Diary of a commentator

So...yesterday was a really tough day for me. We had two games to call, and Hans and I divided responsibilities as predicted, with me calling innings 1-3 and 7-9 in the first game (USA vs. DOM) and him doing likewise in the second, higher profile game (JPN vs. KOR). The first game was fine: Tristan Casas hit his third HR of the competition, and I gave a subtle nod to the SoSH community at the end of this clip:

View: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1vicjhF0ZttN6dqTui3GRu3tmn3LSCIDt/view?usp=sharing

My partner was OK in his stint, and then I came back on for a pretty mundane ending to the game, albeit with a nice strikeout by Robertson to finish it with the tying run at the plate:

View: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1YjQPg0NosRcP8Ffyd_5Bnf_yz7Fou5Rd/view?usp=sharing

But then we got to the big game of the day, Korea vs. Japan...and let's just say that I'm finding it very hard to differentiate between stuff that I would do differently and stuff that I think should be done differently, period. I think a lot of the stuff I'm thinking about fits the former category, but with regard to the latter, in particular I don't think we did a good job of introducing the hitters during the first time around the order. My partner wasn't giving batting stats for the tournament so far *or* back stories and personal tidbits, and instead it felt like we were leaving loads of silence instead of guiding the viewer into the game. I didn't think it was my place to jump in and do all of this - that would have seemed, I dunno, egocentric? - but by the time we got to the 4th inning I felt as though I felt like I had some repair work to do in that regard.

I bit my tongue last night and decided to sleep on everything and hope I'd feel better in the morning, and my partner did message me this morning to suggest that I call innings 1-3 and 7-9 of the gold medal game (with him doing likewise for the bronze medal game), which is definitely a relief. It's funny, I was chatting this morning with Paul Bray - the voice of handball here in Europe for decades - while waiting for the bus to the IBC, and he is absolutely dreading the handball semifinals and finals precisely because he's used to working alone, and because when he first worked with co-commentators in Rio back in 2016, it was a disaster way beyond anything I've experienced. It was so bad, he said, that he vowed not to work for OBS here at Tokyo 2020, and it took some begging to get him to reconsider. So...maybe it's not just me?

(I should note that of the other OBS commentators I've heard, many really are excellent at what they do, but the quality isn't uniformly superlative. That said, I really haven't seen and heard that much sport at this Olympics, so my opinions in this regard are not as informed as they normally might be.)

Anyway, I'm working with Leah again one last time today on the second semifinal, USA vs. Korea - with me doing play-by-play and her doing color throughout. So that should be OK, I hope.
 

caminante11

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Nov 17, 2006
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I saw the beginning of the USA - Korea game but then I needed to go run. I saw the end when I got back but I need to see the innings I missed. So found a stream and am now listening to Mr. Conigliaro and Leah (from inning 6)
 

Fred not Lynn

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Jul 13, 2005
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I saw the beginning of the USA - Korea game but then I needed to go run. I saw the end when I got back but I need to see the innings I missed. So found a stream and am now listening to Mr. Conigliaro and Leah (from inning 6)
I managed to watch the last few innings in Canada, where the baseball is streamed directly from OBS and enjoyed the commentary.

I was amused by two things;

1. When the lead off Korean in T8 drew a walk, you McCarveresquely explained that “A walk is as good as a home run”, except using different (better) words and explaining it in a way that made sense - but it amused me to hear a guy from SoSH say it, given the crucifixion ol’ Tim took here for it in 2004.

2. When Anthony Carter plucked the game ending comebacker out of his glove, my quiet exclamation was, “Look what I found!”, which pretty much echoed out of my TV 2 seconds later…

I was touched by the post-game dugout shots of Eddy Alvarez emotionally overwhelmed by what he’s accomplished. Sure, to have played even one defensive half-inning in the Major Leagues is bigger deal than anything in speed skating or Olympic baseball, but there’s something especially impressive to have Olympic medals in two different sports in two different types of Games.
 

caminante11

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I think he’ll be the sixth person to have both a summer and winter medal. So it is a very select group.

Have to say I liked the OBS broadcast better than the NBC one.
 
So, the USA thumped Korea 7-2 to reach the gold medal game. On the one hand, I wanted Japan vs. Korea, The Rematch. On the other hand, USA vs. Japan is a great matchup and a great story that pretty much writes itself - it's not USSR vs. USA hockey in 1980, of course, but maybe it has some of the same undertones? The ragtag bunch of Yanks against the professional might of Japanese's top league? Obviously, our OBS commentary won't be used in the States, but I'm sure it'll be used elsewhere.

As for our own broadcast...
Have to say I liked the OBS broadcast better than the NBC one.
Thank you! I felt pretty comfortable in the booth with Leah last night, although my rhythm wasn't quite perfect in the first few innings, and there were two oddities early in the broadcast. First, we had this crazy play:

View: https://drive.google.com/file/d/16t__yJGIgwXrBiyXLSjkytViOoulVe28/view?usp=sharing

In the moment, I felt really weird about my call here - like I'd lost control of my voice and the situation altogether - but after rewatching it, a) I think I remained rather more in control of myself than I'd thought, and b) it is such a crazy, videogame sort of play that maybe a bit of high-pitched screeching doesn't sound out of place?

Then, Leah and I had one of those unfortunate moments when she was speaking at the start of a pitch...

View: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1gfzQDbnutnha8Izrnej5hg5h994jcLZt/view?usp=sharing

...and really, there was no clean route out of this one for me, although I think I did pretty well under the circumstances. (She probably could have stopped speaking a touch sooner, and I think should have stopped speaking once I started my call, but it's not a big deal, and this sort of thing happens all the time.)

Anyway, just because I've clipped the videos, here's the Korean run to cut it to 2-1:

View: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1GAFfWmaWvQ3vBNb89RW-wpvJS8DK55Ju/view?usp=sharing

And a couple of nice-ish defensive plays, one by each team:

View: https://drive.google.com/file/d/14IGJZFvhL7yzgLU7N5n7UtntA9loIPFb/view?usp=sharing

View: https://drive.google.com/file/d/16NAsI1X1V4VJkMqhtNfEJ_faQ8dOAPFS/view?usp=sharing


And then the USA onslaught in the 6th inning:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1EAvKFVUamgYvAN7CqeBnaQTcv4Gw68SW/view?usp=sharing
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1EGnhhpXxEOOWeiqjciMsbBnR_19HYqiI/view?usp=sharing
https://drive.google.com/file/d/12Tm023AJeNZDSFH7R-39BbAa98XBeJ3P/view?usp=sharing
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1xTt2Auv0T-9tXaV1yJ4Kz4-TCtcWjd6C/view?usp=sharing

And finally the liner back to the pitcher that ended the game:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1APSa978RsE60sR16NovCukcEeVe8XoI7/view?usp=sharing

Probably no work for me today - I'm on a 10-hour standby shift (from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.), but almost nobody has been called in on standby across the whole Olympics, so I've got plenty of time to clip and post videos like these.
 
