's kinda weird.

Really, really great atmosphere at yesterday evening's Korea vs. Chinese Taipei game, which was unexpectedly won by TPE - they had a 2-run HR in the first, and Korea had a solo HR in the 4th, and that was all the scoring for the game. It was like a European soccer crowd, with the Taiwanese fans making more noise even independent of the lead they had for the whole game. I didn't get to bed until around 3 a.m., but being able to sleep until 9 a.m. helps, and I'm expecting to get a couple of mercy-rule blowouts to speed things along today (game ends if a team is up by 15 after 5 or 6 innings, or by 10 after 7 or 8).
I guess it was bound to happen eventually, but my Excel baseball scoresheet crashed on me in the middle of Chinese Taipei's six-run third inning against Hong Kong yesterday afternoon (the two games I called yesterday finished 16-1 and 15-0, the mercy rule kicking in after five innings in both cases), and when the AutoRecovery file opened up thereafter, I'd lost information on 4-5 different hitters. I guess a paper scoresheet could blow away in the wind or get a drink spilled on it, but I'm certainly more open to disasters of this nature with my electronic solution. For my night game, I was certainly hitting Ctrl+S every 30 seconds.

My sportsaholism continues unabated. I've woken up early to catch the women's medal matches in the Recurve Archery competition (the final being between individuals from China and Indonesia, so there should be a good home crowd), and between baseball games yesterday I saw about two quarters of the Chinese Taipei vs. Syria basketball quarterfinal and a bit of team squash group stage action. The best thing I saw yesterday, though, was the halftime show of the basketball game, four segments of which I recorded below. To heck with baseball - I want to commentate on THIS:

Re: the latter two segments, who knew you could stage simultaneous WWE-style fights on a basketball court?
My two commentary games yesterday were both blow-outs, as expected...sort of. The nightcap was entirely predictable, with Chinese Taipei defeating Indonesia 15-0 via mercy rule after 7 innings, but in the day game Hong Kong was only down 8-3 against Korea after 7 innings, which was a magnificent performance for them (and the first time they'd ever scored even a single run against one of the big countries at the Asian Games). Their bullpen ran out of gas, giving up 3 in the 8th and 10 in the 9th to make the final 21-3, but that felt like a real baseball game for a surprisingly long time. The Hong Kong-born, American-bred (from age 9 or 10) Matthew Holliday even hit a homer, and at the request of his manager I posted my call of the dinger to YouTube:

I'm really happy to have a day off today - 17 softball games and 6 baseball games in a 10-day span is, quite frankly, a lot to handle. I'm back from a bus trip to the "Kota Tua", the old Dutch colonial part of Jakarta (that used to be known as Batavia), and enjoyed a brief bit of non-sports-related tourism. Now, of course, I'm back at my hotel preparing to start some ice hockey prep work for the CHL, which starts tomorrow but which for me starts next Thursday. I'd love to just sleep and swim and maybe go to the athletics event at the National Stadium tonight, but I fear I won't have the time to catch up if I don't at least start something today.
Really? When I play the video of my HR call on YouTube, the commentary is there. (Can anyone else report back on what they're hearing?)

The video of my foul ball catch from a few days ago didn't have the commentary on it, which I thought it would have, because the video file I received from the International Broadcasting Center had two different audio tracks - one with and one without commentary - and when I uploaded the file to YouTube it defaulted to the channel without the commentary. But in preparing this video, I thought I'd followed a process that would combine the two tracks into one before I published it...and until your post, I'd thought I'd succeeded. Very strange.
I thought the attached file might interest some of the baseball geeks here - this is the scoresheet of this afternoon's Japan vs. Korea game (which finished 5-1 to Korea, the first three runs of the game all coming on solo Korean HRs), as written by one of the female Japanese journalists sitting in front of me and to the left during the game in the press area.

China vs. Chinese Taipei starts in about half an hour, and I was very surprised to see that the former Mariners manager (and interim Nationals manager, bridging Jim Riggleman to Davey Johnson) John McLaren is in charge of China. And also Red Sox coach, of course, back in 1991. Might need to seek him out after the game for a chat...

[EDIT - John McLaren, not Jim.]


