Keeping Score In The Digital Age

Part of my job as a broadcaster is keeping a scorebook during games that I’m calling on TV. It is a pretty essential part of the job. Broadcasters have different needs, even among each other, than say the person keeping the book (or using Game Changer), at your local youth or high school baseball game.

I have been calling games on TV now for six seasons. My first year I did a few college games for CBS Sports Network as well as a handful of Yankees games on radio. I then had a small package of about 15 games for Fox and FS1 and now I am currently in my second season on the Rangers broadcast team where I call around 100 games, including some play-by-play.

Over that time my scorecard has changed. I constantly have tweaked it and think I have what will be my go-to version for at least a little while. Up until this season everything was on paper, I’d create my custom scorebook in MS Word and then have it printed up and spiral bounded at a print shop.

But the digital age is here and that has opened up a whole new world of creativity in scoring. I first saw a broadcaster use an iPad to score games in 2017 when Aaron Goldsmith of the Seattle Mariners crew and Fox/FS1 started using one. Then my partner, Dave Raymond, starting doing the same later that season.

I was intrigued and knew ultimately I would be making the change over to digital, and this year I have. I get lots of questions of how I score these games and this post is designed to answer those questions.

How I Score Digitally

First things first find out what you need and create a template. Below is a picture of my blank scorecard I custom designed on MS Word. After much work, I got it down to a one-pager, 8.5 x 14 and everything can be changed, tweaked or adjusted.

Updated 2020 version.

There’s a lot to unpack but the essentials I like to have for a game are almost all here.

Once lineups are posted I type them into this document. Right-handed hitters in black, lefties in red and switch hitters in green. I also have places for umpires, bullpens, bench players, coaching staff, defense and defensive data.

If you like this template, you can download it here. You can keep it as is or make it your own.

Once lineups and data are inputed I save the document as a PDF onto a cloud service. I then use my iPad to open an app called Good Notes and import my scorecard with lineups and data into the app.

Now in order to score on your iPad you’ll need the latest version of an iPad that you can use with an iPen. I first tried to score on an old iPad with just my finger and quickly realized my finger wasn’t going to hold up after a couple of games. It works, but if you score a lot you may not have much skin left on the tips of your fingers. I took the plunge and bought a new iPad. You don’t need the iPad Pro, the latest and cheapest version of the iPad with iPen will work.

Other Options

Dave and Aaron do it differently. They have scanned the version of a blank scorecard that they like into Good Notes and write everything in with the iPen, lineups, bench, bullpen, etc, right onto their scoresheet. Their way is much more efficient and saves time. I have terrible handwriting and like the look of the typed scoresheet so I take the extra step.

Another option, if you like this template, just download it, clear out all of the info and print copies or have them printed at a print shop and bound together.

With Good Notes you have endless options with color, thickness, fonts, highlighters, etc. As Dave says, I turn scoring a game into arts & crafts time. Scoring is fun and a time honored tradition generations can pass down to each other, now there’s a way to do it that can appeal to 21st century minds.

A Father I Admire

(I originally wrote and posted this on October 4th, 2011)

I’ve been asking for it. Anyone who drives a 16-year-old automobile is asking for it, car trouble. I caught a 6AM flight to Atlanta today and when I returned to long term parking my car started right up, just like it always does. Sitting idle for 5 days didn’t bother old reliable, she did it again, or so I thought.

As I pulled out of my parking spot and made my way to the exit my car made an extremely inconvenient decision, it wasn’t going to go any faster than 10 MPH. I thought maybe it needed more time to warm up, but that didn’t help. It didn’t matter what I did, when I floored the gas pedal I could get up to about 10 MPH and then she’d just stutter. There was no getting around this, I needed help.

I slowly made my way to a bank parking lot and called my insurance company, they would send a tow. I also called my wife, to let her know she would have to make the usual 1 hour drive to pick me up. Problem was it was 9AM and she would be coming with traffic, I’d see her in 75 minutes at best.

I was told my wait for the tow truck was going to be 45 minutes and much to my surprise it was right on time. I thought for sure 45 minutes meant an hour or longer and with it taking my wife at least that long to come get me I fully prepared for lots of alone time in that bank parking lot.

