Broadcaster Leads Effort To "Re-Create" Minor League Games In 2021
At least for the early portion of the season, the soundtrack to the summer might seem a little different. Under normal conditions, radio stations across the country would be humming with play-by-play broadcasters describing games unfolding in front of their eyes.
These are not normal conditions.
The coronavirus pandemic canceled the 2020 season and has already delayed the 2021 season by roughly a month. Even when games begin, a heap of Covid-19 protocols will make day-to-day operations much different.
As part of those regulations—and also as a measure to save some money in a sport which has not brought in much revenue since September of 2019—some teams will elect to keep their broadcasters at home when the team hits the road.
Some teams will rely on the home broadcast as a substitute. Others might opt for no broadcast at all. But a few others will reach into the playbook of Lansing broadcaster Jesse Goldberg-Strassler (and plenty of broadcasters from long-ago eras) and “re-create” games live with the help of MiLB.TV or GameDay and a collection of sound effects.
After coming up with the idea out of necessity when he was broadcasting in indy ball, Goldberg-Strassler now re-creates one game a year with Lansing. This year, that total will jump significantly. He and his counterparts in the High-A Central will all be kept from road trips for at least the first month of the year.
Some have started to reach out to Goldberg-Strassler for his secrets … and his bed of sound effects.
“It was brought to my attention by a friend of mine broadcasting, who said, ‘Hey, could I get your audio? Because I think I might be forced to use it, depending on if we're allowed to go on the road.’ ” Goldberg-Strassler said. “And then, a couple of weeks later, two more broadcasters reached out to me. And that was when it first started dawning on me.”
This year, some broadcasters will re-create games out of necessity. Even before the pandemic, though, Goldberg-Strassler suggested to his colleagues that they might find it fun to try just once. First, it’s fun. Second, and perhaps most important, it gives broadcasters the perspective of the fan, who cannot see anything happening during the game.
Gaining that wisdom might help them better learn which areas they need to key in on most to give their audience the clearest picture possible.
“It's really good for setting up your broadcasts from that point on. Once you do, then you can say ‘OK, the next time I see the field, I now know what I can do for my audience,’ ” Goldberg-Strassler said. “So I've found it very valuable.
“And I've also found it valuable for simply understanding where we've come as broadcasters, because the whole reason that game recreations took place in the first place was that broadcasters weren't allowed to be at the ballpark, they couldn't travel it was too expensive to travel, it was better to call the games from the studio.”
The pandemic has caused cost-saving methods to come to the forefront once again, meaning some broadcasters will rely on re-creation for the same reasons the practice was first dreamt up. As the season goes on, if the trend lines associated with the pandemic and vaccinations remain positive, some broadcasters might hit the road again.
Some, however, might decide they are in too big of a financial hole to return to broadcasting as normal until the 2022 season. No matter how long the interim, broadcasters for those teams might have to rely on a time-tested method to improve their skills.
“It's all about understanding the art form,” Goldberg-Strassler said, “the craft of the baseball radio broadcast, and what you need to do to serve your listeners best.”