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Dick Pole Upside

SoSH Member
Feb 6, 2003
39.932N, -85.848W
If it is indeed him, that would be John McLaren...
McLaren entered MLB as the Blue Jays' third-base coach in 1986. He coached for the Blue Jays through 1990, then spent 1991 as bullpen coach for the Boston Red Sox before joining Lou Piniella's coaching staff with the Cincinnati Reds in 1992.

John McLaren (baseball) - Wikipedia
Good luck with the next game!
And yes, I was posting on SoSH in the middle of a game I was commentating on. In fairness, the Indonesian grounds crew takes forever to tidy up and re-mark the field after five innings, so I wasn't doing anything else...anyway, Chinese Taipei got a 1-0 win over China, so they move to 2-0 in the "Super Round", with Japan and Korea on 1-1 and China almost out of gold medal contention at 0-2. We could easily see a three-way tie in the standings on 2-1 if Japan beats Chinese Taipei and Korea beats China, in which case the calculators would come out and run difference could come into play...which is better than what would have happened if Japan had won today, which would have made both of tomorrow's games utterly meaningless. So that's a relief.
Today's update is a doozy, or at least it could have been one. After Korea thrashed China 10-1 in the afternoon game, Chinese Taipei faced Japan tonight knowing a win would seem them through to the gold medal game tomorrow. However, if Japan won, there would be three teams tied with 2-1 records, and the two finalists would be determined on run differential in the games between KOR-JPN-TPE. I thought I'd figured it all out myself - KOR was at +3 runs, with JPN starting the night at -4 and TPE at +1, meaning JPN needed to win by three runs to reach the final. But I wanted to make sure, so I went down to the technical delegates room, from where someone sent me onto the field to meet the guy (named Eduardo, not from around these parts methinks) I needed to meet, and after explaining everything to me he connected me with a woman who escorted me to a copy room I hadn't yet seen in the stadium, where she copied the complete tournament ground rules, which included a section on Team Quality Balance (TQB). To make a long story short, the tiebreaker is actually the ration of runs scored / offensive innings to runs allowed / defensive innings...which in this case meant I was exactly right, because every game involving JPN or TPE had gone the full nine innings and the away teams had won. So JPN needed to win by 3...which I knew for sure, but I wasn't at all certain that both teams knew or even that the managers knew, given that I figured all of this out myself (before the competition officials had).

So Japan scored two runs in the 2nd to take a 2-0 lead, putting them effectively half-a-run behind, and it stayed that way into the 4th inning...when I suddenly had "a moment of inspiration", as I announced it to my listeners. If JPN was still leading the game by two runs after the top of the 9th was complete, you'd think their quest would be over, right? Wrong: if JPN's manager (Akio Ishii) knew what he was doing, he could have played to get the first two TPE outs in the bottom of the 9th, then intentionally walked batters until the tying run had scored and the bases were loaded. Then, if JPN had gotten the third out (on their one chance to do so), the game would be tied and go to extra innings - at which point JPN could potentially score three runs in the top half of an inning, win by 3, and go through to the gold medal game after all. If they only scored 1 or 2, then repeat this cycle: get 2 outs (or try to), walk in the tying run, try to get the third out, and then go to another inning. Crazy, right?

Now, what I hadn't thought of at the time is whether the hitting team can ever choose to decline an intentional walk. Because surely, if you are ever allowed to decline an intentional walk, you should be able to do so in this situation...and yet, Googling this yields nothing substantive (except for a Posnanski piece in 2013 suggesting that teams be allowed to decline intentional walks), and a search of the 2018 MLB rulebook also hasn't found me anything. So I seem to have found a hole in the space-time-rulebook continuum, one which I will try to bring up with my new technical delegate friends tomorrow.

Alas, a JPN homer by Tsuyoshi Tamura made it 3-0 in the 6th, and then two more RBI singles in the 7th and 8th gave JPN further cushion. TPE's leadoff hitter in the bottom of the 9th singled, at which point I began dreaming again of utter chaos, but alas a 6-4-3 double play and a fly out to right ended the game and sent JPN through to face KOR in the gold medal game, with TPE vs. CHN in the bronze medal game before it. Both games are earlier than normal tomorrow, starting at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., so I'd better get to sleep soon...one more day and two more games to go.
Amusingly, I spoke to a Technical Delegate this morning ahead of the bronze medal game, and he said that while Japan could have employed the strategem I mentioned above, the sense of honor among the East Asian baseball powers is such that this never would have happened. Huh. I guess that makes sense.