After an initial failed attempt we finally got my car on the lift. The driver locked it down and he was ready to go. “You riding with me?”, he asked.

The thought never crossed my mind. My car was getting towed to within 10 minutes of my home and we’d be going against traffic, I should have thought of riding with him in the first place. I called my wife, she was still a good 50 minutes away.

“Turn around”, I told her, “I’ll ride with the tow truck driver.”

I was little annoyed she wasn’t closer. While we were loading my car on the truck I fully anticipated her pulling up to the bank to pick me up any minute.

As fate would have it she wasn’t even close. Climbing into the dirty diesel tow truck I wondered if the driver and I would talk at all, and if so, what the conversation might be like. It was 44 miles to where we were going, it would most likely take all of 50 minutes. I knew this because my insurance company would only cover the first 25 miles, the last 19 were on me, at $2.75 per mile.

I let the driver set the tone and the small talk began. First about my car, it’s life span and mileage. Then about how he once owned the same make, but different model, and got 350,000 miles out of it before selling it for $10,000. I was impressed by the story. I had half the mileage and I’d be lucky to get $2,500 for my car.

The conversation turned to family and the driver was quick to share about his, one son, three grandchildren.  Three grandchildren? I never would have guessed it.

Proud of his grandchildren the driver couldn’t wait to tell me about the two oldest, both girls, 7 & 6 years old and sweet as could be. He was just as excited about the 3rd, a 7 month old boy, and the anticipation of him getting big and doing boy stuff with him.

He told me how he loves taking his granddaughters on dates. I know they’re pretty young, but “it’s never too early to learn”, he explained. He talked about how important it was to him that they knew how a man was supposed to treat a woman and that they should never accept anything less from a man than the way grandpa treats them. Hold the door open, use good manners, and make sure he puts you first. If he doesn’t do those things for you, then he doesn’t deserve you. “I want them to know that and always believe that.”

It didn’t have to be said, both the driver and I knew what kind of man he wanted to keep his granddaughters away from. I was instantly on his team, picturing those little girls who I never met and never will, hoping for them that they make the best decisions when it comes to boyfriends and eventually a husband. I wondered if these girls knew how lucky they were to have such a loving grandfather and it made me question if I was doing enough with my own 10-year-old angel.

I shared about my family and how my little guy was a terror, full of energy and keeping us on our toes. He laughed that comfortable grandpa laugh as if almost to say, “those darn little rascals, aren’t they the best?”

It was the warmest laugh you’ve ever heard and filled with sincerity. It made me wish I had more people in my life that laughed that way. It was eerily similar to Mykelti Williamson’s portrayal of Josh Gibson in HBO’s Soul of the Game. If you know the movie you know the laugh, it was spot on and genuine.

The driver pressed on about his family. He was engaged to his only son’s mother, but a life together would never happen. Before they could get married she fell victim to crack cocaine addiction. Introduced to her by her friends it consumed her life and destroyed the future they had planned together.

“She was a beautiful woman, sweet and full of life, the addiction took all of that away”, he told me with the pain still in his eyes.

He did everything he could to get her off of it. “I threw her my life jacket”, he said, “My life jacket! And every time I pulled her in she’d fall away again.” He couldn’t do it any more, he was risking too much. His life jacket was all he had and now there was a baby boy involved. “Addiction is a powerful thing, she was an adult, I had to let her go.”

He gained sole custody before his only boy was two years old. “I always wanted a daughter, but now I got 2 granddaughters to fill what I missed.”

He did his best to surround his son with female role models, his mother, sister and an eventual girlfriend all pitched in, but it was grandma carrying most of the load. With all the support he undoubtedly received his son was still missing something.

“When he was 5 years old my boy asked me, ‘Daddy, why doesn’t Mommy love me?’”

Can you imagine having to answer that question from your son? I can’t. There is nothing, not race, not gender, not socio-economics, absolutely nothing, that separates us from the innate desire to be loved. We all want it, we all need it, children especially and the driver’s only son wanted to know why his Mommy wouldn’t give it to him.

I’m not sure there is any perfect answer to that boy’s question but I don’t doubt my tow truck driver handled it like the inspirational father he is.

We delved in to work. I was hoping he would never ask me what I did or used to do and thankfully the conversation never got there. I didn’t want the focus on me, I wanted it on him. I was curious about his tow truck business.

