Diary of a commentator

ConigliarosPotential

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...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.
"Millions"? From your lips, etc.

But seriously, there's something of a false dichotomy in the way you've phrased this. All play-by-play commentary is improv, apart from any scripted opening I might draft. And on the other hand, a lot of presenting/hosting is the opposite: particularly for the pregame show, but also for parts of halftime and postgame, I know exactly how the segments connect with each other and I can write scripts or at least prepare notes to help me link them together. And even the ad-libby stuff usually fits within a structure, just as play-by-play improv fits within the structure of a sport with normal rhythms and rules. The roles are different, but they're not so different that the difference worries me, particularly as (in my opinion) presenting/hosting is much less of a specialist skill to acquire than play-by-play is. For me, it's a bit like moving down the defensive positional spectrum in baseball: you can move from SS to 3B or 2B a lot easier than you can move to SS from elsewhere in the infield. Play-by-play involves much more knowing when to speak and when not to speak, when to get excited and when to remain calm, when to trust your audience and when to explain stuff it might not understand, and so on...and those elements can vary greatly from sport to sport. Presenting isn't easy, per se, but the skills required to do it well are much more generic and I think more easily acquired, particularly if you're not required to be on camera. (Which is quite an important qualifier, of course.)
 

InstaFace

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Makes sense, thanks!

I just hope the compensation and job security reflect you having the "SS" spot on the spectrum :)
 

ConigliarosPotential

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Well, it's finally happening: I get to present a Falcons game this Sunday, when they host the Panthers. (I missed a chance to present Atlanta vs. Tampa Bay last year when I was in London watching my daughter perform in a musical.) This is going to feel very weird, I think...
 

ConigliarosPotential

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Humorously, my car effectively broke down last night, and it being the weekend I can't get any repairs made before tomorrow. It's like the football gods don't want me to present a Falcons game! (I'll wind up taking the train down to Leeds and back, staying overnight instead of making it a day trip like normal...but this isn't cool.)
 

ConigliarosPotential

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So the Falcons are now 1-0 in games I’ve presented. Splendid.

My broadcast last night started rather poorly, though, albeit not through any fault of my own. I scripted all of the pregame very carefully, and in our rehearsal run through, everything flowed pretty smoothly. But when we went live, although I nailed the introduction and we were fine coming out of our first pre-recorded feature, our guys in the control room were slow in switching out of a graphics package to some transition shots of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, and then when they did switch out they went to pictures of Cam Newton instead. I was supposed to talk for about a minute over a separate graphics package about the difference between Freeman’s and Coleman’s running styles before we transitioned quickly to a long interview with Newton, but instead I had to quickly move us along to the Newton interview, and in the end we had to double back very inartfully to the Freeman/Coleman graphics to make sure we weren’t short of time. I was proud of myself for not blowing a gasket to the control room, and instead realizing that although they’d made a mistake, we had to live with it, and shouting at them or strongly asking what the heck was going on wouldn’t help matters at all. They told me I could blame “technical difficulties” when we came out of the Newton interview, but I took the high road and tried to cover as best I could – it’s a team effort, not me versus the crew or anything like that.

Once the actual game started, though, everything worked very well. I really enjoyed the RedZone highlights packages, and I think that was the best halftime segment I’ve done so far for DAZN. Throughout the second half I was doing my own research on top of the notes I was being fed by our RedZone editor, adding more color on top of the bare bones facts…and then after the game was over, I actually got to do my longest Scott Hanson impersonation yet. The very last thing we’re now doing, while saying my thank yous and goodbyes, is cutting to a live look at RedZone and reminding everyone that the RedZone channel is exclusive to DAZN across Canada, and it so happened that we went to RedZone right as they were in a double box with the final play from Eagles-Bucs on the right and Mason Crosby lining up with 0:04 left in regulation time to try and kick the 52-yard winner for Green Bay against Minnesota on the left. So suddenly I was narrating both plays just like Hanson, and the producer spoke in my ear to say I should keep going, and Crosby sliced his kick through for what seemed like the winning points I noticed that the celebrations weren’t quite right, and I guessed – correctly – that the Vikings had called a timeout. So with the Eagles now done and RedZone now just showing Lambeau, I got told to kick it across to the commentary team for the kick; unfortunately I blanked on Kevin Burkhardt’s name before the kick, but I transitioned out of the kick well and also got to “call” Josh Allen’s late TD pass for Buffalo before we finished things up (just as Big Ben was scrambling in for a TD against the Chiefs).

We had a quick post-show debrief, and it seems like we might do that sort of lengthy RedZone look-in again; now that I’m aware it’s a possibility, I’ll definitely prepare more to take on the Hanson-esque role, ensuring I’ve got a list of all players at all skill positions for each team in each game I’m covering at my fingertips and also making sure I’ve got the list of commentators for each game to hand. Additionally, we talked about what had gone wrong during the pregame show, and I think I’m going to move away from scripting everything at such length – I should be able to trust myself now to talk from bullet points rather than paragraphs, and taking that approach should make it easier for me to cover should anything else go wrong, as I’ll be looking more at the screen and less at my notes. It might take a few weeks before I feel fully comfortable doing this, but I think this is probably my best way forward – if I’m going to fully learn what to me is the relatively new skill of presenting, I need to take the training wheels off and commit to this new way of working. (I did ask Producer James if they can try to get an outline of content to be used in each graphics package to me sooner on Sunday than has been happening at present, which he agreed he can do and which should help.)
 

ConigliarosPotential

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My NFL game on Sunday is Colts-Eagles. It's not the best slate on Sunday, IMHO, and this isn't the best game we could have gotten, but it does have some intrigue, including the return of Carson Wentz to the Super Bowl champs. I had submitted a list of ideas to Producer James on Monday, and one of them - doing more live RedZone look-ins during the broadcast itself, rather than just fleetingly at the end of the game - seems to have been positively received. So I may get more of a chance to be Scott Hansen again than I may have previously thought!

Meanwhile, Agent Tim called me today with an intriguing proposition: he's helping a computer games company source a commentator to voice over content in a Virtual Reality basketball game. I don't know any more than that at this stage, but I do know that Tim represents two main basketball commentators, me and an Englishman, and it's basically down to the company to hear samples of our voices (I put together a 45-second audio demo reel of my basketball work pretty quickly this afternoon) and decide whether they prefer an English accent or an American accent. Why anyone would prefer to hear basketball commentated on with an English accent escapes me somewhat - that's like asking if anyone wants to hear an American or an Englishman commentate on cricket - but who knows. More on this as and when I hear more myself...
 

