Diary of a commentator

Tokyo Sox

Baka Gaijin
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Meanwhile, I've had friends and family tell me they saw me on the BBC - first time that's ever happened, to have been seen randomly by people back home. So that's obviously awesome. The whole gold medal game aired in its entirety on the BBC's interactive Red Button coverage, but extended highlights also aired about 5:15 p.m. yesterday - this includes almost all of my big calls during the game:

View: https://drive.google.com/file/d/12dmg8wi3Nc422r9pqpXoOVTd-J9slvFo/view?usp=sharing

(The only exception is the crazy Michelle Moultrie catch off Ichiguchi against the wall at the end of the 2nd inning - Leah was making a point as the pitch was delivered and couldn't exit her thought until the ball was 3/4 of the way to the wall, so although I adapted well and made a good call under the circumstances, I understand why that wasn't really usable.)

Meanwhile, BBC's prime-time highlights show also featured this - parts of this guy's introduction to softball for (British) dummies strike me as genuinely funny:

View: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1bBx75INQdpWt6-EZzhZ3AhUIzOkNiFJZ/view?usp=sharing

To see "Commentator: Darren Kilfara" as a graphic at the start of these highlights packages is so gratifying, I can hardly tell you. :) (And funnily enough, this shorter highlight reel features the extended version of my call on Janie Reed's HR-saving catch, whereas the other set of highlights doesn't - I was very pleased with the "claw back" double.)

FWIW, my call of the final out is actually growing on me. I like its staccato brevity, and how I emphasized "Gold again", which was the point of saying it that way - not just winning gold, but defending their title. Oh, and I'm really pleased that some of what I said during the medal ceremony was actually used in the first reel - I looked up the medal table during the ceremony and noticed that Japan's 10th gold medal put Japan ahead of the USA in the standings (as per the non-US calculation whereby the number of golds is the first determination, not the overall number of medals), so I went with it, and it plays out in that clip pretty beautifully.
These are both great. What a game.

Japan vs DR baseball today sounds like it was awesome as well, I haven't seen any of the highlights yet but did hear my main man Muramaki Munetaka of the Yakult Swallows had a big hit during the 9th inning comeback. His is a name to remember, he's still just 21 and he crushes.
 
my main man Muramaki Munetaka of the Yakult Swallows had a big hit during the 9th inning comeback. His is a name to remember, he's still just 21 and he crushes.
Indeed - he had the RBI single in the 9th to cut the Dominican lead to 3-2.

Incidentally, as a peek behind the curtain, below are the exact player notes I have for Murakami - if you have any other notes or stories for him or any of the other Japanese players, I'd be very happy to have them and add them to my prep sheets! (And by the way...how should one refer to "NPB"? Is it "the NPB"? Is it exactly equivalent to "MLB"? Is it ever abbreviated like that at all, for that matter, or should I always say "National Professional Baseball" the way you'd say "Major League Baseball"?)

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Age: 21 From: Kumamoto
Club: Tokyo Yakult Swallows since 2018 - whole career
• 2021 stats: 83gp, 357 PA, .258/.387/.567 (.954 OPS), 26 HR, 61 RBI
• Career: 450gp, .268/.380/.525, 108 HR; 2020: .307/.427/.585 (1.012), 28 HR.
Awards: 2019 NPB Central League Rookie of the Year; 2020 Best Nine, Best OBP (.427) in NPB.
JPN debut: 2019 vs. MEX
Position switch: He began playing as a catcher while in middle school. However, he switched to the infield in 2018 after the head coach of NPB team Tokyo Yakult Swallows selected him in the first round of the NPB Draft in order to use him as a third baseman.
Youth: He began playing catch with his older brother at age four, before joining a baseball team at primary school.
https://www.baseball-reference.com/register/player.fcgi?id=muraka000mun
 
By the way, another funny point of note: because this is the Olympics, and all measurements are metric instead of imperial, the radar gun on pitches here registers in kmph and not mph! For the first time, today I thought to keep open a kilometers-to-miles conversion website so I could translate the pitch speeds to any baseball fans used to miles per hour. (And it helped me make sense of the speeds I was seeing as well.)
 