“Well, I was working electrical down at the airport but they would only give me 40 hours a week.” Only 40 hours a week? I quickly realized a full time job was just a starting point for my tow truck driver and not nearly an end.

This single dad eventually started driving a tow truck to pick up extra work. It led to him owning his own wrecker, the one we were currently driving in. With 450,000 miles it was solely responsible for buying three more trucks and birthing a successful tow trucking business. And by successful I mean after 50+ hour long work weeks he’s left with just enough money to take those beautiful granddaughters out on dates, so that they can learn what a real man is and how they should always be treated.

I’m too cheap to buy a new car and my wife was taking longer than she probably should have to pick me up. Because of that I gained a little perspective today. I met a man who single handedly defines what unselfish means, what work ethic look like and regardless of what life throws at him, keeps his focus and priority on what was most important to him…the people he loves. Because of him I’ve hopefully become a better father.

I met a role model today, he’s a tow truck driver and I never got his name.

Mound Visits: The Great Debate With An Easy Solution

It’s that time of year where rules change conversations are taking place. One of the ongoing biggest concerns for MLB is pace of play. This issue will likely never go away but that won’t stop baseball from constantly looking to eliminate dead time and make our game more appealing to a younger audience.

The pitch clock has been the most talked about topic, but mound visits, especially from catcher to pitcher, are also something that need to be addressed.

Astros’ pitcher Lance McCullers, Jr. had an interesting response to MLB Network’s Chris Rose when Rose reached out to baseball fans via Twitter to gauge their opinion about proposed pace of play changes.

While McCullers is right about the advances made in cheating, both legal and illegal, I disagree that increased mound visits are the only way to prevent the other team from stealing signs. Notably, McCullers was visited by his catcher Brian McCann six times in the first inning of Game 7 of the 2017 World Series. Yes, six. Certainly those were not all about signs.

Regardless of what each of those meetings were about, let’s stay on signs, sign stealing  and the very simple fix that would help minimize mound visits.

The options for disguising signs are endless. It would be very easy for a pitcher to have two or three sets of signs that he can change throughout an inning or even in the middle of an at bat without the need for the catcher to come visit him.

Communicating with your catcher which set of signs you are using is as simple as flashing 1, 2 or 3 fingers to your catcher.

The most common set of pitcher signs is “second sign, shake first.” Very simply, the second sign flashed from the catcher is the pitch he wants you to throw. If you shake him off, then you are using the first sign.

For example: The catcher flashes 1-2-1-4. He wants “2”, a curveball for most pitchers. If the pitcher shakes and the catcher flashes 1-3-4-1 then he is calling for “1”, commonly a fastball.

Now because that system is so common and so simple, it is easy to pick up on. There are so many more intricate ways to disguise your signs. Here are examples of three sets that pitchers could use and eliminate those mound visits.

1 – “Strikes plus one, shake last”

This what I used in my career and what I loved about it was that the hot sign changed throughout the at bat. No strikes, first sign was hot. One strike, then it was the second sign. Two strikes, then it was the third sign. If I shook the catcher off then it was the last sign.

Example:

0-0 count 1-3-4-1, “1” is what the catcher is calling for.

2-1 count 1-3-4-1, “3” is the sign called for, despite the same sign sequence being flashed.

2-2 count 1-3-4-1, “4” is the sign being called for, again, despite the same sign sequence being used.

Using this set of signs with or without runners on base make it very difficult for anyone in the ballpark to steal your signs.

2 – “Outs plus one, shake first”

This is pretty straight forward. The hot sign is the number of outs plus one. No outs, first sign, one out second sign and two outs third sign. If the pitcher shakes the catcher off then it is the first sign.

3 – “Sign after 2, shake last”

The two becomes the indicator and whichever sign follows is the pitch being called for.

2-3-1-3, the catcher is calling for “3”, often a slider.

3-1-2-1, the catcher is calling for “1”, often a fastball.

The options really are endless and we haven’t even explored “touches” as signs. You have seen this before. That is when a catcher will use his bare hand to touch his shin guards, chest protector, face mask, etc. to relay signs to the pitcher.

We have also seen catchers use those wristbands that have a sleeve for notes, like a quarterback uses. So making sure he has all the information he needs for each pitcher in the game is simple.