ConigliarosPotential

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Colts-Eagles was fine on Sunday. I really nailed the opening, which involved me speaking for about 7 minutes straight and seguing from intro to schedule to team talking points to Andrew Luck to Carson Wentz to a Foles vs. Wentz comparison to me introducing a Wentz feature, all without a pause. And I don't think I had a single misstep, which was really encouraging; it helped that we did two rehearsal runs through everything instead of one before the game. My Scott Hanson impersonation during our live RedZone look-in wasn't so good, though; we got unlucky regarding the flow of RedZone during the two minutes we went to it at the end of the first quarter, particularly in that there was a Miami sack of Derek Carr and I only had the skill position player names/numbers to hand and not those of the Miami defenders. So we probably won't do that again, at least not apart from the end of our postgame show. Anyway, my other segments were all mostly fine, but rarely 100% clean, which is my real target. So be it.

This week we're doing Seahawks-Cardinals, which a) isn't the most interesting game, and b) is a late afternoon game, which means I won't be done until after midnight and probably won't get home until 3:30 in the morning. Ugh. But again, so be it.

The most interesting thing going on at the moment concerns that "Virtual Reality" basketball game I mentioned in my previous post. Agent Tim called me up yesterday to offer me the job - the company was happy with both me and the other English-accented commentator, but Tim put me forward on the basis that I've got a bit less work on the go than the other guy does, and because I might be able to carve out a niche with this company and get more work going forward (my American accent helping me to stand out). The fee offered to me was very attractive, the equivalent of the combined fee I'd get for calling something like 9 or 10 FIBA World Cup qualifying basketball games; I wouldn't have to do any advance prep work; and it would involve working in a studio on the outskirts of Leeds in such a way that I could combine a Sunday NFL trip with work on either side of the Sunday. After our call, in which I was enthusiastic, Tim sent me links to a couple of sample video clips of the sort I'd be asked to commentate on...and that's where everything started to go pear-shaped. For one thing, the clips involved 3-on-3 basketball - i.e., with all the action at one end of the court - and not 5-on-5 basketball. And my instructions were that I'd have to improvise my commentary, rather than follow a script...but that I couldn't mention team names or even the colors of the jerseys being worn. (All of the clips involve a generic blue team playing against a generic red team.) All I can do is reference player numbers...and somehow, in a 3-on-3 game that was being filmed specifically for this purpose, using real-life players and referees and extras sitting in the crowd, they'd managed to have one player on each team wearing the number 8, which is barely believable to me. With 3-on-3 basketball being more manic than 5-on-5 basketball - as soon as you snag a defensive rebound and take the ball out beyond the three-point line, you're on offense again - and most of the commentary tools I might use to slow things down unavailable to me (no team names, no player names, no stats, no player facts or background, no arena name), this looked like a particularly difficult job to perform well.

But more than that...after watching the clips and doing some internet sleuthing, I fully realized that my work wouldn't be for a VR videogame that people might play at home, but rather for a gambling company that offers "virtual sports" for people to bet on. Now, I'm not shy about mentioning point spreads or gambling odds during my commentaries, but I've always viewed that through scientific and analytic lens rather than a money-making one. And this project seems like the sort of thing that would target hardcore gambling addicts, the sort of vulnerable people for whom gambling ruins lives rather than serving as a bit of mostly harmless fun in the context of sport that can be appreciated in many other facets. In that context, the fee I was being offered felt like the equivalent of blood money. (In fairness to Tim, I don't think he knew what sort of job this was either when he approached me about it, nor did he have any reason to think I was at all squeamish about the gambling industry; I've certainly gambled myself on occasion in the past, and I'm not wanting to cast moral or religious judgments against people who do gamble, but this particular job seems to cross a red line for me.)

So after talking with my wife and meditating about the job offer further, I've decided to turn it down. I emailed Tim last night and spoke with him this morning, and this is a bit awkward for him insofar as he'd already recommended me to the client as his #1 choice. The other Englishman may not be able to take the job on either, in which case I may feel compelled to do it anyway, but hopefully it doesn't come to that. Because in addition to being uncomfortable with the nature of the job itself, I feel like my sights ought to be set much higher than this: I want to be calling MLB or NFL or NHL games or the equivalent, not slumming in the gutter of sleazy gambling sites.
 

Koufax

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Well that's a bit awkward. Too bad you had to turn down good money. The rules of the commentary seemed very odd. They can't make up names for the teams and players? Two number 8s out of six players?
 

ConigliarosPotential

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The Falcons are now 1-0 in games I've presented and 0-3 in games I haven't, and we could have had Bengals-Falcons today instead of Cardinals-Seahawks. (Which surely must be the worst game on the schedule, really.) Or we could have had Eagles-Titans or Colts-Texans, out of the few games that Bell Canada left us to choose from. Shame that we've already featured the Falcons, Eagles and Colts this year; hopefully this selection means we'll never have to go back to the Cardinals or Seahawks. At least I have reason to be happy I missed the Ryder Cup.

I'm really earning my money today, by the way. In addition to the normal pregame/halftime/postgame stuff, I'm being called upon in a majority of ad breaks throughout the game to voice over extended highlight recaps of all eight early games, as well as several RedZone montages from the three other late games - much more in-game VO work than I normally have. I'm very pleased with how it's all been going; we have a first-time NFL director who I don't think knew anything about the sport before today, but she's been perfectly competent, and I can feel myself getting better with every game I do. Reeeeeeally not looking forward to my three-hour drive home from 12:30 to 3:30 a.m., though - I may actually use up the rest of my mobile data to put the Steelers-Ravens game on my phone in the car to keep me going.
 

ConigliarosPotential

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Well, I get to present the Falcons again this week, this time against the Steelers. Given that I flew to Naples on Tuesday and am only just now on my way back home (I'm typing this in Geneva airport), it's just as well that I'm presenting my team against another team I've already presented. It's another busy travel sequence for me, with two flights to get home from Naples today, a day-trip to Leeds tomorrow, and then a flight to Vienna on Monday; at least the latter is direct, and at a reasonable time of day.
 

ConigliarosPotential

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I've enjoyed many, many more NFL games more than that one, let me tell you. Sigh...the Falcons are done.

As far as my broadcast was concerned, we had a second-string producer cutting today's RedZone highlights, and while he generally did a good job, his edits had a different flow to what I was used to - in some cases running on rather longer than I was expecting. Which can make quite a difference, actually. Otherwise, though, everything was fine. Just fine.
 