Tokyo Sox

Baka Gaijin
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The N is for Nippon (Japan), not National. It is the exact equivalent of MLB in terms of being the highest professional league here, and yes is often abbreviated that way. Kind of a weird abbreviation actually, mixing languages and using a letter for a word that doesn't get used that often -- everyone knows what be-su bo-ru is, but people typically say yakyuu. But anyway yeah https://npb.jp/ is the official site.

Those are good notes - his 26 HR are one ahead of Swallows & Team Japan teammate Tetsuto Yamada, and just 1 behind the Central League leader Okamoto of the Giants. He hit 36 HR as a 19yo! I do fully expect to see him in MLB in 2-3 years.

Speaking of Yamada, one perhaps interesting note on him is that he had three seasons in 2015, 16, and 18 where he hit what they started calling "torippuru surii" / "triple three" -- he hit at least .300, with 30+ HR and 30+ SB. For a few years his name came up as a potential MLB mover but at 29 now, that time has probably passed.
 
The N is for Nippon (Japan), not National.
D'oh! (Now I really feel like an idiot.)
Speaking of Yamada, one perhaps interesting note on him is that he had three seasons in 2015, 16, and 18 where he hit what they started calling "torippuru surii" / "triple three" -- he hit at least .300, with 30+ HR and 30+ SB. For a few years his name came up as a potential MLB mover but at 29 now, that time has probably passed.
Heh...verbatim from my notes on Yamada:

Milestone:
First Japanese baseball player to finish more than one season with at least a .300 BA, 30 HR and 30 SB (now 3x, 2015, 2016 and 2018).

(But I'm definitely adding "torippuru surii" to this line - and hoping I don't butcher the pronunciation when and if he plays against Mexico.) :)
 

Tokyo Sox

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Heh...verbatim from my notes on Yamada:

Milestone: First Japanese baseball player to finish more than one season with at least a .300 BA, 30 HR and 30 SB (now 3x, 2015, 2016 and 2018).

(But I'm definitely adding "torippuru surii" to this line - and hoping I don't butcher the pronunciation when and if he plays against Mexico.) :)
Ha nice. toh-ree-puru soo-ree!

Yamada is probably the best offensive 2B in Japan, and has been for a while, but even at the height of his offensive prowess he mostly DH'd for the national team, as Hiroshima's Kikuchi Ryosuke is an absolute defensive whiz - basically the Japanese Pedroia.
 
I had a Hamlet reference in my commentary - after one of Israel's singles I said, "A hit! A palpable hit!" (Just came to me, I have no idea why...although it technically should have been "A very palpable hit!") The really weird part, though, was that when we went to the top of the 9th inning, I'd had completely the wrong player down as the Korean #21 - it was actually Seunghwan Oh, the former MLB reliever, coming on as Korea's closer, but I had NOTHING on him in my notes. Between innings I frantically tried to look him up on Baseball Prospectus, getting the spelling of his name wrong multiple times in the process - their search function awards no points for coming close - but I JUST got it right in time to actually sound pretty intelligent about him, as you can hopefully hear in clip #6.
 

tmracht

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Excellent clips, a good old back to back jacks call never gets old! That second Lavarnway bomb was up and away and he dumped it opposite field impressive hitting in the 9th down a run, but jeez that was not the ending I was expecting.
 
By the way, all of this came after a pretty solid morning of Tokyo sightseeing, and then getting lost on the way to work in the afternoon (with a colleague) when we failed to get off a bus in time and then had to walk a mile under the sun in 90-degree heat and humidity. I've walked 15,000 steps today - quite a change to the last couple of weeks!
 

atisha

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Jul 18, 2007
67
Romania
What a game this was. Watched it all live on Eurosport Player.