Mound visits are an issue and need to be addressed. The excuse that they are necessary because pitchers need to change their signs often is not good enough. And since pitchers are the smartest guys on the field, that fix is easy.

 

Using Data to Teach Your Kids How to Pitch

Advanced metrics and new ways of acquiring data have been the talk of baseball for better than a decade. The way teams are built and players are analyzed has changed dramatically, and while things can get contentious sometimes between the old and new schools, these changes are undoubtedly for the good.

For the general public we get to go along for the ride. There are great websites, some that incredibly have no paywall, that give the curious fan an opportunity to sift through some of this tremendous data. That information can be overwhelming for a novice but I found a new, practical use for the data, a way to teach young kids strategies in baseball. More specifically, pitching strategy.

I have two boys that pitch, one who is about to turn 18 and another who is 9. My 9-year old has gotten to the point where simply throwing strikes is not enough to be successful with the level of team he is playing with now.

I have markers for young pitchers that, in my opinion, they must check off before they move on to the next step. Age is not the only factor in the process. Good throwing mechanics is the foundation, throwing consistent strikes with the four seam fastball is next. Once you are there you are ready to learn the change-up. After you can throw those two pitches for strikes with consistency and good mechanics you are ready to dig deeper on pitch location. That’s where I am with my youngest and we had an interest exchange recently that I think really helped him.

I asked him if he was just trying to throw strikes down the middle in his last outing and he said “yes.” I asked him if he thought about moving his fastball around the zone and at all and if he knew where he should be throwing his change-up. He said, “not really.”

I began explaining some of the fundamentals of pitch location and usage when I quickly realized I was boring him to death. Visual learning is generally just so much more effective in my experiences, especially with young boys, and so off to the iPad we went.

My son is right-handed and I wanted to teach him about his fastball versus right-handed hitters early in the count. So I showed him this graphic below from Baseball Savant. This is all 0-0 count 4-seam fastballs from right-handed pitchers to right-handed hitters that were called strikes in MLB in 2017.

I can tell him, “when in doubt, fastball down and away” and he may even hear me. Or I can show him this graphic above and it will likely resonate much more.

I then wanted to teach him about pitching ahead in the count and where he could best use his fastball for a strikeout. He is an Angels fan (forgive me Texas Rangers fans, I’m working on him, but he loved Mike Trout before I ever got the Rangers job). So I showed him Angels right-handed pitcher’s fastballs from 2017 that resulted in a swinging strikeout in 0-2 and 1-2 counts against right-handed hitters. Baseball Savant came through again. 

Clearly elevating the fastball in and above the zone and up and away were the places to go for Angels pitchers (as it would be for most). These heat maps are great for demonstrations like this and were an eye opener for my little guy.

The change-up was next. The change-up is one of the most effective pitches a pitcher can use, it is also one of the more difficult to teach young ones. One reason is it is kind of a boring pitch. The other is that it can be difficult for young arms to find the speed differential you would like to see between their fastballs and change-ups that can truly make it an effective pitch.

When I asked my youngest where he thought he should throw his change-up to right-handed hitters he guessed/answered “up and in?” So we went to Fan Graphs to find the right-handed pitcher with the highest change-up usage in 2017. Hello Marco Estrada!

From there it was back to Baseball Savant for another fun heat map. This time I wanted Marco Estrada change-ups versus right-handed hitters that resulted in outs.

Not surprisingly most were down in the zone and middle-away to right-handed hitters. And versus left-handed hitters both the zone breakdown and heat map really drove home the point, keep the change-up away!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are endless applications and opportunities to use new data to teach time proven strategies in our game to your kids. It’s time well spent with them and you may even turn them on to a new hobby, baseball data mining. If at any point though they ask you about bullpenning realize you’ve gone too far and it’s time to turn back to conventional wisdom.

 

Confession and Statement of Apology

Calling games for a Major League Baseball team is both an honor and a privilege. These positions are rare and difficult to come by. For me, as a member of the Texas Rangers broadcast team, this is a dream job.

With great privilege though comes great responsibility. I not only represent myself every time I get behind the microphone, but I also represent the Texas Rangers organization and their great fans. That is something that has never been lost on me.