ConigliarosPotential

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One other note about last night you might find amusing: I was going through the postgame show and talking to the early-game scoreboard, going through each game one by one as I normally do, and I was in mid-sentence talking about one of the games when the scoreboard suddenly flipped to the late games. That was weird, I thought, but I tried to cover for what seemed like a mistake and started talking about the remaining lineup of games...when again, without so much as a word in my ear, the screen switched to the end of regulation in the Browns-Ravens game, with Greg Joseph lining up the 56-yard field goal that would have won the game. Producer James had told me we might be trying to squeeze in the field-goal attempt if it came to us live during our wrapup, but I wasn't expecting to get plowed over on the way...anyway, I was prepared and said, "Let's quickly go to Cleveland for what could be the game-winning field goal - our commentators are Andrew Catalon and James Lofton." Because when we did the same thing at the end of regulation in the Vikings-Packers game three weeks earlier, we had switched to the game commentary feed. But instead this time, we didn't switch over, so all we had by way of audio as Joseph yanked his kick was our usual background music at low volume. So as the kick sailed well wide, I just said "Or maybe not" and laughed, as that sentence covered both the lack of audio and the lack of a winning field goal, which everyone seemed to appreciate.
 

InstaFace

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Is Red Zone-style switching, either during breaks in your game or after your game concludes, a frequent part of your presentation? I mean, obviously, fans love Red Zone, but it seems like something that the NFL would view as diluting the upsell to people who might be persuaded to actually go get NFL Network or DirecTV / Sunday Ticket, where possible (I guess in the UK, that's Sky and Virgin customers?).
 

ConigliarosPotential

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Is Red Zone-style switching, either during breaks in your game or after your game concludes, a frequent part of your presentation? I mean, obviously, fans love Red Zone, but it seems like something that the NFL would view as diluting the upsell to people who might be persuaded to actually go get NFL Network or DirecTV / Sunday Ticket, where possible (I guess in the UK, that's Sky and Virgin customers?).
We don't switch to the live RedZone feed very often as such, but we do often include RedZone highlight recaps - one of the assistant producers spends the whole broadcast watching the RedZone and cutting/arranging reels for me to voice over live during ad breaks or at halftime. But remember, my audience isn't based in the UK - the games I present are for DAZN Canada, and my understanding is that if you want NFL GamePass in Canada (which includes all of the NFL Network stuff, plus some original DAZN NFL content like a weekly show hosted by Ross Tucker), you have to get it through DAZN along with the many, many other sports that DAZN shows. And if you want to watch the RedZone Channel in Canada, you can only do so via DAZN. So there's no question of diluting the product; in fact, I think the featured games I present are really the best of both worlds for people who want to watch a full game and don't appreciate the short-attention-span-theater element of the RedZone Channel, but who still want regular highlights from other games and also don't want normal advertisements to clog their airways (the ad breaks where I'm not voicing over highlights feature other NFL Network content, highlights from the Thursday game, etc., along with a few promos for other forthcoming events on DAZN). Put it this way: if I lived in Canada, I would absolutely pay for DAZN.
 

ConigliarosPotential

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I'm back in Vienna for my next Champions Hockey League doubleheader, and Red Bull Munich and Malmo Redhawks have both decided to play some youngsters I hadn't researched tonight (because they weren't on any roster I'd seen in the days leading up to today). Why can't the CHL be like the UEFA Champions League, where you have to have a set squad in place for the Group Stage and nobody can come in or out? Grrr....
 

ConigliarosPotential

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Tonight turned out to be rather interesting. I had to voice over two highlights packages from two early games during the two intermissions of my live game, and I nailed both of them in one take; the latter needed two slight edits, but the first one didn't, and that definitely helped me get through the evening with my mental health intact. As for my commentary game itself, it was muddling along - 1-0 after the first, 1-1 after the second, 2-2 late in the third - when Red Bull Munich got a power play with four minutes left in regulation, and then a 5-on-3 power play for 15 seconds at the tail end of that. Malmo killed off all of the power plays, but Munich still had the puck in the Malmo zone after the last power play ended with 15 seconds left in the game, and they passed it around, and suddenly space opened up on the left wing, and the Munich defender came in from the point, zigzagged with two seconds left, one second...the clock graphics on my screen hit 0:00 as he passed across to Jakob Mayenschein in the crease, and Mayenschein tapped the puck into an open net.

Now, I know from experience that the clock I'm looking at is often one or two seconds faster than the clock in the arena, so I really had no idea whether the "goal" had been scored fast enough. And my commentary reflected that - I asked "Was that goal scored in time?" rather than definitively guessing one way or the other. But I didn't get any help at all from the broadcast in Germany in answering the question: there was no replay with the arena clock inset in the shot. And in fact, the reviews I saw strongly suggested Mayenschein was in the crease anyway, and that the goal should have been overruled on that regard. So as the officials disappeared into a tunnel for a video review, I assumed that a) the review would take a while, and b) the goal was not likely to count, and said as much (re: the latter, at least). But after about 10 seconds, there was a big cheer, and the camera pointed at a referee on the ice waving his arms in the "no goal" manner, and then the Munich players were celebrating, and for a second or two I really had no idea what to believe. The goal was in fact allowed to stand, and Munich had won, but I still have no idea what the referee was doing in waving his arms like that, and again, I was let down by the German director in the arena for not getting me a shot of the referee as he came back onto the ice to give his initial verdict. There are many times when off-tube commentaries (i.e., me being in a studio rather than live in the arena) work just fine, but this was definitely one of the few times where they don't, and there really wasn't anything I could do about it except bluff my way to the end of the broadcast and say goodnight. Very, very strange.
 

ConigliarosPotential

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My wife is *not* enjoying me being home today and watching RedZone on the living room TV as "research". Luckily for her, this will hopefully be my last Sunday evening at home in 2018.

My CHL game on Wednesday between Bern and Red Bull Salzburg went to penalty shots, FWIW - Bern's first penalty taker, Gaetan Haas, had the puck roll off his stick into the corner 20 feet away from the net, without an offensive move at goal being made, but then Haas scored the winner in sudden death as the 6th shooter. Luckily for me, I get to do the return match between those two clubs on Wednesday, and on Tuesday I'm calling another team (Rouen) I'd already called earlier in the season. That meant I only had to prepare one of the four teams I'm calling live this week from scratch, which is always nice.
 

ConigliarosPotential

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My live game tonight featured a pleasant surprise, as Rouen defeated Nuremburg 5-2 to become the first French club to reach a CHL Knockout Stage. The game felt closer than the final score would suggest, with Rouen leading only 3-2 halfway through the final period, and I enjoyed commentating on the game despite just getting over a bit of a sore and congested throat. (Which of course is a commentator's worst nightmare...I did fear that I would sound less than 100% tonight, and I tried to take things easy early going, but as the game proceeded and my adrenaline levels remained high, I plowed forward and became more intense with no apparent loss of vocal quality.)