The cheering from both benches made for a grand soundtrack, besides your commentary.
 
Was the original plan for you to be at the venues and then it turned remote after Covid got worse?
Nope - the plan was always for me to work from the IBC. I had strongly queried this when I first got the job and heard this was their intention - quite a few other sports are being called from the venue's here in Tokyo - but I'd imagine that the baseball being played in Fukushima and Yokohama instead of Tokyo is an important element of their decision.

By the way, I did get badly exposed once last night. There was an Israeli pitch which knocked a Korean batter down and seemed to graze him on the chin, and I called it as though it was a hit-by-pitch...and as the next pitch was being thrown, the graphic in the corner of the screen showed there being a runner on first. Obviously, if I'd been in the stadium I would have seen that this wasn't actually the case, but no, I got totally hung out to dry. It didn't help that both consecutive Korean hitters - the one not actually hit and the one up next - were left-handed...nor, frankly, that they were both Korean and (to me, from a distance) looked very similar! So that's the one moment when it should have become totally clear to someone paying attention that I wasn't actually at the game itself. Otherwise, I think I'm doing a very good job of hiding that fact - e.g., on all six HR calls I adjusted pretty quickly, and in a couple of cases (especially the "that is way gone!" call) I took a chance by leaning into the HR call almost instantly on account of the sound of the contact and the immediate reaction of the hitters' teammates and was handsomely rewarded.
 

RedSoxinIsrael

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Great call! I was following the Israel/Korea game on Israeli TV, so they were explaining every little thing to the Israeli audience that has no idea about baseball but will happily support their Olympic athletes (10 total medals - 8 of them bronze). Those clips are much better calls!

The near Korean HBP was really confusing (as the graphic was wrong too) and you are not the only one who got confused.

Was proudly noting to my coworkers watching with me about Ian Kinsler and Ryan Lavarnway's Red Sox history, with them creating all the Israeli runs via HR. I even got bad flashbacks to Kinsler's error to tie 2018 WS Game 3 in extras, when he similarly made a nice play but then pulled the 1B off the bag (and then collided with the hitter).

This is really fun to follow and you sound great! Keep going.
 
Great call! I was following the Israel/Korea game on Israeli TV, so they were explaining every little thing to the Israeli audience that has no idea about baseball but will happily support their Olympic athletes (10 total medals - 8 of them bronze). Those clips are much better calls!
Thanks! I had been wondering whether Israel would be taking my commentary or using their own people - I figured the former was more likely, but I guess there must be a few people who know enough about baseball to make for competent commentators, and it makes perfect sense that they'd want to present the game to people who aren't familiar at all with the sport. (Was the commentary in Hebrew, in English, or both?)
 

RedSoxinIsrael

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Thanks! I had been wondering whether Israel would be taking my commentary or using their own people - I figured the former was more likely, but I guess there must be a few people who know enough about baseball to make for competent commentators, and it makes perfect sense that they'd want to present the game to people who aren't familiar at all with the sport. (Was the commentary in Hebrew, in English, or both?)
Yeah the channel who has broadcasting rights for the Olympics also does some MLB broadcasts during games and they have 2-3 guys who can comment on American Sports (more NBA and NFL, but enough about baseball). The commentary was in Hebrew, maybe using some English for baseball terms.
 
A softball-like pitching duel today between the Latin American countries, as the Dominican Republic defeated Mexico 1-0. Melky Cabrera had the only RBI, while Jose Bautista - moved to LF after playing 1B against Japan - threw out a runner attempting to score from second base on a single. Fun game, marred by a bad collision between two Dominicans chasing a pop-up into short right field, one of whom tried to struggle on but had to leave the game an inning later.