Meanwhile, I had a very brief chat with John McLaren this morning, on his way into the locker room from the team bus. He didn't exactly warm to me, but it was a pleasant enough exchange and something I can use in the broadcast today. Despite not getting more than three hours of sleep - I think it hit me last night that I'm just about done with baseball/softball commentary, possibly for a very long time - I'm super-ready for today, adding team pitching/hitting/fielding stats to the Excel comments I already had, making sure I know who is leading the KBO in HRs ahead of the two Koreans in their team (it's Jamie Romak, the Bull Durham-esque career minor leaguer who went 1-21 with the Dodgers in his only big-league call-up), copying down the NPB league standings in the context of Japan's appearance in the gold medal game, and so on. Let the games begin!
TPE won the bronze medal game 10-0 over CHN with a walk-off single in the bottom of the eighth. (Weird that you can have walkoff hits to end games via the mercy rule, I know.) So that was a dud, but I did have a funny commentary moment after the Taiwanese third-base coach almost got cleaned up by a sharp foul ball right at him and came up with his hand over his nether regions as if to say he wanted to protect the important stuff first. I had a chuckle and mused, "Ah, it's the little things in life, isn't it?" And after a pause: "And I'm not talking about the Taiwanese third-base coach!" I don't think I've come that close to losing it in a broadcast yet - my spotter and I were both laughing for 20 seconds before I got it together and could safely commentate again.
My favorite moment of the gold medal game, which just finished 3-0 to Korea (Japan had only one hit all game): discovering that Tom Valcke, the Hong Kong manager and my color commentary partner for today's game - he came up for all nine innings this time - was seated next to Sun Woo Kim, the former Expos (and Red Sox, etc.) pitcher whose games he called as the Expos analyst back in 2004. Suddenly between innings they were all smiles and handshakes and promises to chat after the game, which was really nice.

Shame I didn't get any really dramatic games to call this week - no walk-off hits that weren't mercy killings - but I'm going to have one hell of a demo reel whenever I can get around to editing everything. :)

Mugsy's Jock

Eli apologist
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Dec 28, 2000
Bi-Coastal, for the time being
Slow to post... and apologies for the thread sidetrack from my WHRB homie... but the thread brought back a memory and a story

A couple years ago the late great Manila Sox Fan took me to a game at ancient Rizal Stadium in Manila to see his son play for the leading Philippines junior baseball team. MSF dreamed of seeing baseball take root in his adopted home, but it never did pan out.

After the game, we walked out to center field where there was a small plaque honoring Cambridge native Eddie Waitkus. Waitkus served honorably as a sergeant during the fierce fighting in the Philippines in WW2, and wrote this letter to Ford Frick about the experience:

Dear Mr Frick. Chalk up another landing, and more points for a discharge when this is over. This operation was really big league. Our convoy coming here was under constant attack. We had our first experience with suicide bombing, and our navy fliers giving us cover did a terrific job of assisting the bombers to the suicide they wanted.

The pre invasion bombardment was a thing of beauty if you were watching it from our side. I got through the landing with the loss of nothing worse than a steel helmet and a lot of dignity when my pack got caught in a rope ladder going over the side.

After the shelling, the natives started to drift back, and to say they were glad to see us is putting it mildly. The Japs gave them a bad time. Most of them can talk English even the kids even play scrub with a ball weaved from palm leaves… For other details of what is going on now see your papers. They probably know more than I do. No mail has been around for about two weeks so we might as well be in a world of our own.

Not much more to add now, so I’ll close with my latest brain storm. If you could bring the games better known stars back from overseas (Greenberg, Lewis, etc) to play a war bond game in, say New York, admission by bond, I’ll bet a Jap peso you could sell a billion dollars worth. Nothing like ideas to while away the hours.