My highlights tonight, on the other hand...sometimes, the workflow can really suck here in Vienna. With 12 games and three commentators on duty tonight, we each had four highlight sequences to voice over. I was assigned the last four games, including one scheduled to end around 11 p.m. Vienna time, and my goal was to try and finish no later than midnight to give myself a fighting chance of catching the final subway train back to my hotel. But a) for some reason, only two editing booths out of four were in circulation, and I had to wait my turn to get started, and b) I was assigned a rookie cutter working on her first-ever highlights clips, and she made some pretty basic errors such as not ending each sequence with the normal "players shaking hands at center ice" montage that I can use to wrap up the game. So she had to do some editing on the fly, and I'd also gotten about 60-70 seconds into one of the games when her computer froze and we lost all the work I'd done. Grrrr. To make a long story short, I missed the subway and am now waiting to take a pair of night buses back to the hotel, which means I'll not get back until just before 2 a.m. instead of nearer to 12:30-12:45 a.m. Them's the breaks, unfortunately.
 

ConigliarosPotential

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On the plus side, my late return home last night meant that I could watch the Sox game - I stayed with it until they went All the Way with JBJ. On the minus side, I didn't slip off to sleep until at least 3:30 a.m., and then woke up at 8:00 a.m. (way before my alarm was due to go off). Went downstairs, got some breakfast, and then half-dozed until after noon like I was back in college or something. I've done all my prep and gotten to the office in plenty of time as usual, but I'm having too many games at the moment where I feel like my goal is to survive rather than thrive.
 

ConigliarosPotential

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I had a nice finish to my last CHL Group Stage game this evening, with Red Bull Salzburg - needing to win in regulation to top their group and potentially get a much easier Round-of-16 draw - scoring with just over 90 seconds remaining to defeat SC Bern 2-1 on home ice. Bern pulled their goalie after that and the game ended with the puck loose in the Salzburg crease and players diving all over the place. It's funny, I made a comment at the end of the game about how Salzburg had survived and advanced on top of Group G, and then I just said, "Incredible," as a one-word sentence quite intensely but in a fairly flat tone. And almost immediately after I said that, I thought it sounded like something Joe Buck might have said. Which...I think is a good thing?

I missed a call from Agent Tim during the game, and when I caught up with him afterwards, I found out that he was offering me two Basketball Champions League games down in London on Tuesday and Wednesday next week. (The BCL is FIBA's answer to the Euroleague and Eurocup, part of a schism in European basketball that I can't be bothered to detail too much here; it only attracts second- and third-rate European clubs, but the rates for commentating on it are basically on a par with the FIBA World Cup Qualifying work I've been doing.) Unfortunately, I can't make it work, partly because I have to be around to attend my daughter's parent's night at school on Wednesday, but also because the finances don't work out. I recently joined a UK-wide car club in my Scottish town, through which I've been renting a Toyota hybrid every Sunday for my day trips down to Leeds - partly for environmental reasons, but mostly because it actually works out as the cheaper option once you factor in the mileage and wear and tear on my car relative to paying a flat fee for a day's rental plus a much smaller charge per mile. And for a two-day trip down to London and back, the difference in expenses is big enough that the costs of renting the hybrid would be profitable enough to justify the trip, whereas in my own car it wouldn't. Alas, the hybrid in my town is already booked on Tuesday, and while there is an alternative option I could rent 10 miles away from me, it's also 10 miles further from London, and I'm not going to mess around with that sort of thing at 4 a.m. at the end of a super-tiring two-day trip. Luckily Tim has someone else who is eager to do this job, so it's not a problem.
 

ConigliarosPotential

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As I noted in the ALCS Game 4 game thread, my sleep schedule is so screwed up that I wound up pulling an all-nighter last night and watching most of the Red Sox game. The last time I pulled an all-nighter before a CHL commentary-related flight departure, 28-3 happened.

You're all welcome.

(At least this time I was rooting for the Boston team...)
 

StupendousMan

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Thank you!

Do you take requests? Could we ask you to stay up all night next week, if necessary?
 

ConigliarosPotential

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Sorry - it seems I can only produce a classic Boston sports victory when I'm getting ready to fly in conjunction with a CHL hockey game. And my next CHL game isn't until November 6. (The real worry is that I was also in Vienna on a CHL trip when Trump was elected president, and I'll be there again for the midterms...)
 

ConigliarosPotential

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Houston-Jacksonville was not a great game yesterday, but it had the distinct advantage of being a fast one - I was out of the studio just after 9 p.m., and made it back home not long after midnight. Definitely an improvement on most of my NFL assignments so far this year!

I had to deal with a couple of hiccups yesterday during the broadcast. One of them came when our production team accidentally reversed the order of the scores and highlights at halftime, showing the scores first and then the highlights rather than the other way round. Another involved the final package of RedZone highlights during the two-minute warning of our game - Carolina had just moved the ball deep into Philadelphia territory, going for the go-ahead score, but they weren't in the end zone yet and time in our game was winding down. I suggested that if Carolina scored a touchdown and time permitted, our assistant producer could squeeze that into the highlight package without giving me a separate shot list; he agreed, and shortly after Carolina did indeed score, he popped in to tell me that he'd get the clip added to the reel. But when I got to the key moment during my live narration, instead of the Carolina TD, we got another look at the Cohen TD for the Bears against the Patriots. You have to be able think very quickly on your feet as a presenter - much more so at times, or at least in a very different way, than when you're commentating. Because a live game will only go in certain directions, barring the odd Artest melee or other very random incident, whereas a set of clips strung together by a production team are at the mercy of human error and can take many different unintended paths.

I had one clear gaffe yesterday - in doing first-half highlights of Cleveland-Tampa Bay, my shot list didn't include the DeSean Jackson touchdown after the Cleveland safety that opened the scoring and before the Jameis Winston touchdown that made it 16-2. I remembered that it had happened, and that both Jackson's and Winston's TD runs were 14 yards long, but I hadn't written it down, and in trying to ad lib and add color around the game, I said DeSean "Watson" instead of "Jackson". I actually felt almost as soon as I'd said it as though it didn't quite sound right, but it didn't fully register until after the segment was done. But while my instinct is usually to beat myself up about this sort of thing, logically I think I should give myself a break: I'm operating with a fraction of the resources that I assume the studio crews at CBS and Fox have at their disposal, and yet sometimes they'll cut to the studio for a quick highlight from a different game, and the studio host(s) will barely sound intelligible, let alone eloquent. I, on the other hand, get a bare-bones shot list for each rapid-fire highlight sequence I'm narrating, usually (if I'm lucky) containing just the scorer's name, team and distance of touchdown for each highlight. So to add color and give myself the best chance of sounding more interesting, I'm also constantly checking box scores and tracking scores/scorers from each game taking place, trying to listen to the live RedZone broadcast for interesting nuggets (e.g., in narrating Trubisky's scrambling TD against the Pats yesterday, I mentioned that NextGen Stats had figured out that he'd run a total of 71 yards to reach the end zone, because I'd heard Scott Hanson say exactly that), occasionally checking in with our production team in their room down the hall...and when possible, watching a bit of the live game we're featuring, to make sure I can intelligently recap a game I'm not really watching at halftime and during the postgame show. There's so much to keep track of, it's a minor miracle all the plates I'm spinning don't constantly crash to the ground; of course, I could take the easy way out and just do the bare minimum with the shot list I'm given each time, but I strongly believe in trying to reach higher and occasionally fall rather than safely doing what is simple, particularly on assignments like the ones I have at present. (Maybe if my gigs were higher-profile, I'd concentrate on avoiding errors rather than adding value, but that's not a recipe for getting better.)
 