Incidentally, the weather foecast for tomorrow in Yokohama looks pretty bleak - currently a 60% chance of rain in the afternoon for the bronze medal game, and an 80% chance of rain in the evening for the gold medal game. So that'll be fun. (And my flight out of Narita leaves at 10:20 a.m. on Sunday morning, so...)
 

StupendousMan

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Jul 20, 2005
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In one of the clips you showed above, Leah was talking as the pitcher started his motion, and so she continued describing the play as the batter hit the ball over the fence. You write about this as if it were a problem.

Is it simply a matter of keeping jobs straight? It seems to me, as a random viewer, that if both commentators know the sport, and have some experience, then each one _ought_ to be able to handle either the play-by-play or the color. In that case, even if there's an agreement that person A does play-by-play this inning, is it really such a big deal if -- by accident -- B calls the action for one play? Perhaps the problem is figuring out how to recover and return to the regular roles.

Has any pair ever tried an approach other than "I do all play-by-play this inning, and you do the color only this inning?" Have any people tried switching jobs after each batter?
 
Has any pair ever tried an approach other than "I do all play-by-play this inning, and you do the color only this inning?" Have any people tried switching jobs after each batter?
I'm not familiar with every single major and minor league broadcast since Marconi invented the radio, so... ;) (I've certainly not heard of this sort of thing myself.)

But to answer your main question - yes, it is a matter of keeping roles straight. And it's usually a question of one person in a pairing being significantly better a play-by-play and the other being significantly better at color, although baseball is the one sport where I've heard the two roles swap around during games fairly often. (You can't imagine Troy Aikman suddenly calling an NFL play or Stan Van Gundy calling an NBA play while Joe Buck or Mike Breen revert to analysis, can you?) I mean, maybe Leah and I could have started our broadcast with an arrangement along the lines of, "If you're in the middle of an anecdote when a play happens, just continue calling the play." But a) we didn't, and b) that's the sort of arrangement that I don't really think could be pulled off well unless both parties have worked together at length and developed a rapport to weave easily in and out of each other's orbits in real time. As it happens, I think the call in question from USA vs. Korea sounds pretty good under the circumstances, right down to Leah chuckling at Westbrook flashing "2" with his fingers during my summation of the play and me finishing with the otherwise unusual-sounding "And it's two...nothing, as Westbrook himself indicates" call.
 

Harry Hooper

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...and really, there was no clean route out of this one for me, although I think I did pretty well under the circumstances. (She probably could have stopped speaking a touch sooner, and I think should have stopped speaking once I started my call, but it's not a big deal, and this sort of thing happens all the time.)
Just FYI, this cross-talk calling this HR was pretty much a total non-issue to me as a listener.
 
Just FYI, this cross-talk calling this HR was pretty much a total non-issue to me as a listener.
Thanks for this - that's a good reminder, actually, that as much as I want the calls to be clean and separate, they don't have to fit into my tidy little boxes to work.

Great fun in that bronze medal game which just concluded, by the way. I'll maybe talk about it and the gold medal game separately after I get back from Tokyo, or at an airport somewhere along the way home...
 
View: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1lmRs1pbzWX8rTRtLJihoHg4vLiGCUTeW/view?usp=sharing

That's the full set of extended highlights of the baseball gold medal game, as shown on BBC One on Saturday. More later...still trying to plow through all sorts of admin now that I'm finally home from Japan! (I slept for a good 9 or 10 hours last night - bliss. And had an alarmingly expensive breakfast of Wagyu Beef at Narita Airport as a final going-away treat!)
 
So, I'm back home and have been up to my eyeballs in work the past few days - post-Tokyo admin, preparing for the new CHL season, researching the Berlin Thunder vs. Hamburg Sea Devils ELF game tomorrow, some PowerPoint design work I do on the side to help pay the bills between commentary gigs, and also contacting people about Beijing 2022 and a few other opportunities that may come my way down the line. Not to mention domestic duties like chauffeuring my kids around and cooking meals for the family, etc. (And I WhatsApped a bunch of commentators who I enjoyed being around just to say hi and thank them for their company.) I'd wanted to take at least one full day off after returning home, but alas, it's 100 miles per hour for me until at least the middle of September: at least 2 ELF games, 4 days of WTA tennis from Cincinnati - 9 matches in total - and 12 CHL games in the next 30 days. That's quite a lot by my standards, and indeed probably most commentators' standards, and coming immediately after my trip to Tokyo, I am in real danger of possible burnout. But I'd rather have the work than not, you know?

Just thinking back to my trip to Tokyo, it really was an amazing experience for all sorts of reasons both personally and professionally. I'm not happy with every call I made, of course, and in particular there are a few moments from the gold medal game I'm not sure about. Both of my calls of the two Japanese runs that scored were fine, but not particularly dramatic or eloquent; the HR ball that opened the scoring kinda caught me off-guard, and the Jack Lopez error which led to the second run was just a weird play that was tough to fully track (although I do like my pivot of "The runner will not attempt to score...or will he?"). My call of the final out as well: I seem to have inadvertently used staccato calls on both the softball and baseball gold medal conclusions, with pauses which don't sound entirely natural - i.e., "And Japan...has won...their precious...baseball gold medal!" I kinda like it, and I really like how the word "precious" just came to me, as it works both as a pun of sorts on "precious metals/medals" and as a Lord of the Rings allusion in addition to the basic reference that this was the gold medal the Japanese probably wanted the most. But I don't think it's the phrase or delivery I'd come up with on a blank sheet of paper if I had ample time to brainstorm a perfect response to the moment. (FWIW, there's also a grammatical inconsistency in that call - "has won" should be followed with "its", or "their" should have been preceded by "have won" - although that's down to the perpetual sports-related confusion of whether a team like "Japan" is considered to be a singular or plural entity, so I'm not beating myself up too much about that.)