Sincerely – Ed Waitkus
Soooo...I was at Jakarta Airport on Sunday, feeling pretty good about having successfully navigated my way through my two weeks in Indonesia, when I got an email from Agent Tim. I'd been wondering when I'd find out about my KHL schedule for the upcoming season, which began this past weekend, and had been asking Tim to chase this up. Well, he got back to me, and his email very much took the edge off of my Asian Games high, as it would appear as though I probably won't be involved in the KHL at all this upcoming season. We eventually had a follow-up phone conversation yesterday, after he'd finally spoken with Producer Ben at DAZN to confirm the secondhand reports which had come to him on Sunday, and it would seem as though a) DAZN's KHL viewing figures in Canada last season were actually much lower than I'd realized, and b) while everyone in Leeds was perfectly happy with my commentary, that was not the case for the other ex-player commentators based in Britain, whether they were doing analysis or their own play-by-play. (The latter news doesn't exactly shock me, put it that way.) So apparently, DAZN is cutting back to doing one KHL game per week for the regular season, and for now they're using a pair of commentators based in Miami, a play-by-play guy and a Canadian ex-player - I'm not sure who they are yet, although I may try and figure this out when I go to Leeds on Sunday for my first NFL game of the season. I'm told that DAZN will reassess these arrangements in December or January ahead of the KHL playoffs, and there's a chance that I might become involved again later on - e.g., for the playoffs themselves - but for now I'm completely out of that loop.

Last season, my KHL work represented something between 1/3 and 1/2 of my overall commentary-based revenue, so this is a pretty big blow, and a testimony to my continued belief that in my current freelance-based situation, my job security is pretty close to nil. I have now been locked in for NFL presenting duties every Sunday during the forthcoming regular season at least, and I've got my CHL work, and I can probably fill some of my KHL dates with European basketball or tennis gigs based in London. But of course I'd already lost my soccer portfolio at DAZN, and with the KHL gone now as well, I'm going to have to use quite a bit of some of this unexpected free time I now have preparing my resume and good demo reels of various shapes and sizes and really start selling myself around. Does anyone know who the best people to contact about MLB/NBA/NFL/NHL commentary jobs would be? :) (That's a more serious question than it may sound, insofar as I really have no idea who the broadcasting decision-makers might be in particular sports franchises - who chooses who the commentators are for the Bruins or Red Sox or Pats or Celtics, etc.?)
Meanwhile, I've had it confirmed that my first NFL gig of the year is Steelers vs. Browns in the 1 p.m. (ET) slot on Sunday. Which, come to think of it, was the last NFL gig I had last year, in Week 17. But this game seems much more intriguing than last year's, for many reasons - Mayfield, Hard Knocks, no Bell for Pittsburgh, the broadcasting debut of Bruce Arians (alongside Gumbel/Green), etc. So that's cool, even if it does seem as though we have the same contractual rights that we had last year - i.e., no better than the 4th or 5th pick of games each week.
As I sit in my Vienna hotel room, having pretty much finalized my prep for tonight's game between Red Bull Salzburg and the Cardiff Devils, I've got the time to share a few links to other highlights from my baseball work in Jakarta, if anyone is interested - extended game highlights from TPE 2-1 KOR, and some of Park Byung-Ho's best work, including four homers (one of which went over the Green Monster-sized sightscreen in center field, a massive blow) and a great defensive play at first:

And check out this softball catch from the gold medal game - this really was Willie Mays at the Polo Grounds in 1954. (Note how I explained why I misidentified the left fielder at first...this really is all you can do sometimes in commentary.)

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Ice hockey off-tube feels a LOT different from baseball in person. That much I know about television commentary after this evening - that was one of the toughest transitions I can recall in my commentary career. (Not least because today was absolutely beautiful in Vienna, and nothing at all like hockey weather.) But I did my best, and I think it mostly sounded pretty good even though I was felt I was fighting myself at times. That's true not least because I was trying to put some of my commentary coaching tips into practice and use fewer words to let everything breathe, which can be very tough with so much happening on the ice at all times. I couldn't make it work as I wanted to with some of the goals, where old habits die hard (particularly my tendency to say "Puck comes in front...they score!" in a single millisecond when I should really just say "Score!"), but I'll get there.