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Is viewership in Canada as focused on viewing everything through a fantasy football lens as it is here? I feel like a lot of NFL and even NCAAF coverage in the US at this point is assuming their viewers only care about what matters to their fantasy football team, and if you're merely an old-fashioned fan of one particular team and want to know how they're doing, you're a dinosaur - at least, on Sundays when it comes to telecasts. Like, in a lot of cases, from a competitive standpoint, the plays that result in touchdowns are the least interesting aspects of a drive, or the least effective way to convey the narrative of what happened in an entire game - and yet, as you say, that's about 80% of what a highlights package is usually about (unless there's a game-winning drive that they go into detail about). I'm kinda curious if that trend has developed as fast and furiously in Canada or the UK as it has here.
 

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Is viewership in Canada as focused on viewing everything through a fantasy football lens as it is here? I feel like a lot of NFL and even NCAAF coverage in the US at this point is assuming their viewers only care about what matters to their fantasy football team, and if you're merely an old-fashioned fan of one particular team and want to know how they're doing, you're a dinosaur - at least, on Sundays when it comes to telecasts. Like, in a lot of cases, from a competitive standpoint, the plays that result in touchdowns are the least interesting aspects of a drive, or the least effective way to convey the narrative of what happened in an entire game - and yet, as you say, that's about 80% of what a highlights package is usually about (unless there's a game-winning drive that they go into detail about). I'm kinda curious if that trend has developed as fast and furiously in Canada or the UK as it has here.
You'd probably be better off speaking to a Canadian NFL fan than me to get a proper sense of this...but certainly I've not had any sense that we're tailoring our content to fantasy players at all. I bring up fantasy-related stuff on occasion myself, but I've never been given any instruction to do so or gotten any sense that we're tailoring our highlights or content more generally that way at all. That said, if you're trying to hit highlights from 5-6 games in 90 seconds, the odds are high that the vast majority of what you show will be touchdowns, which is what we're doing. (Although when circumstances permit, we'll show other key plays; e.g., in our clips from Carolina-Philadelphia yesterday, we showed a really nice first-quarter Alshon Jeffery catch on the sidelines even though that drive only led to a missed field goal, and on Carolina's game-winning drive we showed at least two and maybe three plays before the touchdown, including the key 4th-and-10 conversion that made everything possible.)
 

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So I've got Ravens-Panthers this Sunday, which is very promising. Could have been a lot worse on what is a pretty marginal slate of games for the most part.

Meanwhile, I got a text late this evening from Agent Tim, asking if I could call a soccer match in Leeds on Saturday at 4 p.m. I texted him back to ask which teams were involved, and to express my surprise at being asked to call another soccer match for DAZN given that I still do have an American accent. While I was waiting for him to respond, I checked the major European fixture lists, and the only match starting at 4 p.m. UK time on Saturday is Angers v Lyon in the French league, which seemed to be about the level I might have expected. No worries...but then Tim got back to me and said it's actually the AFC (Asian Football Confederation) Cup Final between Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya of Iraq and Altyn Asyr of Turkmenistan. Good grief. I've signed up for the gig given that it's the day before my NFL assignment and I won't have to make an extra trip, plus it may open the door back to me doing other soccer matches in the future. But really, this is not one for which I'm going to come armed to the gills with facts and figures!
 

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So, at 1:40 a.m. I've finally finished my prep work for tomorrow's AFC Cup Final - or at least, all of the prep work I'm going to do today. (I may do some stuff after I get to Leeds tomorrow.) It's amazing what you can find on the internet! Here are the three files I've prepared, if you want to see what a guy can prepare in 24 hours about clubs and players in Iraq and Turkmenistan:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1gBt6uh70tYwgp9RBPVX10Awbuq_ucOQI
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1R2IJega9SnLyAlbLNZTWeW1i3PoOF85Y
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1VinoWqtQXfx8YoPhuE_SwL11c1SveWTK

I'm wondering how sensitive I have to be tomorrow in talking about Iraq from a non-soccer perspective. Two of the more interesting facts I uncovered along these lines:

1) One of Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya's better players was born in Baghdad on 19 January 1991 - the second or third day of the Desert Storm bombing offensive. How's that for an introduction to the world?

2) Historically, the "Big Four" clubs in Iraq are all from Baghdad - most of the Iraqi Premier League tropies have been won by those four clubs. But in the years after 2003, many of the best players in Iraq fled the capital for clubs in safer parts of the country, with the result that all four league titles between 2007 and 2010 were won by one of two clubs outside of Baghdad, and in 2008-09, none of the Big Four finished in the top four in the final league table for the first (and still only) time in Iraqi history. But that has now reverted back to normal.

I'm also struck by the fact that Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya is also known as the Air Force Club and dates back to the 1931, when it was founded in some sort of conjunction with members of the British RAF based in their Iraqi mandate - and its club nickname is the "Falcons", which is of course the same nickname that the Air Force Academy sports teams in the USA use. I wonder how many Falcons fans in Iraq were bombed by former Falcons fans or players who were educated in Colorado Springs?
 

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Today's AFC Cup Final broadcast involved many minor hiccups but no major goofs. These included:

--The computers in the commentary booths have had Microsoft Word/Excel/PowerPoint deactivated for some reason - I first noticed this several weeks ago, but despite my weekly requests to get IT on the case they still aren't working, which means any time I edit something on my prep sheets and want to print or reprint them, I need to re-transfer them from my PC via Google Drive.

--I spent too much time before the game trying to find some suitable video capture software that I could use to record my broadcasts directly off the DAZN computers, and wasn't ready to work on my lineups the minute they became available.

--When I finally got my prep sheets ready - after realizing that I'd completely failed to write down any facts for one of the Altyn Asyr players, and had to scramble to look up something for him - the printer didn't work straightaway, and I had quite a frantic start to my commentary (I was literally typing last-second notes on my laptop during the 10-second countdown leading up to my introduction). I also forgot to print off two of my prep sheets and had to do them during halftime.