Life on the road as a member of the traveling party for a Major League team can bring many temptations. The pitfalls are prevalent and if you’re not careful you can stumble into some unscrupulous behavior.

It is with great regret and shame that I have to both announce and take ownership of recent transgression I committed on the road.

The Rangers were recently on a 9-game, 10-day West Coast swing with stops in Los Angeles, Seattle and Oakland. The trip was a long one, and while that is not a reason that would excuse my actions, it’s is undoubtedly a part of the cause.

Coming from a national job with Fox and FS1 I should have known better. I was groomed by some of the best, where the expectations were set high. Taking a local job after working exclusively national should have meant I was ready for this, but apparently I was not.

On September 15th and then again on September 23rd I did something no self-respecting broadcaster and family man should ever do.

Dave Raymond and CJ Nitkowski of Fox Sports Southwest calling a game vs. the Los Angeles Angels.
September 15, 2017.
Dave Raymond and CJ Nitkowski of Fox Sports Southwest calling a game vs. the Oakland A's.
September 23, 2017

I wore the same tie on a road trip.

At first I had hoped no one would notice. Then I realized of course they would, this matters to people and it probably should matter to me more. I then thought if I went with different knots, one dimple, one dimple-less, that I could fool our audience. What was I thinking?

The guilt finally caught up to me and I knew that I had to come clean before the media critic bloggers exposed me.

I want to apologize to my wife, three children, the Texas Rangers, their fans and the wardrobe department at Fox.

This is no way represents who I really am. For those who know me well, that really know the true CJ Nitkowski, they know I have always been better than this.

I can only ask for your forgiveness and a second chance. My family and I would also ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time. There is a lot of repairing to do and time will be our greatest healer.

Thank you.

When Broadcasting

I’m only in my fifth year as a broadcaster and I love what I do. Lord willing I will stay in the business for a long time. I really enjoy talking about the business with other broadcasters, producers, directors  and people behind the scenes. I’ve learned so much in my short time behind the microphone through those conversations.

I especially enjoy talking to some of the great voices in the field whenever that opportunity is presented and I usually pepper them with questions about what they have found that works, and what doesn’t, over the course of their careers. I’ve been fortunate to bend the ears of the likes of Dan Schulman, Al Michaels, Chris Myers, Joe Buck, John Sterling, Howie Rose and many, many more. The good guys are always so gracious in answering my questions and paying what they have learned forward.

Through those conversations I compiled a list of things I want to remember when broadcasting, whether it be studio work or a live game. I read this list a few times a year and still add to it if something grabs me that is worth adding. Some of these conclusions I drew on my own and some of them were tips I picked up from others. My list is below with some additional notes for any aspiring broadcaster. This is who I want to be when I am on the job.

