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Coaches' Microphones Let Fans Listen In On Series

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Coaches' Microphones Let Fans Listen In On Series


Coaches' Microphones Let Fans Listen In On Series

Coaches' Microphones Let Fans Listen In On Series

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The World Series is letting fans get ever closer to the action. Both the Phillies and Rays' coaches are now wearing TV microphones. Bob Bowman, CEO of Major League Baseball Advanced Media, talks about how TV coverage of baseball's biggest series is changing.


Back now with Day to Day. The Philadelphia Phillies took game four of the World Series last night, so they are ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays three games to one. Ryan Howard hit two home runs for the Phillies. And if you were watching last night or many other nights recently, probably you're aware that we are now hearing players. We're hearing what they're saying because they're miked-up - I think that's the term that they're using. We're speaking with Bob Bowman. He's CEO of advanced media at Major League Baseball. Bob, welcome to Day to Day. Is it called miking up?

Mr. BOB BOWMAN (CEO of Advanced Media, Major League Baseball): Sure. It's called a lot of things, but miking up is as good as any. And what it allows is the fans at home to hear what's really going on at a baseball game. Baseball has that pace of a game that's so enjoyable, where the players can talk to each other and occasionally to an umpire, and the managers do the same. And aren't we all just dying to find out what they're saying?

And so, on, we're actually running a feed, four different feeds from various vantage points in the ballpark, including the dugout and with people who are miked up, including Joe Maddon last night. And it makes for an interesting game to be even better.

CHADWICK: Hold on. He's Joe Maddon. He's the manager of the Tampa Bay Rays. He's speaking to an umpire in game one.

Mr. JOE MADDON (Manager, Tampa Bay Devil Rays): So he's going home all the way right there, and then he decided to go to first base. And that's why he got it as a balk. If he was a reader, I have no dispute whatsoever.

Unidentified Umpire: I understand what you're saying. The only thing I look for at that is if I see a step. His feet start this way together, and he ended up stepping that close, that much closer to first base.

CHADWICK: You know, Bob, listening to this, I'm not entirely sure what they're talking about, the read and all that. But it does feel intimate. I'm a part of that conversation.

Mr. BOWMAN: Well, it's all English. It's a slightly different language. And what this recent clip showed is words and intonations and sort of definitions and one person's view versus another's, and in the end, the umpire wins almost every case, except, I guess, in some replays now. We're going to start to hear these words. When Joe Maddon says he has a read, and it looks like this, and that's why it's a balk, or it's not a balk, we're going to hear more and more of that, of what players are really saying out there.

CHADWICK: The thing is, though, that, when you talk about listening to the views of players and the umpires down there, you know, theoretically, OK, fine. But we all have these images of red-faced managers and players screaming at umpires, and occasionally, the umpires turning a little red-faced and yelling back. And I'd love to hear what they're saying, but then I wouldn't want to broadcast it.

Mr. BOWMAN: Well...

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. BOWMAN: Certainly, some discretion is required, and rarely are these things live. They're taped and then replayed when they're found to be suitable. But I would say this also. Guys like Joe Maddon and Charlie Manuel, these are very smart guys at the top of their game, and they're a big reason why both teams are in the World Series today.

CHADWICK: I wonder if the umpire and the coach or somebody else might say, yeah, I have to be controlling this mic. I want to be able to reach around and switch the thing off because you might need a private moment with somebody, know what I mean?

Mr. BOWMAN: Well, it's up to the broadcaster to use its discretion and to make sure that, if there is a rare moment of true insight - or not true insight, but we're people are truly human and might say something that they wish would not be broadcast, it's not going to be broadcast. Those are the terms and conditions that we have with all the players and the managers and even the umps is that, if something is said that is unfortunate, however true it may be, it's not going to be aired. Almost without exception, it will not be aired. And so increasingly, with technology - I guess this is the overall point, those who are on center stage have to understand the camera or the microphone does not blink.

CHADWICK: Bob Bowman runs advanced dmedia at Major League Baseball. Bob, thank you.

Mr. BOWMAN: Happy to join you.

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