Those specific key moments of the game aside, I thought Hans and I sounded like a partnership that had been working for months or even years rather than days - a lot of really smart back and forth between us. I kept pivoting back to the big picture of the game - e.g., talking about the absence of fans ("they could have sold tickets for this game 10 times over") but also how their absence throughout the tournament has shined a focus on the chatter coming out of the players in their dugouts. I'm very pleased with my explanation for newbie baseball watchers of the force out at home with the bases loaded - and that the BBC used it as they did in their highlights package. On the whole, I think I was as good an analyst as I am at play-by-play, although my tendency was to probably speak a bit more as a color guy than most analysts would, and in my ideal commentary booth it should always be the play-by-play man who feels like he's in charge. And on the basis of my work in Tokyo, I have contacted the World Baseball Softball Confederation to see if they might point me in the right direction about commentating on other international baseball/softball games in addition to the Olympics and Asian Games work I've done so far. (That seems a more likely route into more baseball/softball commentary work than trying to latch on with a major or minor league team in the States.)

But on the whole, the predominant feeling I have about my commentary work continues to be one of wonder. Not only that I get to do this in the first place, and not only that I get paid to do it, but that I hear myself after the fact and think I'm pretty damn good at this - even that I don't compare too unfavorably to some of the truly great commentators I've been privileged to listen to over the past 40+ years as a sports fan. I mean, just to pick out one call, from the Johan Mieses game-tying HR for the Dominican Republic against Israel in the bottom of the 9th in their elimination game:

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

From the crack of the bat to "...A moonshot! For Johan Mieses!", I wouldn't change a single thing about my call. And then after my long pause for effect, when I say "We said Zack Weiss, prone to giving up the long ball - and this was the longest of long balls!", I detect a real whiff of Vin Scully in how I say and emphasize "the longest of long balls". That sort of commentary rhythm is something I've internalized over decades of sports watching, and now I'm discovering in the moment that I'm able to take those rhythms and make them my own. And if you want to say I have a massive ego for even daring to compare myself to Vin Scully, all I can say is a) fair enough, but b) really, this is far less about ego than it is a childlike fascination with what I'm doing with my life right now. When I listen to my own voice on a recording that I think I've really nailed - and the proportion of calls that I think I really nail continues to increase - the first sensation that usually comes to me is a combination of sheer delight and shock: I sound as good as that? Any validation I might receive in the form of other people's compliments is always nice...but ultimately, doing the sort of job that can satisfy myself in this way is more than enough. And while there are many reasons - both fair and unfair - that I probably won't ever wind up working for a MLB or NBA or NHL team or for CBS or ABC or NBC or FOX or ESPN, I now truly do believe that I could fit right in on any high-level sports broadcast in America: Super Bowl, World Series, NBA or Stanley Cup Finals, you name it. And that realization, no matter how self-delusional it may be at least in part, feels absolutely amazing.

(Apologies for the navel-gazing post, by the way. I mean, I know most of my posts in this thread are navel-gazing to a greater or lesser degree. But I realize how lucky I am to be in this position, and that the vast majority of people who work for a living have far less job satisfaction than I do. My sense of wonder and delight in what I'm able to do comes from this understanding...and the work ethic I try to bring to both my research and my quest for commentary self-improvement is entirely down to the fact that I never, ever want to take any of this for granted.)
 

caminante11

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Nov 17, 2006
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Brooklyn, NY
From what I have heard you are as good a commentator as most in the States. So no issue with navel gazing. See if you can take Rick Sutcliffes job before the next Red Sox playoff game.
 
See if you can take Rick Sutcliffes job before the next Red Sox playoff game.
Heh...I wish! (But thanks.)

So, from the high of the Olympics, today I was somewhat back down to earth calling the Berlin Thunder vs. the Hamburg Sea Devils in the European League of Football. What a change in production quality: the number of times a kick or pass was delivered down the field and the camera stopped following the flight of the ball and I was left to guess the result must have been well into double figures! Also, the Berlin uniforms sort of share the 49ers' red-and-gold color scheme, but the jersey numbers are also gold and have no outlines, so I really couldn't tell who was who on their team without a full-on close up. And let's just say the timings listed in my running order only bore a loose connection to the pictures I was seeing on my screen - e.g., the end of my first segment in the game's introduction was supposed to end with a shot of the referees, but that didn't happen, and so I had to pause literally mid-sentence for the first ad break of the broadcast.

As for the game, my ELF curse of not having any close games to call seemed to be continuing: the Sea Devils (6-1) led the Thunder (1-5) 21-0 at the half and then scored on their first possession of the third quarter to make it 28-0. But then the Berlin scored what seemed to be a consolation TD late in the 3rd quarter; on the very next Hamburg play, a high shotgun snap led to a fumble; and the play after that was a 25-yard Berlin TD to make it 28-14, and the atmosphere in the stadium completely changed. Berlin scored again with 11 minutes left in the game, failing to convert the PAT to make it 28-20, and after another Hamburg fumble had 1st and 10 at the Berlin 15. But they failed to convert 4th and 2 from the 7, and after an exchange of punts Hamburg managed to convert 3rd and 8 just before the 2-minute warning and was able to kneel down three times to seal the win. I never really felt like Berlin would win, but even to get a finish that close felt like a real blessing. (I look forward to checking out some of the highlights and hearing how my voice sounded as Berlin's comeback continued; my direct orders from ELF Comissioner Patrick Esume are to sound excitable in dramatic moments, but sometimes I feel like I can start a little bit too quick and have nowhere left to accelerate without getting at least a little bit out of control.)
 
And here are the highlights. My verdict:

1) The contrast between my low-volume and high-volume voices is too large.
2) My high-intensity voice is too high pitched. (Let's cancel that Super Bowl gig of mine for the moment, OK?)
3) Both of the above issues pale in comparison to the production issues I mentioned above. Just look at the very first play in the highlights for a perfect example of what I'm talking about, although really, this whole video is filled with inappropriate zoom cuts and bad camera work.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ri6qYHq-kg
 
It's 1:03 a.m. in Leeds as I start typing this post...and I'm nowhere near going to bed. Already today I've called straight-sets wins for Barbora Krejcikova over Daria Kasatkina and for Petra Kvitova over Madison Keys, but because one of the commentators originally scheduled to be on duty this week caught COVID and can't be here (he's OK, thankfully), I've now got a third match tonight - Shelby Rogers vs. Danielle Collins - which may not start for a few hours, in part because of two rain delays totalling more than three hours between them. I've also been signed up for a fifth day of WTA Cincinnati commentary this week as well; this tournament may be the one that finally kills me.

That said, it's been great fun working and chatting with Candy Reid - I'm now calling all of my matches this week either with her (today) or with Mel South (tomorrow onward), which is great insofar as it's that much easier and that much more fun working with a partner on tennis. I just wish my sleep schedule wasn't about to be so screwed up.
 