--In the lineups for the match I found online, one of the players was incorrectly listed - Altyn Asyr's #24 was on the pitch even though he wasn't even in the 18-man squad I'd been given (which meant I hadn't printed out his name/number/facts and had to look sideways to my laptop every time he got involved).

--There were almost no graphics on the screen for the broadcast - and specifically, no time clock and score in the corner of the screen. Who knew that sort of thing still happened anywhere in the world? I guess it happens in Iraq...but I hadn't prepared for it by starting my own timer. (I was lucky the match started exactly on time, and therefore that I knew exactly what minute we were in throughout.)

--Once or twice I ad libbed promos for upcoming sports on DAZN over the next 24 hours, but the fact that the clocks go back in the UK tonight but not in the US meant my normal easy mental math (US Eastern = 5 hours behind UK) was messed up. I hope nobody tunes in tomorrow to watch Barcelona-Real Madrid at the time I think I said it starts and gets angry that it's already halftime! (Or that the match doesn't begin for another hour...I forget which.)

--Nobody in our control room(s) had any clue what the running order for the game was - no clue what was happening during pregame, going into and out of halftime, and particularly after the game, with a potential trophy presentation. We were told there would be flash interviews on the pitch, but we didn't know if they were something we could work around or if we'd need to abruptly end the broadcast before the trophy was awarded; in the end, we tried to work around it, but having a guy holding a BeIN Sports microphone say the equivalent of "testing, testing" on camera for 30 seconds after the game made us pull the trigger early and basically get the worst of both worlds.

Oh well. The game itself was fairly mundane, with the Iraqis scoring in each half and then the Turkmenistanis (is that a word?) awarded a soft penalty that their young striker, with a chance to bring Altyn Asyr back into the match, hit at least 5 feet over the bar. My calls of the action were fine, and only once or twice did I get tripped up by the (very difficult) pronunciations - the Altyn Asyr goalkeeper (Or-az-muhammed-ov) and manager (Ýazguly Ho-jag-el-dy-ýev) being particularly fun to say. I was particularly pleased with how I related all of the background information I prepared to the viewer: I used most of the general stuff I'd prepared, so it wasn't wasted work at all. And in a way, it was easier calling a game like today's, in which I was educating viewers about stuff they probably wouldn't know, than a random European league or MLS match I might parachute into, in which viewers might be more educated and I'd first have to learn the league and clubs and what the average viewer might know and only then tailor my research accordingly.

Anyway, in the next booth over, my old partner Lee Hendrie was doing color commentary on Empoli-Juventus alongside Rob Palmer, to whom I introduced myself. I know Palmer's voice well: he was the #1 La Liga commentator for Sky Sports for many years and would probably be calling the Clasico tomorrow from Barcelona had Sky not lost the Spanish league rights for this season. Our matches both kicked off at 5 p.m. UK time; I asked Rob if he wanted to trade, and he laughed in sympathy but declined.
 

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Just a few quick notes on my Ravens-Panthers broadcast today:

--I need to plan my Sunday eating schedule better. It's quite tough to know you could be on air at any point from roughly 5:45 to 9:15 p.m. (one hour earlier than that today because we went off British Summer Time a week before US Daylight Savings ends); today, I tried to sneak in half of the footlong Subway sandwich I'd bought around 20 minutes before we went on the air, rather than waiting until after pregame and before my first highlights segment, but it hadn't fully cleared my system when I started talking, with the effect that I didn't as fully in control of my breathing as I would have liked. I think I just need to bite the bullet and make sure a) I'm done eating one hour before the broadcast, and b) I have to deal with going hungry until after we're completely done, not counting perhaps the odd piece of hard candy I can suck in such a way that no debris might wind up in my airwaves.

--I printed off roster sheets for all of today's games (including the Wembley game and the three late-afternoon games) and was tracking all of the touchdowns, turnovers and field goals kicked/missed for all of the 1 p.m. starts in such a way that at the end of the game, when we were going through the scoreboard, I could easily summarize who scored and from how far out on a game-by-game basis. I was really nailing all of that, and as we came out of one final boxing promo we cut to the RedZone Channel - our final scene - just as Fitzpatrick had 4th and 3 deep in Bengals territory, looking to tie the game. I had my sheets in front of me, all ready to do a play-by-play call of the biggest moment in all of the early afternoon games today...when Marvin Lewis of course called a timeout. I blamed him for making us "lose our mojo", as RedZone cut to the lone Giants TD of the day; I quickly shuffled my papers to the Redskins-Giants sheet and quickly identified not only that Evan Engram had caught the TD pass, but the name of the Redskins player who recovered the onside kick. To my eternal frustration, at that point I decided to wrap things up and say goodbye instead of insisting we stick around for Tampa Bay's fourth-down conversion attempt - which of course resulted in a touchdown, followed by the tying two-point conversion. Not only would that have been great for me personally, surely it would have been better for any fans still watching, sticking with the action rather than cutting away like a Fox affiliate reaching a predetermined endpoint and having to cut away to local programming. Ugh. I'll know for next time...if there is a next time like that!
 

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Ugh...I have to present Broncos-Texans on Sunday. Which isn't a bad game as such - particularly now that Demaryius Thomas has been traded from the former to the latter - but it starts after 4 p.m., which means I won't be leaving Leeds until after midnight, and I have to be at Edinburgh Airport around 8 a.m. to fly to Vienna. If I get three hours' sleep on Monday morning, I'll be very lucky indeed.
 

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Well, I survived my travel hell in decent shape and have made it to my hotel room in Vienna. Broncos-Texans finished just after midnight UK time, and I managed to escape the office and drive all the way home in less than three hours, and as such managed to get a touch over three hours' sleep last night. Probably at least one more hour of sleep than I'd expected to get.

I absolutely laid into Vance Joseph twice during my broadcast - at halftime for both the challenge he botched (Hopkins' catch wouldn't have been a catch last year but clearly was a catch this year), for trying a 62-yard FG with half a minute still on the clock (setting up Houston with a short field after the miss) and for icing Fairbairn on the FG he himself missed before making the subsequent kick (citing Napoleon's question as to which of his generals were lucky, on the basis that Joseph clearly has no luck at all), but particularly in the postgame show for settling for a 51-yard FG when he could have tried to move McManus closer. I called it "coaching malpractice" and was pretty hot about it, and I think I had every right to sound that aggrieved.

