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This Won’t End Well: TBS Adds Batting Cage To Studio Set For Playoff Coverage

With playoffs beginning tomorrow, TBS has announced a way in which they have ramped up their ability to provide improved coverage of the 2010 MLB Playoffs (a process they began in earnest last year when the network mercifully canned Skip Caray’s ass – thanks, guys!). The most recent upgrade the cable channel made is that the in-studio analysts have a new toy which they can play with while talking over themselves and awkwardly articulating their opinions: a honest-to-goodness batting cage along with a fully-functioning pitching machine. That just sounds dangerous. Someone’s going to get hurt, but it will probably be some cameraman, you know, somebody who doesn’t matter.

The entire set, including the batting cage, is ready to roll in TBS’s Atlanta studios and will make its debut on Wednesday. According to a report by USA Today‘s Michael Hiestand, the most plugged-in reporter in the business covering sports media, TBS coordinating producer Tim Kiely added that the cage can be lengthened to 60 feet and perhaps jokingly said that he’s interested to see “if we can get the pitching machine up to 100 miles per hour” and let analyst Cal Ripken take a few cuts.

Once again, for a live broadcast, this sounds awfully risky. Even worse? Kiely insinuated that he’s considered allowing fellow studio analysts Dennis Eckersley and the portly David Wells to pitch into the cage and see if they still have the skills. I have no doubt whatsoever that Eckersley can still get it over the plate, but Wells? The last thing we need to see is Wells crap himself while trying to groove a fastball over the plate. That could get real ugly real quickly.

But I have to admit I like the concept. As Kiely pointed out, most of the new bells and whistles getting rolled out as it pertains to advancements in the coverage of sports is technology-based, so for TBS to go with a completely realistic, unspoiled simulation of what’s actually occurring on the field is refreshing.

“With everybody doing virtual technology, I wanted to put a ball in somebody’s hand. Guess that makes me old school.”

No, Mr. Kiely. Wanting to put a ball in somebody’s hand doesn’t make you old school, it makes you a lot like ESPN MLB analyst John Kruk after one too many adult beverages. You see, because John Kruk only has one…well, you know.

TBS to add batting cage to MLB playoff studio show [USA Today]