I had an interesting chat with my future baseball commentary partner, Hans Frauenlob, before today's game. Hans has been listening to a fair amount of my baseball commentary and had a few notes for me, one of which I agree with and one of which I (mostly) don't:

a) He has a different conception of who our audience is likely to be than I've had, and on balance, I think he's probably right. I've been thinking that most of the people watching the baseball are likely fans of baseball, so I had been throwing out stats like OPS and ERA+ (almost always with some context, of course) and assuming that people could figure them out if they weren't familiar with them already. However, Hans - who has been doing Olympic commentary longer than I have - definitely thought I was overusing the stats, on the basis that a country like India (with its cricket tradition) is likely taking the baseball coverage and it's those people we need to cater to: people dropping in and out of the Olympic coverage who may or may not know the first thing about baseball. I don't think we need to treat them like baseball infants, but his point about backing down from stat recitation was well taken: I can refer to a player having a bad year in the Mexican League, rather trying to spell out how bad with stats (except when such references are totally on point in the context of the game).

b) I think he also thinks I talk too much. He didn't say that as such, but he says he will often let a couple of pitches go by without saying anything, which is anathema to me - I do want to let some stadium atmosphere come through, but at the same time, baseball can get a bit boring if you let the pictures stand on their own for too long, can't it? I'm trying to entertain and inform, whereas he's much happier to let the sport speak for itself; I think the latter approach works well for some sports, but for baseball, rather less so. (But I'm interested in others' thoughts about that.) I don't really know yet how we're going to co-exist working on the same game, but I have a few more days to worry about that before we have to actually figure it out.

Three other things:

1) I'm going to USA-Korea tomorrow! Excited about that.
2) I have to report for standby duty tomorrow morning at 7:30 a.m. - instead of being on standby after Japan vs. Mexico - because I'm going to USA-Korea tomorrow. Significantly less excited about that.
3) I'm about to go have dinner with @Tokyo Sox! Woohoo!
 

caminante11

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So you went to see the US game but didn’t broadcast it? That’s awesome. Just saw the end of it and highlights. Nice homer from Casas! Hope it keeps going for the US.

How do you break the tie if each team finishes 1-1 in the group?
 
So you went to see the US game but didn’t broadcast it? That’s awesome. Just saw the end of it and highlights. Nice homer from Casas! Hope it keeps going for the US.
Exactly right. I mean, I was watching a pretty high-level baseball game in stadium with 34,046 seats, of which maybe 100 were filled? I've never had such a relaxing experience at a ballpark in my life - sit wherever you want, move around as much as you want, and so on. (For a while I was seated down the RF line - right next to the field, to the point that I had a brief chat with the bat boy patrolling that part of the fence - and was I think on camera a couple of times, not that I really care about such things.) Let's just say that a lot of the seats in that park aren't designed for 6'3" Westerners, but when you can sit in whatever front row you want to sit in, who cares? It's just really neat for me to think that I have been one of the very, very lucky few people to get to watch a sporting event in person at Tokyo 2020.

Incidentally, the most revealing element of the experience for me was hearing the background "murmur" that was being piped through the PA during the game. It's the sort of sound that you can completely not notice if you're not listening for it, but it's there all the time, and it really helps everyone in the stadium feel like there's something going on apart from the action on the field. I guess it qualifies as fake crowd noise, but because it's almost imperceptible and isn't designed to replicate cheering as such, I'm perfectly OK with it. (It certainly drowned out the loud noise of crickets or cicadas or whatever those insects were outside the park that were very loud until I got into the park!)
 