I didn't finish until after 4 a.m. yesterday / this morning, and only finished that soon because Danielle Collins injured herself early in the second set and had to retire vs. Rogers. Got about three hours of sleep, went back to bed, slept another three hours, and now I'm back on the tennis treadmill again today. My first match is not before 8 p.m. my time...and it's the first time I've ever commentated on a current world #1 in men's or women's singles, with Ash Barty facing Heather Watson. So that's cool! Then much later I have Sloane Stephens vs. Caroline Garcia, which is less exciting but also more likely to be a competitive match.
 
No, I didn't get to call Barty vs. Watson yesterday. Instead, we got Ons Jabeur vs. Anett Kontaveit at relatively short notice - meaning I had to prep for a third match on top of the other two I'd already researched - and then Stephens vs. Garcia didn't end until 2:10 a.m. in Cincinnati, which is to say 7:10 a.m. for us. It was horrible; I enjoyed working with Mel South, who is more of a traditional analyst relative to Candy (who has done lead and analyst roles and often tries to fill all of the silences when I'm not speaking), but I'll enjoy it more if we can have a more normal flow of the day's play. At least her mother, who stayed up all night watching and listening to us (!), apparently says I "sound nice". But honestly, that was soooo tiring...I even blanked at one point on air during Stephens vs. Garcia about who had played in the first match we'd called!

If the order of play today stays as assigned - no guarantees in that regard! - we've got Aryna Sabalenka vs. Paula Badosa starting around 8:30-ish p.m. my time, and then not before 1:30 a.m. it'll be Karolina Pliskova vs. Yulia Putintseva.
 
Yesterday's Sabalenka vs. Badosa match was probably my favorite tennis match I've ever commentated on. First of all, it was a great match: Sabalenka just blasted the ball in the first set and took it 7-5, but Badosa somehow hung with her into the second and managed to win six games in a row to lead early in the third set. Sabalenka fired back with three games in a row to go up 3-1, but Badosa managed to break back, both players held serve into a final-set tiebreak, and the only point won against serve in the breaker was taken by Badosa. A big upset (on paper, at least), and a really high quality match.

But second of all, it was also great because I'm pretty sure Mel South (short for "Melanie") is the best analyst I've ever worked with, across any sport. She maxed out at #99 in the world in her playing career back in 2009 and retired a while ago, moving mostly into coaching with a bit of commentary on the side. But she has a great and varied tennis vocabulary, clearly knows the sport inside and out, has a good feel for when to speak and when to take a step back, and is really laid back and willing to go with the flow of whatever I want to talk about. (She said that she's had enough training speaking to the media as a player that if I ask her a question she's not prepared or willing to answer, she'll just deflect it and move onto a different topic.) I've also just really enjoyed talking to her - in the long break between Badosa-Sabalenka and the much more pedestrian and thankfully faster Pliskova-Putintseva match, we must have chatted for a good three hours or so, so much so that it was borderline unprofessional insofar as her voice became really sore and a bit scratchy. She's got a distinctively deep and somewhat husky voice anyway - which works for me generally, both in commentary and otherwise - so it didn't really impact her performance, but she did go a bit more silent at times during the Pliskova match, and I had to change up my own commentary rhythm somewhat.

Anyway, I'll try not to go overboard chatting with Mel this evening; one thing which may help is our discovery yesterday that the top floor of the DAZN office in which we're commentating has a pool table! (I thrashed Candy in our one match before she had to start commentating, not that any of these competitive ex-tennis players in the building are keeping score...) Our scheduled matches are Badosa vs. Elena Rybakina and then recent Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic against Karolina Muchova; having originally been set to call Center Court matches today and previously on Tuesday that got shifted to outside courts because the published order of play bore almost no relation to the schedule we'd been expecting, I'm looking forward to tomorrow, when there are just the four quarterfinals and Mel and I should definitely get one on Center and one on Grandstand. I'm dreaming of a possible Barty vs. Krejicova/Muguruza matchup, although I'd take Osaka vs. Bencic or Pliskova vs. Rybakina/Badosa...
 
I've commentated on three more tennis matches since I last posted, and two of them have finished in injury retirements: Karolina Muchova reaggravated an abdominal strain vs. Belinda Bencic, and then earlier today Petra Kvitova was forced to retire with what was officially ruled a gastro-intestinal disorder (I nearly, nearly said that it was "a crappy way to end a match" but managed to restrain myself). Four injury retirements in the women's half of the tournament, and I've been commentating on three of them - I did muse at the end that I hope it's not my fault.

Actually, commentating on a developing injury situation is quite interesting - and Mel has proven to have a sixth sense about these things, spotting early glances from Muchova and Kvitova to their respective coaches' boxes and pointing them out straightaway. I don't know if I would ever root for an injury, but if there is another one in my match that's just about to start - Pliskova vs. Badosa (after Badosa beat Rybakina in straight sets yesterday in my first commentary match) - that would certainly help me get back on the road to Scotland quickly! As it is, looks like it's going to be another very, very late night after Tsitsipas vs. Auger-Aliassime went to three sets right before us.
 
I don't know if I would ever root for an injury, but if there is another one in my match that's just about to start - Pliskova vs. Badosa (after Badosa beat Rybakina in straight sets yesterday in my first commentary match) - that would certainly help me get back on the road to Scotland quickly!
Me and my dirty mouth - Badosa did in fact retire with an injury early in the second set, after a very long and rather crazy first set. After a batch of pretty bad errors around the 5-4 mark in the first set (with Pliskova having rallied from 4-0 down to lead 5-4), Mel commented on how fascinating the match was, and I responded by saying that it was in the same way that looking at a car accident at the side of the road can be fascinating. And shortly thereafter a massive stick insect appeared behind the baseline, and a ball boy came out and tried to sweep it away with his foot, leading me to quietly muse "Do we have to watch this?" as the crowd ooohed and aaahed and groaned (which I said was in keeping with the spirit of the match at that point). I could kinda tell that Mel was about to lose it, and in the next changeover she just burst out, "You're so funny!" I really think we were both so tired at that point, particularly having been together for six hours in between our two matches with little but each other to distract us (in part thanks to Claire Curran shamefully ducking a pool rematch with me by slinking back to her hotel with Oscar Chamberlain between their matches), that our inner filters had weakened to the point that we were saying stuff that normally we'd have kept in our brains. But we did keep it together, and at the end of my drive back to Scotland - made it home just before 7 a.m. - I listened to about an hour of our broadcast on replay, and we sounded rather better than I'd feared we'd sounded at the time.