Anyway, Red Bull Salzburg defeated Cardiff Devils 4-2, in a game that was 4-0 at one point in the second period. And that will probably be the closest game I call this week, given that tomorrow it's the minnows Rouen from France against the reigning Finnish champions, Karpat Oulu, and on Saturday I've got Zug from Switzerland against another firm underdog, Neman Grodno from Belarus. My goal is to do as well as I can and get out of dodge in one piece, really; hopefully I'll get better match assignments for the final CHL group-stage games in October.
IAnd that will probably be the closest game I call this week, given that tomorrow it's the minnows Rouen from France against the reigning Finnish champions, Karpat Oulu, and on Saturday I've got Zug from Switzerland against another firm underdog, Neman Grodno from Belarus.
Shows you what I know. Rouen led Karpat 2-0 late in the first before eventually succumbing 4-2 (a late empty-netter included), and then today Neman Grodno went into Switzerland and won 3-2 on a goal with four seconds left in overtime, their goalie having saved 41 shots.

I've been thinking about demo tapes a lot recently, and how I need to cut various clips together from different sports to show off my stuff to different potential audiences. (This will be my main project during the upcoming week.) And there were two goals late in the third period today - one for Grodno with five minutes left to make it 2-1, and then an equalizer for Zug with three minutes left - where I knew I'd just nailed my call of the goal itself, and then I immediately started thinking about how to nail the finish of the call not for its own sake, but for a demo reel. That's not healthy, and it's a thought I want to purge from my head.

On a separate topic, I was very grateful today to be able to swap my highlight voiceover assignments with Bob, one of the other commentators in Vienna with me. I had been assigned to do the highlights for my game, a game starting one hour after mine, and a game starting two hours after mine. This even though I was calling the earliest play-by-play game of the three of us commentators today, and there were two games that started two hours before mine. (Sometimes our assignments don't always make a lot of sense.) I was able to swap my later games to the earlier games and actually voiced them over *during* my live game - one in each intermission - which meant I was able to get out of the studio just after 8 p.m. instead of around 10 p.m. Which wouldn't normally matter, except that I have to wake up at 4:30 a.m. tomorrow to get to the airport in time, and the early return has made a big difference to my evening. I was even able to order a tuna-and-onions pizza (my favorite pizza combination in German-speaking countries) for pickup over the phone using my pidgin German, which I've devoured while watching the Georgia-South Carolina game in my hotel room. Wonderful.
So yesterday I woke up at 3:30 a.m. UK time (4:30 a.m. in Vienna - I watched the end of Saturday night's Braves-Diamondbacks game at the airport), and I didn't get home until 1:30 a.m. UK time, thanks to the Browns and Steelers going to overtime and finishing in a tie. I'm delighted not to have driven into a tree or another car on the way home; 5 of those 22 hours yesterday were spent driving, which is probably not a recipe for my long-term survival.

We've made a few changes to our basic running order for NFL games. Instead of cutting a dedicated 30-second intro for each game, we now have a generic 60-second intro which doesn't require a voiceover from me; I always enjoy crafting good voiceover text to fit the pictures on the screen, but not having to do this now does save me some time and effort. At the end of pregame, we now go from me to a two-minute prerecorded segment and from that to the live CBS or Fox feed, instead of me having to vamp at the end until the CBS/Fox pictures are live and we're ready to cross over, which again does make my life somewhat easier. We're now doing RedZone highlights montages during ad breaks in the first half as well as the second half, which nearly caught me unawares yesterday because I'd been told exactly the opposite (and had been eating food not long before I was told to get ready to go on air at short notice!). At halftime, we're not showing highlights from the first half of our game, but instead focusing on RedZone stuff and halftime scores from other games before moving to pre-cut content. And I'm getting involved in a bit more DAZN cross-promotion - e.g., I referenced DAZN's live and exclusive Canadian coverage of the UEFA Champions League at one point yesterday, and at the very end of the broadcast I signed off over the top of live RedZone footage after reminding everyone that DAZN is the only way to watch RedZone in Canada. (The latter was fun, in that I very briefly got to be Scott Hanson and describe what was happening live on RedZone - Philip Rivers had the Chargers deep in Chiefs' territory.)