Oh, and to answer this question...
How do you break the tie if each team finishes 1-1 in the group?
...not that it matters now, but it would have been net run difference, but calculated by runs scored divided by innings batted and subtracting runs conceded by innings fielded. I had an Excel worksheet set up to calculate live what happened if Mexico had defeated Japan by 1 run and everyone had scored and conceded the same number of runs (complicated by the fact that Japan walked off vs. the Dominicans with one out in the bottom of the ninth!), but thankfully it didn't come to that. :)
 
By the way, I did commentate on Japan 7, Mexico 4 earlier in the day. I definitely felt tired and somewhat sloppy, having woken up before 6 a.m. for my standby shift today - and I'll be doing that again tomorrow, which I'm not thrilled about. For example, Mexico hit a two-run HR in the 8th to make it 7-4, but I'd forgotten there was a man on first base and announced it as "7-3", only realizing my mistake and cleaning it up about 30 seconds later. That was a clear and obvious error, but there were other little things like not quite connecting my thoughts as crisply as I normally do, or fumbling briefly over certain words that at my best I'd sail right past. There's actually one good thing about my tired commentary, which is that I quite like the sound of my voice when I'm both a little on edge and a little physically fatigued - it takes an edge off of my intensity which I think makes me sound more natural and conversational. But I'd rather be performing at my peak, and I hope I'll get the chance to do just that again in the near future.

(I also got a random Facebook Messenger post from I think someone in Canada who said I should read a baseball rulebook so as to stop embarrassing myself. His gripes were that one, I didn't understand the check-swing rule - actually, what I said about it was clumsy but not incorrect - and that two, I referred to the 45' baserunning lane up the first-base line as a "channel", which is technically wrong but I think fit the spirit of what I was trying to explain to casual viewers if not the letter of the actual law. Needless to say, I'm not going to respond - not that I'm often on Facebook or Messenger anyway - but it is useful sometmies to have my ego pegged back a notch or two sometimes, even if by people who send Facebook Messenger posts to strangers.)

Anyway, my next gig is Mexico vs. Israel in their elimination game at Noon tomorrow JST (11 p.m. tonight ET).
 

Harry Hooper

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I had an interesting chat with my future baseball commentary partner, Hans Frauenlob, before today's game. Hans has been listening to a fair amount of my baseball commentary and had a few notes for me, one of which I agree with and one of which I (mostly) don't:

a) He has a different conception of who our audience is likely to be than I've had, and on balance, I think he's probably right. I've been thinking that most of the people watching the baseball are likely fans of baseball, so I had been throwing out stats like OPS and ERA+ (almost always with some context, of course) and assuming that people could figure them out if they weren't familiar with them already. However, Hans - who has been doing Olympic commentary longer than I have - definitely thought I was overusing the stats, on the basis that a country like India (with its cricket tradition) is likely taking the baseball coverage and it's those people we need to cater to: people dropping in and out of the Olympic coverage who may or may not know the first thing about baseball. I don't think we need to treat them like baseball infants, but his point about backing down from stat recitation was well taken: I can refer to a player having a bad year in the Mexican League, rather trying to spell out how bad with stats (except when such references are totally on point in the context of the game).

b) I think he also thinks I talk too much. He didn't say that as such, but he says he will often let a couple of pitches go by without saying anything, which is anathema to me - I do want to let some stadium atmosphere come through, but at the same time, baseball can get a bit boring if you let the pictures stand on their own for too long, can't it? I'm trying to entertain and inform, whereas he's much happier to let the sport speak for itself; I think the latter approach works well for some sports, but for baseball, rather less so. (But I'm interested in others' thoughts about that.) I don't really know yet how we're going to co-exist working on the same game, but I have a few more days to worry about that before we have to actually figure it out.

How will you co-exist? That's easy. Hans will be quiet, and you will do all the talking!

I agree with Hans about de-emphasizing stats. Maybe try to convey this player is one of the best hitters in his league at getting on base or this player is one of the best in terms of slugging. For pitchers, talk about a pitcher having a very high strikeout rate or maybe describe (without using the term WHIP) a pitcher who allows very few baserunners or conversely an effective pitcher who allows a lot of baserunners {Don't cite Pete Vuckovich with his 1.50 Whip in his 1982 Cy Young season as an example, though. No one will get the reference).