So that ends my favorite week of tennis commentary by far I've ever experienced. But I have little time to rest on my laurels: I've just finished prepping for my ELF match tomorrow (Barcelona Dragons at Berlin Thunder). And earlier, I finished assigning all of the commentators for the games in the first two-thirds of Group Stage of the Champions Hockey League. I didn't mention that in the middle of my prep for the tennis yesterday, I was involved in an hour-long Google Meet call with most of the other CHL commentators for the upcoming season, a call in which my name actually appeared on an org chart on a slide showing the team producing the broadcasts. I spent a lot of time speaking in the call myself, coaching our team of Americans and Canadians about what to expect from European hockey and solo hockey commentary, etc. It's really fascinating to be on both sides of the curtain for this one; it means extra work for me, but it also means getting paid a bit more than the producers originally wanted to pay me. And I'm sure at some point I'll feel terrible about having to choose which of two equally good- or bad-sounding commentators deserves to get extra work during the Knockout Stage. Hopefully I won't feel terrible about picking myself to get games every day that I can get them as well...although if anything, I expect any fears of that happening will spur me on to make sure I keep getting better, and therefore that I legitimately will feel that I'm the best commentator of the lot the whole way through.
 
Honestly, I can't believe how busy I am right now. Yesterday was my first CHL game of the new season, in which Frölunda Gothenburg opened its latest title defense with a 4-1 win at Mlada Boleslav; the second goal was scored by 39-year-old Joel Lundqvist, with his brother Henrik having retired just last week. That was just like old times, although my voice took a while to warm up (I felt like my lips were stuck in molasses at times), and it's definitely weird commentating from home on the CHL instead of from Vienna. The picture quality was...OK? Not ideal, but good enough for the most part.

On top of commentating, and preparing to commentate on all six of my teams this week (plus four next week, as I'm now calling two games in one day owing to a commentator shortage), and voicing over the postgame highlights after Frölunda's win yesterday, and helping two companies with PowerPoint design work amidst everything else, I tried to listen to all of the other commentators for at least five minutes and take notes. We have a couple of quite decent ones, and one or two mediocre ones, but also one rather bad one who is likely to get sacked later today. His demo tape sounded fine enough, but he was really struggling both with player identification yesterday - I'm not sure I heard him say a player's name once, actually - and apparently it took him more than two hours to produce his highlights voiceover. (In comparison, I took 18 minutes to do mine.) I tried to say we should give him at least one more chance, but my bosses seem pretty insistent about showing him the door. A backup has been identified and is waiting in the wings, though; he's called a few Carolina Hurricanes games and is now working for an AHL team, and his demo reel is probably the best of all the ones I've heard. Whether in-arena NHL commentary translates to off-tube CHL commentary remains to be seen, of course!
 

atisha

lurker
Jul 18, 2007
67
Romania
Watched some minutes of the Mlada - Frolunda game.

Player identification is like the most basic thing in sports commentary, so...On the other hand, who knows how confusing the team gear must have been, European hockey teams tend to cover most of their shirts with various adverts.
 
Player identification is like the most basic thing in sports commentary, so...On the other hand, who knows how confusing the team gear must have been, European hockey teams tend to cover most of their shirts with various adverts.
Actually, all of the teams have special CHL jerseys which are much cleaner than their normal uniforms - there is some advertising, but not nearly as much as they normally wear. So that really shouldn't have been the issue. (I did wonder if his issues were in some way related to a high camera angle at the Hallenstadion in Zurich that made it tougher than normal to read the jersey numbers, but I called a game from the same arena yesterday, and it wasn't an issue at all.)

Anyway, in the past two days I've called a 2-1 win for Växjö Lakers over Sparta Prague that wasn't as close as that sounds (Sparta's goal came with 6.4 seconds left in the third period), and then a 4-2 win for ZSC Zurich over Frölunda which was filled with incident and a bit of controversy, as well as my first few F-bombs from mic-ed up coaches to deal with. Frölunda scored a 5-on-4 power play goal in the first period which effectively was a 5-on-3 situation after a borderline boarding call left one of ZSC's players strugging to get up from the ice in the corner of their zone. Then in the third period, after ZSC killed off a real 5-on-3 Frölunda power play and scored an equalizer to make it 2-2, one of the Frölunda players (Jan Muršak, who scored the tying and then OT winning goals for Slovenia against the USA in PyeongChang three years ago) speared a ZSC player right in the stomach and got 5+20 minutes in penalties, leading directly to Marcus Krüger's power-play game-winner. All just a little bit strange, but easily the most fun I've had commentating on a game so far this week.

One thing that really helped me yesterday was plugging a pair of basic earphones into the Behringer U-Phoria UM2 mixer that I use when commentating for Spalk off of my laptop at home. For my ELF games and now my CHL games at home, I've been using a lip mic and just listening to the stadium audio off of my TV, which works because the lip mic has such a short range that it won't pick up the TV audio or really any other audio in the house. But I've belatedly realized that this setup has a crucial flaw: I've become so accustomed to hearing my voice in my ears during commentary that when that voice isn't there, I've been trying to talk louder to compensate. That leads both to a lack of vocal control in commentary and to my voice becoming tired much more quickly than normal, to the point that I was worried going into yesterday that my voice was going to hold up across all four of my games this weekend. But this little fix was like a security blanket for me, and my voice had plenty of endurance yesterday even as I felt much more in control of myself.

One new issue popped up yesterday in my commentary, though: in the Windows Control Panel, I set the audio level for my USB Audio Codec (i.e., my mic) to 75 at the start of the game and then repeatedly thereafter, but for some reason the computer kept lowering it into the 50s and 60s. The Spalk engineer had to keep adjusting the level even as I kept putting it back (during the game!) myself to around 75; I don't have Automatic Gain Control enabled on my PC, which is the obvious reason this might be happening, so we really can't figure out what's going on. A Google Search suggests that maybe plugging my mixer into a USB 2.0 port instead of a USB 3.0 port might help, so that's what I'll try today, but if anyone else has any thoughts, I'd love to hear them!
 
I seem to see a lot of NHL-sized rinks in the European arenas, is it just my perception?
Eh, I think most (possibly all?) of them are bigger than NHL size.

My game today saw Växjö outshoot Fischtown 22-2 in the first period! It was 3-0 after 20 minutes and finished 5-0, with Richard Gynge (pronounced more like "Goonga", kinda like Gungha-Din) scoring a hat trick. For some reason I still don't *really* like the sound of my hockey voice at the moment...not sure I can quite place why. But hey-ho, I made it to the end of Week 1, and have plenty of time to improve in the weeks to come.
 
