This is neat. Game 1 of the NLCS will be on Fox, and we’ll have Joe Buck, Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci in the booth. But over on their sister station Fox Sports 1 they’re going to do a little experiment. Here’s Rob Neyer explaining it:
Game 1 of the NLCS, powered by JABO, and broadcast on FOX Sports 1 on October 11 at 8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific . . . NLCS on FOX Sports 1 Powered by JABO will focus on statistics, sabermetrics, and graphics, with plenty of debate and conversation while the action plays out on the field. We’ll utilize a double-box format, with the live game action in one box, and our studio hosts and guests in another, along with a constant flow of graphics.
This could be a total mess. It could be pretty cool. I wonder/worry about the box with the actual game being too small and the box with the talking heads like Kevin Burkhardt, C.J. Nitkowski, Gabe Kapler and Neyer being too big. Not that I have anything against those guys — I love ’em — but because it’s pretty much all about the game action, right? We don’t need to see new analysts in order to get a new kind of analysis.
That quibble aside, I like the idea of Fox trying something new. I feel like the next frontier of baseball broadcasts will involve moving away from the traditional play-by-play/color model we have now (which was developed ages ago). Perhaps there will be options for multiple types of commentary, with the viewer able to choose like the SAP button or whatever. The traditional. The analysis-heavy like Fox is trying here. Maybe a no-commentary option. Maybe one in which guys just talk about the game like you might in a bar. I dunno. There are tons of possibilities, especially when you consider that a huge number of people watch these games with two screens anyway, be it a tablet or a smartphone or whatever at their side.
My guess is that, whatever happens on October 11 with this experiment, a real alternative to the classic setup will take a while to develop. But I’m glad to see someone starting somewhere.