As to the second point made by Hans. I know this is a heretical minority view, but I thought latter-career Vin Scully on tv was compelling in small doses but quickly became exhausting as he talked too much. Having said that, the ESPN Sunday night games took it to another level with every broadcast team being ludicrously too talky. However, in your situation with a lot of "virgin viewers" I think you have to offer more explanation about what's happening, such as a good breaking ball hitter is facing a pitcher whose best pitch is a breaking ball* or the stolen base attempt was successful because the runner went on an off-speed pitch and not a fastball. You should probably talk about a pitcher or hitter with a large righty-lefty split whenever that situation comes up: "Player X is the top home run hitter in the lineup, but hit only 2 out of 30 HRs off left-handed pitchers last season."

BTW, how much defensive shifting is going on in these games?

* If you have that kind of info.
 
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* If you have that kind of info.
[NARRATOR: They didn't.] :) (At least, not often.)
BTW, how much defensive shifting is going on in these games?
I think quite a lot, about as much as you'd see in MLB...but often I'm looking for facts and figures between pitches and don't always see the quick director's cut to a camera showing the infielders' positioning. Not being able to see the whole field is a killer in this regard.

(Thanks for your other thoughts, btw.)
 
Well, it had to happen: I went to the restroom today, about an hour and 45 minutes before Israel vs. Mexico, and about an hour later I realized I'd left my phone there. Went back to look for it, and it was gone. So that was a fun way to prepare to go on the air! Luckily one of the support staffers with us had my Japanese phone number to hand - she called it, someone answered, and it was returned in time for someone to pop into the booth next to me and wave the phone at me just as I was working through the second part of my broadcast introduction (causing me to slur a word, I think). Oh well.

In truth, I was so tired after another night of only four hours' sleep (ahead of my 7:30 a.m. shift on standby) that I probably needed that little adrenaline rush. And then, around the third inning, I really, really started to need the bathroom again. Prayer may have been the biggest factor to get me through the game, actually, although the excitement of the game itself definitely helped: Israel led 6-0 after two-and-a-half innings, but 6-4 after three complete and 6-5 after six before busting out for six more runs in the 7th - with Oliver Perez being Mexico's most culpable pitcher in the 7th - to ultimately win 12-5. I knew I was struggling in the first two innings or so, but thereafter I actually felt like I improved significantly, and even at the end I was riffing on Israel's baseball history and @RedSoxinIsrael's note about there being Hebrew-language Olympic baseball broadcasts in Israel itself.

So that's it for Mexico - I called what were probably the last at-bats of Adrian Gonzalez's career (he finished with an RBI single and then a double, which is nice for him). I also really enjoyed seeing Assaf Lowengart, one of the true Israeli-born players on the team (he did his IDF military service in 2017-18), work a walk in his 9th inning pinch-hit plate appearance and then catch two fly balls in RF in the bottom of the 9th as well. It's funny...at the very, very end of all of my commentary assignments, after the final highlights montage with music and at a point at which it surely feels like there's nothing left to say and there's nobody still watching, I have to prepare a final sign-off of 20 or 30 seconds - and absolutely, definitely, no more than 30 seconds - that rights-holding networks may work into their feeds in some way, shape or form. And it was at the end of that final sequence that I came up with something along the lines of, "There's one true Cinderella story in this Olympic baseball tournament, and for the moment at least, the glass slipper still just about fits." Not totally original, of course, but given my sleep deprivation and my need of a bathroom break, to just come out with that on the spot was very pleasing.
 

atisha

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Jul 18, 2007
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Since this became the unofficial official baseball Olympic thread, two very interesting games this (European) morning and noon, with winners facing each other in the semifinals.

I am especially interested in the Israel-Korea rematch, after the thriller in their first meeting. Japan - USA is no small matter either.
 
The format is really weird. The winner of Korea vs. Israel will then have only to win either its next game (against the USA-Japan winner) or its game after that to reach the gold-medal game. The loser will have to win three games in a row to play for gold. (Similar situation for USA and Japan: winner gets two chances to play for gold; loser has to win two in a row to play for gold.) I get it, mostly, but this looks like the sort of tournament format that someone like me might draw up at home and post on a message board, not something I'd expect to see from a global sporting federation.
 