Just getting ready to start my CHL doubleheader - Ocelari Trinec (CZE) vs. Fribourg-Gotteron (SUI), and then EV Zug (SUI) vs. Rogle (SWE) - but time to note that I've just been picked to call the first ever ELF Championship Game, on the 19th of September. Definitely a surprise to me, not because I'm not good enough but because I figured they'd go with someone who has commentated on a game every week this season, rather that someone who has missed time on Olympics and then CHL duty. So that's exciting!
 
Yesterday went surprisingly well. It latterly occurred to me that my workload yesterday was the same as someone calling a 3OT game in the NHL playoffs, and therefore certainly well within what ought to be my capabilities. I had to switch rosters at the halfway point, of course, so that is more mentally draining than having the same players to cover throughout; FWIW, I'm past the point at which I try too hard to memorize the players' jersey numbers before games, insofar as my system of sticking the rosters to the bottom of my monitor/TV and glancing quickly downwards during the play works well enough that I'm better staying mentally fresher and not spending an hour or more on memorization. If I were more into memorizing player numbers, a day like yesterday could have felt much worse!

I was very pleased with how I sounded during my first game - the best I think I've sounded calling hockey so far this year by some distance - and the game itself was certainly entertaining enough: Ocelari Trinec took a 3-0 lead over Fribourg-Gotteron after one period, but Fribourg rallied to 4-3. It was 3-3 after 40 minutes, then Fribourg scored early in the third to take the lead before committing a series of penalties that seemed determined to let Trinec back into the game. But for once, I was particularly thankful that the game didn't go to overtime, as that gave me a full half-hour between games to eat some food and rest my voice. The second game was more of a slog; after an entertaining first period in which Zug and Rögle both scored once, the game got a little turgid, and I think my voice became a bit less controlled as I got tired. It stayed 1-1 through the end of regulation, but Rögle scored only 55 seconds into OT to win it; always nice to call an overtime goal, although I think my call could have been better (and less high-pitched).

The weirdest part of the process, though, came at the end of the evening when I was voicing over the highlights of my two games: an editing error added a continuity gaffe, with a "replay" showing a completely different shot on goal to the play that preceded it. If this had happened in a previous season, and I'd been in Vienna alongside the editors, I would have flagged this up and waited for them to fix the mistake before continuing my voiceover, but that wasn't an option here. I chose to narrate those two incidents separately, ignoring the camera angle chosen for the second of them, and let my bosses know about the mistake in doing so...but after checking out the published highlight, what we now have is a re-edited video which removed the second play completely, and I'm now describing a play that isn't in the video at all. Maybe I should have kept my mouth shut.
 
What a pair of games I've called in the last 24 hours. I mean, yesterday was just a run-of-the-mill overtime win for Sparta Prague over Växjö Lakers, finishing 2-1 after no goals were scored in the third period. (It was a better 2-1 OT game than the one I'd called the night before, though.) But today...wow. ZSC Zurich led Frölunda 1-0 after one; Frölunda rallied to take a 2-1 lead after two, but also had a goal disallowed and another seeming goal robbed by a sprawling Ludovic Waeber save, and ended the period having just committed a 5-minute major kneeing penalty. Frölunda killed off that penalty and then took a 3-1 lead through Matthias Norlinder, but ZSC rallied through Joel Quenneville's and Patrick Geering's goals to make it 3-3 with 4:45 to go. Right at the final buzzer, Frölunda seem to have won the game through Max Friberg, but he directed it toward the net off his skate and I think it may have come just after the buzzer anyway, so a second Frölunda goal was disallowed in the game and we went to overtime - my third OT game in as many days. Two minutes into OT, the Norwegian Mats Rosseli-Olsen scored his second of the game for Frölunda, and that was that: 4-3 for Frölunda, who goes to the top of the group but has two tough games to come against IFK Helsinki, while ZSC is one point back (with the head-to-head tiebreaker advantage over Frölunda) and has two easier games to come against Mlada Boleslav. Couldn't be set up any nicer; I think I may need to assign myself some more Frölunda games next month!

Everything seems to be working great now on the commentary side of things, apart from my mic level continuing to fluctuate seemingly randomly. Well, maybe not entirely randomly - the level, in the Control Panel on my Windows 10 laptop, seems to dip more after I've gotten loud on goal calls and the like. Either way, I'm aware of the issue and am spending too much time scrambling into the Control Panel to readjust the levels when I should be focusing on commentating. But that aside, I'm much happier with the sound of my hockey voice now relative to where it was a week or so ago.
 

The Needler

lurker
Dec 7, 2016
1,801
@Conigliaro's Potential, I thought of you immediately today while listening to the Vikings-Cardinals game as I was driving from Duluth to Minneapolis. Paul Allen, the uber-homer Vikings broadcaster calling the would-be game-winning field goal score screamed at full volume “It’s GOOOOOOOOOOOOD!!” But it wasn’t. And he had to follow it up with a “No wait, he missed it.” Couldn’t help thinking about the way you agonize over what we usually think of as very minor things in your big calls. Have to think you’d have stumbled in to the Firth of Forth never to re-emerge after this one.
 
@Conigliaro's Potential, I thought of you immediately today while listening to the Vikings-Cardinals game as I was driving from Duluth to Minneapolis. Paul Allen, the uber-homer Vikings broadcaster calling the would-be game-winning field goal score screamed at full volume “It’s GOOOOOOOOOOOOD!!” But it wasn’t. And he had to follow it up with a “No wait, he missed it.” Couldn’t help thinking about the way you agonize over what we usually think of as very minor things in your big calls. Have to think you’d have stumbled in to the Firth of Forth never to re-emerge after this one.
Ouch. That's pretty bad...I mean, I've had moments in hockey games where I started to yell "He scores!" only to realize that the puck had rippled the outside of the net instead of the back of the net, but I think that's much more understandable than not waiting an extra second to see the referee's arm signals to make sure a field goal is good or isn't good. Especially on radio, when the expectation is that nobody can see what is happening anyway and you do have time to make sure you get it right.

Incidentally, I had one of those hockey moments a week-and-a-half ago in one of the commentary games I had during my third week of CHL commentaries - I just quickly corrected myself, apologized and moved on. Anyway, I don't think I've ever gone anywhere near this long after a game without writing up a report in this thread, but yeah, I simply failed to talk about:
  • KAC Klagenfurt (AUT) 5, Rungsted Seier Capital (DEN) 1
  • Red Bull Salzburg (AUT) 1, Frisk Asker (NOR) 0
  • KAC Klagenfurt 4, Rouen Dragons (FRA) 0
  • Red Bull Salzburg 6, JKH GKS Jastrzębie (POL) 1
The last game was actually much better than the score might suggest - it was 1-1 six minutes into the third period before Red Bull finally remembered how to score - but really, none of them really got my pulse racing. But my fee for each of these games was the same as all of the other games I've called this season, so I'm not complaining.