As for my own performance, I had a few early glitches but nothing that couldn't be chalked up to normal rust - and I'm sure I'll be better next week on a normal rest and travel schedule anyway. And I had some lines that I thought were funny, and when I trusted myself to narrate what I was seeing on the screen and stayed slower and steadier I think I sounded very good. One other thing: our engineers managed to rig up our two-screen setup so that I was watching our normal gallery (broadcast) feed on one monitor as normal, but we had the other monitor split-screened so that it had both the raw front-haul feed from CBS from Cleveland on one side and also the live RedZone feed on the other. In the past, I've always watched the RedZone feed off of the DAZN portal, which has around a 90-second delay and is prone to normal internet buffering, etc., and it's a big bonus to be able to get it in real time particularly at the end of the day when I'm trying to give real-time updates on what is happening elsewhere. The downside is that I have to control the sound for each of the three feeds off of the same panel I use to communicate with the control room, and particularly with me being so sleep-deprived yesterday, trying to remember which knob controlled which volume was not at all straightforward. At least once, in trying to mute the RedZone volume I also muted the control room volume and was wondering why I wasn't getting any cues going into or out of my highlights segment. And at another point I accidentally pressed the button that held down the talkback feature, which meant that as I started to narrate a highlights feature I was only talking to the control room and not our viewing audience - although I managed to realize what had gone wrong fast enough and hold my nerve well enough to cover up pretty well for the mistake.

I hope those sorts of behind-the-scenes details interest you guys - it's certainly a very different environment and atmosphere to doing normal play-by-play, and while I'll always be a play-by-play guy first and foremost, I really relish the challenge and love being involved with NFL coverage in any way I can.


Silver Supporter
SoSH Member
Sep 27, 2016
Good stuff CP, hope you caught up on sleep. You can sleep when you're dead home.

I'm curious whether you relish the chances to, basically, improv about the game and riff live, like at the end of the games that you were mentioning for the handoff, or whether they're unnecessarily stressful and you're really just focused on wanting to call the games as well as you can rather than fill the air.
I'm curious whether you relish the chances to, basically, improv about the game and riff live, like at the end of the games that you were mentioning for the handoff, or whether they're unnecessarily stressful and you're really just focused on wanting to call the games as well as you can rather than fill the air.
I'm not entirely sure I understand the question (and the situation being described), but in general terms I'm very happy to improv and riff off of unexpected situations as long as I feel I have the background knowledge to do so. Having to ad lib without any material can be pretty frightening; ad libbing when I've either prepared a few notes, as I've sometimes had to do between the end of an NFL pregame show and when we switch across to the CBS/Fox commentators, or when I feel in control of the situation, as was the case on Sunday at the end of the show and I chose to vamp on the RedZone pictures we were seeing rather than sticking to a script, is a lot of fun and can feel rather liberating. As with all things, of course, the more reps you get doing something, the easier it becomes.


Silver Supporter
SoSH Member
Sep 27, 2016
So your job is, of course, not exactly one for those who fear public speaking. But when I read this:

At the end of pregame, we now go from me to a two-minute prerecorded segment and from that to the live CBS or Fox feed, instead of me having to vamp at the end until the CBS/Fox pictures are live and we're ready to cross over, which again does make my life somewhat easier. We're now doing RedZone highlights montages during ad breaks in the first half as well as the second half, which nearly caught me unawares yesterday because I'd been told exactly the opposite (and had been eating food not long before I was told to get ready to go on air at short notice!).


I hope those sorts of behind-the-scenes details interest you guys - it's certainly a very different environment and atmosphere to doing normal play-by-play, and while I'll always be a play-by-play guy first and foremost, I really relish the challenge and love being involved with NFL coverage in any way I can.
...I thought, "man, he goes from having prepared to describe live action, as a PBP guy, to having to just make up whatever about whatever to fill an indeterminate space of time as his production team lines things up". And while I imagine that sort of extemporaneous vamping kinda has to be in the toolkit of any commentator, regardless of job description, I can also imagine where that's a task that stresses you way the heck out, rather than giving you the joy you get from calling a live game that you've prepared for. Ya know, in front of millions of people sitting at home.