FWIW, I've had a much better night's sleep ahead of my game today - maybe six-and-a-half hours, and that after lounging in my hotel room all evening watching the track & field and the women's singles badminton final (and Japan vs. Iran in men's volleyball, strangely). So it'll probably all go wrong for me when I go on the air about 9 minutes from now! :)
 

Lose Remerswaal

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Since this became the unofficial official baseball Olympic thread, two very interesting games this (European) morning and noon, with winners facing each other in the semifinals.

I am especially interested in the Israel-Korea rematch, after the thriller in their first meeting. Japan - USA is no small matter either.
I think this is supposed to be the sport discussion thread

https://sonsofsamhorn.net/index.php?threads/commentating-potential-softball-and-baseball-at-the-2020-summer-olympics.34134/
 
Eh, I'll allow it. Much like the Israelis allowed runs today, actually - only 7 innings played in our first Mercy Rule finish in the baseball event:
  • Korea = 11 runs, 18 hits, 0 errors, 8 LOB
  • Israel = 1 run, 3 hits, 2 errors, 6 LOB
This is what games between these two countries are supposed to look like, not the two extra-inning games that they'd played before this one (once this year, once at the 2017 WBC). Not the easiest game to commentate on, particularly given the glut of substitutes late on - the information system froze after the 7-run Korean 5th inning, just as Israel emptied their bench of non-pitchers and got everyone into the game, and I had a heck of a time keeping up with who was who and where on the field. But I think I just about coped?

My proudest moment of the game as a commentator was probably realizing that I was starting to lapse into statistics-speak too much...and instead of backing away, leaning into it and explaining in layman's terms how important stats are in the sport, what "sabermetrics" are (and what SABR stands for) and who Bill James is. I don't think I should be embarrassed about being a statistically-minded commentator, particularly in a sport like baseball - but explaining *why* statistics are important is the key when communicating to an Olympics sort of audience. In fact, I think most MLB commentators tend to do a pretty poor job of explaining why stats matter, and particularly why certain stats are important and other ones really aren't. Maybe I'll try to continue my teaching work in this regard over the next few days...
 
Quite wonderfully, a member of the Armenian delegation just snuck into our OBS commentary bullpen and asked if we could change the TV over to the gymnastics so he can watch an Armenian gymnast compete in a few minutes.

(EDIT - And he won bronze. Got a nice picture of the guy pointing at his man on the TV screen once the result had been confirmed!)
 
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Today was actually my first day on standby where I spent a lot of time out in the bullpen with the other commentators lurking around (as well as the aforementioned Armenian). There's a constant tug of war regarding what to put on the one TV in the room - we had the USA-Canada women's soccer game on for a while before the athletics fans wanted to put that on, and the gymnastics had its fans, and the New Zealand vs. Netherlands hockey was on for a time as well. There are a real bunch of characters in the room, all the time, and everyone is talking about this sport or that sport; e.g., I was part of a long chat with Vicki Sparks, who had just finished commentating on USA vs. Canada, about whether Olympic or World Cup women's soccer is important, whether that was a penalty or not a penalty, and so on. I can't really get any work done in that environment, which is the main downside - and I still need to figure out what tests I need to take to be allowed back into the UK on Sunday - but today I could afford to slack off a bit, given that my one baseball game tomorrow (Israel vs. Dominican Republic) isn't until 7 p.m. my time. Might try to sneak in a bit more sightseeing while I can tomorrow morning!

(Actually, I'm kinda tempted to hop on a train down to Yokohama to catch the last few innings of the USA-Japan baseball game in person - currently 6-4, er, 6-5 USA in the bottom of the 5th. I won't, but I'm tempted!)
 