I finally had a much needed break from commentary last week - the first time I've been able to say that probably in my career! Next up for me is the ELF Championship Game on Sunday - both of the higher seeds won their semifinal playoff games, so it'll be the Frankfurt Galaxy against the Hamburg Sea Devils at the Merkur Spiel Arena in Düsseldorf. The CHL resumes on October 5; meanwhile, I have a conference call with Spalk on Wednesday to discuss additional work I could possibly do for them. Apparently there's a new regional sports network starting up in Asia that will require English-language KBO baseball and KBL basketball commentary from Korea...
 
Today was the ELF Championship Game...and, well, wow:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xV8KWbbGC3M

I hadn't been feeling well over the past few days and was worried last night that I might not have any voice left today; I slept horribly last night, but I was able to speak today, and I think I sound fine on the tape. It was an unbelievable game, with four lead changes and all sorts of drama at the end of both halves; short story, Hamburg (the heavy underdogs) led 30-26 late in the game, but their very good Danish field kicker (Philip Friis Andersen) yanked a 31-yard FG narrowly left which would have given them a seven-point lead, and Frankfurt marched down the field and punched in a TD on a QB sneak with less than 30 secons left to take the lead (shortly after what appeared to be the go-ahead TD was overturned on video review). They didn't trust their kicker - they went 1-for-5 on two-point conversion attempts in the game - and failed again here, so that left the score at 32-30. The subsequent kickoff went out of bounds, and with no timeouts left Hamburg managed to pick up 15 yards and set up Andersen for a 62-yard game-winning attempt...which was on line but fell just a few feet short. Unreal - it probably would have been good from 60, and maybe 61, but not 62.

The most hilarious part of the broadcast? The picture went completely dead on me with 8 seconds left, just as Hamburg was preparing to kick the final field goal. Luckily, the Frankfurt coach apparently called a timeout to ice the kicker, and that gave the guys just enough time to restore the picture so I could call the final attempt. (Whew!) After the game, I compared Andersen's miss to Gary Anderson's miss in the 1999 NFC Championship Game for the Vikings against my Falcons, with the winning kick in that game delivered by Morten Andersen (it's Andersens/Andersons all the way down); I think it was a great comparison because Hamburg's Andersen had been *so* much better than any other ELF kicker all season, and he'd been 3-for-3 in the game to that point as well, with every kick almost perfectly splitting the uprights.

Anyway, that game was **so** much better than any other ELF game I'd called, and my preparation really couldn't have been any better; I may not have been feeling well, but that really was a delightful experience. Over the past few days, the ELF announced that three expansion franchises would be joining the league next year (the Rhein Fire in Dusseldorf, and Austrian teams in Vienna and Innsbruck), so things should be even bigger and better next year; hopefully I'll be able to play my part again, this time without any Olympics-related interruptions.
 

rbeaud

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
329
Orange, CT
…; hopefully I'll be able to play my part again, this time without any Olympics-related interruptions.
CP just dropping into your thread for another “atta boy”. It’s amazing that you take the time to share these adventures in announcing. It’s an interesting window into your profession and I look forward to these updates.
 
The Champions Hockey League resumed on Tuesday, and I had two pretty decent games over the past two nights. Yesterday it was IFK Helsinki vs. Frolunda Gothenburg, with only one of these two big clubs in Europe likely to go through to the Knockout Stage (as ZSC Zurich is a heavy favorite to qualify if it can beat Mlada Boleslav on home ice next week). I actually chatted with IFK assistant coach Cory Murphy on Monday morning - Murphy was a freshman at Colgate in 1997-98 when I called my last season of Harvard games on student radio (WHRB), and Harvard played Colgate in the ECAC quarterfinals that year, so I remembered Murphy quite well and thought it'd be fun to get in touch. We had a nice chat about his transition to Europe and some of the quirks of having a (North American) wife and kids while living abroad - e.g., both of his kids speak Swedish to each other at the dinner table, even though neither he nor his wife know the language very well; I can't quite believe that his coach at Colgate (Don Vaughan) is still in charge of the Red Raiders all of these years later, but that is in fact the case!

As for the game itself, it was a barnburner - probably the best I've called all season, with IFK twice taking the lead but Patrik Carlsson scoring a wonderful individual goal to tie it at 2-2 before adding a late winner (on a rebound off the goalpost). Carlsson's first goal in particular is worth watching, starting at 2:14 of the below highlight reel (which I of course voiced over):

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPOuNyHpfJc&list=PL5rAqIwdVbrz2FpYere8smPCeI6NEnAdm&index=13

Then tonight, Sparta Prague and the Fischtown Pinguins (of Bremerhaven, Germany) went wild in a first period that ended 2-2 but could have been about 5-3 - the defenses were, erm, porous to say the least. Made for really fun commentary, not least because one of Fischtown's goals - by the Dane Niklas Andersen - was a coast-to-coast solo goal which rivalled Carlsson's from last night. But to make a long story short, Sparta's class eventually told, and a late second-period go-ahead goal was followed by two more early in the third, and they coasted to a 5-2 win. And their fourth goal, which was really the dagger, happened while we'd lost the picture from the arena! Fischtown was on the power play looking to tie the game up, but as Sparta came forward on what looked like it could be a shorthanded breakaway, the signal went completely dead. I frantically refreshed the Spalk studio on my laptop, but it wasn't my fault - the game replay has a giant cut in it - and when the picture did come back, Sparta was celebrating a shorthanded goal. (It wasn't actually from the chance I saw begin; Sparta created a second shorthanded opportunity, and I just picked up the commentary as soon as I could, apologizing to everyone for the glitch and trying to cover for the fact that I didn't actually see the goal scored live.) I think that's the first time I've missed a really important moment of a game because of a technical glitch, but I was remarkably calm about it in the moment; I guess I'm getting a bit more experienced about all of these things. Anyway, here's tonight's highlight reel, if on the off chance you're interested:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKDSgwYuukM&list=PL5rAqIwdVbrz2FpYere8smPCeI6NEnAdm&index=3

Meanwhile, I've also picked everyone's commentary assignments for next week's final round of Group Stage games. Rank has it's privileges, and I've given myself two of the three games in which neither team is guaranteed to qualify but both teams control their own destiny: Frolunda Gothenburg vs. IFK Helsinki (again) on Tuesday, and then EV Zug vs. Red Bull Munich on Wednesday. I've called three of the four teams already this year, and Red Bull Munich was in the 2019 CHL Final that features so prominently on the ice hockey page of my commentary website, so hopefully my preparation shouldn't be too difficult. (I did very conscientiously try to give all of the commentators no more than one or two new teams to prepare for next week - I didn't just do that for me!)
 