Meanwhile, the game-winning FG attempt in Denver went wide moments before the Seahawks lined up for their untimed down at the end of their game against the Chargers, trying to score from the 1 (and then the 6 after a false start), so we cut straight across to that game rather than follow our running order - I had a mental blank on Kevin Harlan's name and just said "let's join our CBS announcing team", but otherwise I think I handled the transitions in and out of that really well. I look forward to hearing how that sounded when I get to the studio on Sunday.

One thing I've started doing in recent weeks is printing off Excel-based rosters for both teams in each of the Sunday afternoon games, one sheet of paper per game, like so:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1q9HqyrfietccZLH-V21CKhS7TrliHWT8

I highlight the quarterbacks in yellow and then highlight all TD scorers in orange over the course of the game, writing down the yardages of each score in the space provided (differentiating between running/passing/defensive TDs with different colors) and also tracking TDs/INTs for each quarterback and other incidents like forced fumbles and the like. This gives me a single cheat sheet for each game that I can hold up while voicing over the highlights and use to fill in any gaps in player identification or factual information...and in a situation like the end of that Seahawks-Chargers game yesterday, I can also use it to do impromptu play-by-play (e.g., identifying which two Chargers players were closest to defending Wilson's final pass after we came back to the studio from the CBS announcers but while replays were still being shown on screen). It's a system that has worked well, I think, and I'll keep refining it in the weeks to come.
 
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This is still the best thread on SoSH. I love seeing prep work like that, clearly makes it easy to shuffle around and edit for each subsequent week.

Just like how your color-commentary notes really illuminates what an informed person thought important about a game.
 

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This is still the best thread on SoSH.
I can't agree with that at all, but thanks. :) It's nice to be reminded that I'm *not* [edit] writing this thread into a vacuum...

Last night I was back in Vienna for the CHL Round of 16, 1st leg game between Rouen Dragons and Red Bull Salzburg, which finished 3-3. Red Bull's goalie was the former Harvard netminder Steve Michalek - I should probably track him down and send him a message or something. I've now called three CHL games this season for both teams (Michalek starting each time for Salzburg), which certainly helped my prep work for yesterday, but more than that I'm trying a bit harder to put myself in the right mental space for each broadcast I do. While driving down to Leeds on Sunday, I realized that I was listening to so many podcasts in my travels and trying to absorb as much information as possible, the effect was becoming self-defeating - I immediately put some classical music on for a while instead and just let the miles wash over me, and I felt better immediately (and in a better place by the time the broadcast started than I might have been). Mental acuity is a larger part of this job than I sometimes realize: you need to be sharp all the time to get the best results, and being sharp doesn't just happen by itself. Last night I got myself in a pretty good place before the game started, and in listening to the seven-minute stretch in the first period when the first four goals went in, I realized that would probably make a solid demo reel in and of itself: again, having a recent familiarity with everyone's names and numbers certainly helped, but I put myself in the right situation for that familiarity to pay off for my listeners.
 
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I got an email from Producer James in Leeds today which just said this:
RISE UP!

Falcons/Browns this week.
My third Falcons game of the year! I have to say...from a neutral perspective, both the Falcons and the Browns have been very watchable this year (if not always decent), so there should be plenty of storylines and intrigue for this one.
 

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https://drive.google.com/open?id=1QjOWPhZZwPO9LCxbZj2v3MisWnXosMbL

That's what my Excel prep file looks like for tomorrow's NFL broadcast - I've taken the basic rosters and gone through and added some stats across the board so I can refer to QB TDs/INTs, rating and yards per attempt; RB rushes, YPA and TDs; WR/TE catches and TDs and a few other stats where applicable (yards per catch or number of targets); defensive stats, including for everyone who has scored a TD and gotten an INT and some of the sack leaders for each team; FG and missed XP stats for all the kickers; and also a log of anyone who has scored a kickoff or punt return TD. This *should* give me enough information at my fingertips to sound more informed and authoritative during the broadcast, and I've uncovered a few statistical gems I can add to the broadcast - e.g., players still on the Browns roster who are over the age of 25 have had zero rushes (RBs only) and only seven catches, which shows just how young their offense currently is. (I looked that up in the context of a mini-featuring we're doing tomorrow in pregame on Duke Johnson.) But even more than that, it's amazing how going through the rosters and researching all of this stuff helps all of the games and their players sink much more deeply into my consciousness. I can read all the articles and listen to all the podcasts I want, but nothing beats actually looking up stuff and writing it down myself.

One other random item I may mention during tomorrow's broadcast that I looked up: this is the 13th year of NBC's Sunday Night Football, and after tomorrow night, NBC will have shown Dallas vs. Philadelphia 13 teams in the SNF era. The only year the Eagles haven't played the Cowboys on Sunday night was 2008, and NBC made up for it the following year by showing them twice, once in the regular season and once on the first Saturday night of the playoffs. How ridiculous is that?
 

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I felt a little lethargic during my broadcast yesterday, but nothing like as lethargic as the Falcons looked on the field. Truly pathetic. At least our broadcast had totally wrapped up before 4 p.m. Eastern - it was a really quick game - and I was back home only a few minutes after midnight.
 

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In case anyone cares, I'm presenting Bengals-Ravens this Sunday. It's not a great Sunday afternoon of games, with so many good teams involved in the prime time games this week, so our options could have been a lot worse. (And it's also an early game, which means I should get a tolerable amount of sleep on Sunday night before my Monday morning flight to Vienna.)
 

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We had a first-time director involved with my Bengals-Ravens game yesterday. We did a rehearsal before the game, and everything seemed fine, but when the broadcast started I quickly realized that he'd left the microphone in the control room open - as I was reading off my prepared script, I was hearing all the chatter in the control room and also the hotline to the CBS truck in Baltimore. There's always a phone line connecting our control room to the production team from CBS or Fox at the stadium, so we can tell when they're going to an ad break and we can start our promos and filler content appropriately...and that phone speaker is quite close to the mic in the control room that my producers and/or directors use to speak with me. So I had a cacophony of voices ringing in my head during the pregame - which probably would have been OK if I'd planned for it and expected it, but it was seriously off-putting, particularly as there was no break in the 10-minute pregame in which I could stop and speak down my chat line to the director and ask him to quiet down. (Normally our regular director mutes the mic after counting me in for each segment and only brings it back up when he needs to count me out.) I wound up finding a moment to reach for the volume button - while speaking - and turn it down to a tolerable level, but that meant I could hear the cues I was getting toward the end of pregame to know exactly how much time I needed to fill before we shifted across to CBS via the 90-second mini-feature we produce as transitional material each week. The same thing happened at the end of the first quarter and early in halftime before I managed to raise my objections loud enough to matter; after the broadcast was finished, the director half-apologized and said that the mic was always up like that in every other broadcast he'd ever directed but that he knew he'd need to fit in with our standards were he to come back again. Which kinda rubbed me the wrong way in and of itself, but whatever...