I'm absolutely beat - I went sightseeing and shopping in Tokyo again this morning, and it very definitely affected my commentary tonight for the worse. Not least insofar as I needed to make a trip to the toilet 15 minutes before I went on the air, and then needed to make another trip back to the toilet 12 minutes before I went on the air (if you follow me); I actually went out and told Hans and our commentary coordinator Jose to just be ready in case I needed to bail out again (possibly for good), but that nightmare scenario didn't come to pass, and I was able to go back out after the first inning of Israel vs. Dominican Republic and tell them that I was fine. But that's a clear lesson learned - again, and hopefully for the future.

I also had quite possibly the single most awkward conversation of my life with Hans about how we are going to call our four baseball games together. He wants to do the play-by-play too, because of course he does. To make a very long and not very funny story short, we've agreed that we'll call the first game tomorrow (USA vs. Dominican Republic) with me doing PxP in innings 1-3, him doing PxP in innings 4-6, and me taking it the rest of the way home from there...and then we'll regroup. He doesn't know this next bit yet, but at that point I'm just going to let him make the decision: if he wants to flip it round for Korea vs. Japan that evening, he can have innings 1-3 and 7-9+. And then for the medal games, I'll just have us flip a coin for them to see who gets 1-3 and 7-9+ for bronze and who gets them for gold, because I just don't want to be a part of this "debate" any further. I really do think my vocal range and talent and my feel for narrating dramatic moments is such that this ought to be a no-brainer call, even if a) he is a perfectly solid commentator himself, b) he probably has more experience of the sport of baseball than I do (which I think actually makes him more perfectly suited for the color role anyway), and c) he's got seniority of sorts to me within OBS. I just hate that I - that we - have been put in this position. And I really hate that we had to verbally spar with and dance around each other like we did for so freaking long this afternoon, to the point that I really began to doubt myself and my research and the skills I bring to the table. Grrrr.

Anyway, during tonight's broadcast I was caught out by the batteries in my mouse going dead during the 7th inning, so that was fun as well. But it was another fantastic ding-dong game that went back and forth and back and forth until Danny Valencia did this in the top of the 8th:

View: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1kGkBbhKMEauNQlexhZzJOBBzD_lxzY6q/view?usp=sharing

Pretty good call, I think, although "...for the Israelis!" after I called the score being 6-5 is probably redundant?

Then, to the bottom of the 9th and Johan Mieses:

View: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1VFHTf6txDR6vDGnWDlrcbKhJBO8Euw2y/view?usp=sharing

Great call of the HR itself (although "A moonshot, for Mieses!" would have been more alliterative), but I'm not sure about what I did next, giving the score and editorializing while Mieses was still rounding the bases. Maybe a game-tying HR in the bottom of the 9th isn't the time to experiment? The rest of the call, and silence, after he crossed home plate was good though.

And then, Jose Bautista:

View: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Lbyh2f_9SOpn5xd_G8jyViavI66yMfvV/view?usp=sharing

See, this is what I think I do very, very well: set up the drama, call the drama, poetically sum up the drama. (The very end of this clip in particular, in the context of the blown Dominican Republic 9th-inning leads vs. Korea and Japan...I love that.) But whether I'm allowed to do that for the gold medal game may well be out of my hands.
 
What does Diaz weigh?
Officially, he's 6'4", 315 pounds. (Unofficially, I'd take the over.)

By the way, I had originally been rostered to go on standby duty from 8:30 to 10:30 this morning (ahead of my two games at noon and 7:00), which would have been a very tough ask even if I'd been feeling great last night - which I wasn't. Jose cancelled that assignment after we'd talked so I could go home and have some rest...but of course, at 5:33 a.m. I woke up to realize my hotel room was shaking, the result of a 6.0 magnitude earthquake out to sea to the east of Tokyo. I never felt scared or anything, even though it was my first earthquake experience - I'm fully aware that Tokyo is probably the safest place in the world in which to experience an earthquake like that - but I also didn't get back to sleep either.