HELL YEAH: I just got my formal invitation to go to Beijing for the Winter Olympics next February, with the two ice hockey arenas listed as the venues where I'll be working. (Not quite sure who sent me that email at 11:30 p.m. UK time on a Saturday - 12:30 a.m. in Madrid, where OBS is based - but I couldn't care less.) That is going to be so freaking awesome...I mean, I loved doing the baseball and softball this summer, but to get to be in the arenas and calling games featuring the best women's *and* men's players in the world is going to be UNREAL. So, so happy the NHL is sending its players across to China this time!
 

tmracht

Well-Known Member
Gold Supporter
SoSH Member
Aug 19, 2009
2,532
HELL YEAH: I just got my formal invitation to go to Beijing for the Winter Olympics next February, with the two ice hockey arenas listed as the venues where I'll be working. (Not quite sure who sent me that email at 11:30 p.m. UK time on a Saturday - 12:30 a.m. in Madrid, where OBS is based - but I couldn't care less.) That is going to be so freaking awesome...I mean, I loved doing the baseball and softball this summer, but to get to be in the arenas and calling games featuring the best women's *and* men's players in the world is going to be UNREAL. So, so happy the NHL is sending its players across to China this time!
Congratulations!!!
 

Pablo's TB Lover

Well-Known Member
Gold Supporter
SoSH Member
Sep 10, 2017
2,827
HELL YEAH: I just got my formal invitation to go to Beijing for the Winter Olympics next February, with the two ice hockey arenas listed as the venues where I'll be working. (Not quite sure who sent me that email at 11:30 p.m. UK time on a Saturday - 12:30 a.m. in Madrid, where OBS is based - but I couldn't care less.) That is going to be so freaking awesome...I mean, I loved doing the baseball and softball this summer, but to get to be in the arenas and calling games featuring the best women's *and* men's players in the world is going to be UNREAL. So, so happy the NHL is sending its players across to China this time!
That is great!
 
So, my first two CHL commentary games after I found out I'll be going to Beijing happened yesterday and today. Both were must-win games for both teams, but neither was particularly memorable: yesterday, Frölunda Gothenburg mostly dominated IFK Helsinki at home, and despite a small scare in the third period cruised to a 4-1 win that knocked out IFK and saw Frölunda win its group. Then today, EV Zug goalie Leonardo Genoni - who had the most career CHL wins coming into today - gave up three soft goals and was yanked halfway through the second period, and Red Bull Munich wound up winning a bizarre 6-1 game; Genoni is now tied on 25 CHL wins by Red Bull's Danny aus den Birken, who had been in goal for Germany during their run to the silver medal in PyeongChang. Today I watched/listened again to my highlights from the Frölunda vs. Red Bull Munich CHL Final in 2019; it's always fun to be able to refer back or even just think back to previous big games and big moments when commentating on the same players a few years later.

The biggest issue with my broadcast today was that my lip microphone apparently stopped working at some point between my final audio test and the beginning of my commentary - if you go back and listen to the game, the entire pre-game and the first two-thirds or so of the first period all sound like I'm speaking into the internal mic on my PC. Which, apparently, I may actually have been? This might have been nipped in the bud had my technician (who I hadn't worked with before) noticed something was amiss during my pre-game introduction and written me a WhatsApp message that I would have read during the national anthems...but once I'm off and running thereafter, I don't have the time or mental capacity to check for messages amidst everything else I'm trying to do myself. (I was WhatsApped and also texted during the first period, but I only noticed anything was amiss when it seemed like someone was accidentally flipping my talk-back switch on and I went to WhatsApp to complain about it.) This is definitely a flaw with the Spalk interface - they need to be able to yell at me in big letters across the screen in situations like this, I think! - but it sounds like that might be fixable.

Anyway, today I mailed my signed OBS contract to Madrid and have started work on the short biography I need to submit for inclusion in OBS's Commentator Guide that they'll send to all of their network partners for the Winter Olympics...so that's already starting to feel very real to me again! Meanwhile, I'm not scheduled to do any commentating between now and the start of the CHL Knockout Stage on November 16, which is fine insofar as I'm on a family holiday to Skye next week (among other things) and will have some stuff around the house I've been neglecting to catch up on thereafter.
 
2022 Winter Olympics news: I'm starting to get a flow of information about my forthcoming trip to Beijing...and the most interesting (and probably least satisfying) seems to be that Beijing 2022 will be operating on a "closed loop" system, which basically means that they're trying to get everyone into a massive bubble and stop everyone from interacting with the general public at all. I won't be able to use public transport, and although "non-competition venues and other permitted destinations" may be within the closed loop, I reckon my sightseeing/exploration possibilities in Beijing itself will be even more limited than they were in Tokyo this past summer. (Mind you, if I'm calling as much hockey from various venues as I think I will be, I rather doubt I'll have too much time for sightseeing anyway.)

EDIT - actually, I've read further into the Olympic Playbook for workers, etc. like me, and it says "You can only leave [your] hotel for Games-related activities at places on the list of permitted destinations." Sounds like I'll also only be eating either in my hotel or at a venue where I'm working (either the IBC or one of the hockey arenas). Oh well.
 
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Meanwhile, I've kinda been short-changed with regard to commentating on the Champions Hockey League Round of 16, insofar as I'm only calling two games in mid-November (one first leg and one second leg) instead of my usual four. My bosses have decided that of the eight different two-legged matchups, they'd rather have eight different commentators split between them, even though the games are split between Tuesdays and Wednesdays - 7/1 for the first leg, and 5/3 for the second leg - and it would be possible to just use our best seven commentators for the first leg and our best five commentators for the second leg. I thought I'd gotten lucky, insofar as one of our better commentators was only free for the first Tuesday, and I was going to get to call the second leg of his matchup myself (so three games instead of two), but then another commentator employed by an AHL team can only work on the second Tuesday, so they've been grouped together. Not a huge deal, insofar as I got a fair amount of extra work in the group stage and I was never contracted to call more than two games per Knockout Stage round (one in each leg)...but I kinda hate only getting to call two hockey games a month from now until the Olympics, which is basically where I am.

On the other hand, the CHL second legs coincide with a forthcoming week of FIBA World Cup qualifying, so that means there's an extra day on which I might get a basketball gig instead of a hockey gig. I'm kinda hoping I can get enough basketball work over the next few years to be able to target that as the sport I might call instead of baseball and softball at Paris 2024...but that's just the outline of a long-term plan and of course not anything I can count on.