Apart from pregame being a bit iffy, I think I did well for the rest of the game - again, I'll need to hear the tape to make sure - and contributed a solid moment at halftime. Our running order at halftime was supposed to be:

1) RedZone highlights montage
2) Halftime scores across the league
3) Me voicing over a set of talking points for the Vikings-Bears game, and ending by transitioning to...
4) ...a pre-cut feature on Adam Thielen.
5) Then back to me to voice over a separate set of talking points for Rams-Chiefs...
6) ...which would neatly segue into a season-so-far feature about the Rams and Chiefs as an MNF preview.

But about halfway through item 4 (the Thielen feature), Producer James told me we were over time and would need to segue straight from the Thielen feature to the Rams-Chiefs feature, skipping item 5 altogther. I thought about that for a second and figured that would seem really weird, so with about 20 seconds left in item 4, I asked if he could give me even just 10 seconds to set up item 6. It took us 10 seconds to agree, leaving me 10 seconds to figure out how I was going to cut down my paragraph of notes into a sentence, and then I was straight in with my short transition...which barely left anyone time enough to read the talking points graphic, but I certainly think it worked out better that way than going to Rams-Chiefs with no introduction, and after the fact Producer James agreed. Whew!
 

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I'm in Vienna and had an early night, by my normal standards - 6 p.m. puck drop in Oulu (northern Finland), game done by 8:15, highlights done by 9:15, back to the hotel just after 10:00. ZSC Zurich led 2-1 after two and 6-5 on aggregate, but a young 21-year-old Czech named Radek Koblizek ("Ko-bli-zhek" is the pronunciation) scored twice in the third period, including the winner with 1:13 to go, to lead Kärpät Oulu to the 7-6 aggregate win and a place in the quarterfinals.

One of the other commentators I work with in Vienna is a young kid in his early 20s who is still a university student and works on the CHL (and occasionally other assignments for our studio in Vienna like table tennis when the need arises) in his spare time. I've talked with him quite a few times, and he's a nice guy - and a Steelers fan, but we'll let that slide - but doesn't seem willing to put the time and effort in to get better. He never shows up more than an hour before any game he calls (usually it's nearer to 30-45 minutes before the game), and tonight he amazed me by being at the bus stop outside the studio when I got there even though he'd started his highlight voiceover work after I'd finished. He couldn't have been in the voiceover booth for more than 10 minutes for the two games he had to narrate; I asked him if he watched and listened to the highlights he voiced over after he was done with them, and he said he hadn't, which is pretty crazy to me. I'm getting pretty good at my highlights work, I think, but I always, *always* go back and proof my work to make sure I haven't gotten the score wrong or misidentified any players or said anything nonsensical, and usually I catch something in maybe one out of every three highlight segments I voice over that I want or need to correct. The only way you can do a three-minute highlight voiceover and not need to go back and review your work, I think, is to do the bare minimum of work: only identify goal scorers and maybe goalies, not anyone else, and never push yourself to add value above and beyond what you're getting paid to do. It makes me a bit sad, actually; he's got some skills and potential - even though I find his style to be a bit too staccato for my liking - but I don't think he realizes how much effort it would take him to be as good as he can be, and if he's putting in one-tenth of the time I'm spending preparing for my live games, I'd be surprised. (Although in fairness...if your goal is just to enjoy the gigs you get and leave yourself more time for studying or partying or whatever it is he does, well, he's not getting paid any less for taking that approach on this job relative to the alternative.)
 

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We had only three NFL games to choose between for our featured game today: Browns-Bengals, Ravens-Raiders and (the game we've chosen) Dolphins-Colts. Yuck. Actually, Indianapolis is fun...but I don't need to tell you guys that the Dolphins really aren't.

This is my first ever 4:25 p.m. ET start - the only other late afternoon games I've done have been 4:05 starts. It means I probably won't get back home until 3:15-3:30 in the morning, assuming there are no holdups on the roads for construction or accidents, etc. Double yuck.

Meanwhile, next door in Booth 2 it's just gone to halftime in the Lazio-Milan game, and I've just had a short and pleasant chat with Simon Brotherton, one of the BBC's regular soccer commentators. (He's probably fourth in the BBC's current pecking order behind Guy Mowbray, Steve Wilson and Jonathan Pearce.) I'd heard his voice through the walls before he popped out at halftime, and I realized that I'd never actually seen his face on television - I mentioned that to him, and he congratulated me for my luck. I've certainly enjoyed getting to meet a few people over the past few years whose voices I've been hearing for many years before that!
 

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One small note that might just interest me: I've got the real-time satellite feeds from the RedZone Channel and a live game on every week in my studio, and invariably any "live" action on RedZone is a full second or so behind the live single-game feed. So whenever my live game is featured on RedZone, the commentary I'm listening to is always slightly out of sync with one of my two screens.
 

ConigliarosPotential

Well-Known Member
Silver Supporter
SoSH Member
That was fun - I just narrated all 25 of Philip Rivers' completions to start the game against the Cardinals, followed by his only incompletion thereafter. On short notice I went through the full-game play-by-play on ESPN.com for Cardinals-Chargers and picked out all of the completions, edited them slightly, and then described all of them during a single ad break - they'd been cut together by Assistant Producer Chris - and only got slightly lost once. I'm really enjoying this game and my role in it; when we do a late afternoon game, we use all of the first-half ad breaks to show highlights from the early games (which I voice over), so I'm much busier than normal in terms of on-air time. (I particularly enjoyed making fun of Hue Jackson being presented the game ball by Damarious Randall after his interception of Andy Dalton.)
 

InstaFace

MDLzera
SoSH Member
Sep 27, 2016
7,893
But about halfway through item 4 (the Thielen feature), Producer James told me we were over time and would need to segue straight from the Thielen feature to the Rams-Chiefs feature, skipping item 5 altogther. I thought about that for a second and figured that would seem really weird, so with about 20 seconds left in item 4, I asked if he could give me even just 10 seconds to set up item 6. It took us 10 seconds to agree, leaving me 10 seconds to figure out how I was going to cut down my paragraph of notes into a sentence, and then I was straight in with my short transition...which barely left anyone time enough to read the talking points graphic, but I certainly think it worked out better that way than going to Rams-Chiefs with no introduction, and after the fact Producer James agreed. Whew!
And what on earth did that amount to? "And we'd be remiss if we didn't mention that a potential super bowl preview game was happening tomorrow, the AFC-leading Chiefs facing the NFC-conquering Rams, so here's more on that!"

I mean at that point you might as well go Monty Python for your segue, right? You're basically put in a "Ollie from Family Guy" position there.

Hope you got to sleep in after your late night tonight!