  1. Be prepared. Do your research.
    • Seems simple but you would be surprised how many analysts think they can just “show and go.” Prep mattered as a player and it matters as a broadcaster. It’s easy to spot who isn’t prepared and that often makes for a bad listen.
  2. Be physically ready, sleep and eat well.
    • Sounds trivial but it is not. Much like in your playing days physical condition matters. David Wells threw a perfect game hung over. I couldn’t call a perfect game very well hungover. If you can’t bring the energy when it matters most your audience will know it and they’ll be disappointed.
  3. Don’t talk at your audience, talk to them. Respect them, treat them like a friend.
    • Nobody likes to listen to a know-it-all in the booth. Yes, you’re the “expert” and your observations and opinions should carry more weight than the average fan. That doesn’t mean you should sound like you think you’re smartest guy in the room. Humility goes a long way and I think plays well when you combine it with your expert opinion.
  4. Dig in, be smart and compelling but don’t talk over the average fan’s head.
    • In baseball analytics are prominent and I constantly talk to folks in the business about working them into a broadcast. It’s not easy to do. I don’t want to leave any fans behind so the balancing act can be tricky. Some fans don’t know how the infield fly rule works and some fans think you’re archaic for using batting average as a way to evaluate a hitter and they want more. I try to speak to the masses while sprinkling in something for fans who love advanced metrics. Rule of thumb: if you can’t explain it clearly in 10-15 seconds don’t bother.
  5. One concise solid point is better than three rushed and jumbled points.
    • When you do your research and prep for a game or a studio show you may feel may passionate about the depth of information you have for a specific topic. The problem when you try to cram in too much information is that then most of your points are lost. Be clear and strong with one point instead of rushed and a mess with multiple points. If you haven’t gone too long and aren’t talking too fast there may be time for another point. It can take a while to feel out what works and what doesn’t.
  6. Don’t save your best material.
    • Along those same lines whatever you feel is the best point don’t save it. This is especially true for live studio shows. If you have a great nugget or observation than get to it right away.
  7. Keep a steady, consistent pace. Inflect when the moment calls for it, but don’t overdo it.
    • In general I am a soft speaker and can be monotone. That doesn’t work on TV or radio. So I get up for broadcasts and now I actually have to be more aware of not showing too much energy, talking too fast or raising my voice too high during games and shows. That is likely the caffeine. There is a balance in there, save the inflection for the big moment, not for the ground ball to the shortstop in the 8th inning when the score is 8-1. You’ll drive your audience crazy.
  8. Wardrobe and tie knot must be on point.
    • You’re on TV, look sharp. I have become such a tie knot snob since getting into this business. The Fox/FS1 wardrobe crew spoiled me in my years doing studio work in Los Angeles, but they also made me raise my game. Start paying attention, whether it be sports or news, there are a lot of bad tie knots out there. Better effort please. If it’s radio, sweatpants and a dirty T-shirt are allowed.
  9. Sit up straight.
    • I can get lazy and round my shoulders and that’s not a good look on TV. When I do a studio show I actually sit at the end of the chair to keep me propped up. Slouching does not come across well on the screen.
  10. Avoid “when I played” at all costs, sparingly mix in firsthand experiences.
    • It’s annoying, right? As an analyst you are undoubtedly going to refer to experiences you have had over the course of your career and they absolutely can be relevant to the moment. However, I try to pick my spots the best I can and not do it too often. It can be a tough listen when it becomes more about when you played and less about what’s actually happening on the field.
  11. Listen to your partner(s), respond when it feels right, don’t force it.
    • It amazes me when I listen to a TV broadcast or a radio show and hear one of the broadcasters repeat a point the other one just made. That’s an obvious sign that your partner wasn’t listening. It’s going to happen occasionally, your partner might be distracted or maybe a producer is talking in his ear and he didn’t hear you, but be aware, it doesn’t sound good. The same goes for interviews. Listen to the person you are interviewing, there may be a great follow up question you hadn’t thought of if you’re engaged. If you’re just rifling through your pre-determined questions it will be obvious and the interview will really lack authenticity and fall flat.
  12. Don’t forget how hard the game is to play.
    • The game looks really easy from the booth. It’s a lot slower when you’re perched in the broadcast booth or watching on TV. I absolutely abhor when I hear a broadcaster say things like “you just can’t swing at that pitch” or “you can’t throw that pitch in that spot.” No kidding, thanks for that awesome insight. Those are some of the laziest ways an analyst can comment on a play. This game is really, really, hard. When a player makes a mistake it’s because he’s playing a difficult game at the highest level. Give your audience something more than that.
  13. Balance the three “S’s”:  Stories, Stats and Silence.
    • I love this piece of advice I got from Brian Anderson (Brewers/TBS). Too many stories are boring, too many stats are more boring and too much silence will put a viewer to sleep. I struggle with the silence the most. When it’s quiet for 3 seconds it feels like 3 minutes and I often think to myself “people are waiting for you to talk, say something!” I purposely take moments in a game where I will not talk in between a pitch or two. That’s usually after I feel like I have been talking too much. I called my very first play-by-play game in September of 2016 and Kevin Burkhardt gave me some great advice that I took. He said, “Write down on a piece of paper ‘Don’t Talk’ and tape it to the desk.” I did, with his initials next to it. Kevin is one of the best play-by-play men and a tremendous studio host. Silence is OK.
  14. A first guess is always better than a second guess.
    • We are all capable of being the Monday morning quarterback. Give your audience more. Take a well thought out, based on your prep and experience, first guess. “He may steal here”…”This is an ideal time for a hit and run”….”I like the fastball up and in for a strikeout in this count.” You sound smart when you get it right and no one cares if you get it wrong, unless it is something outlandish. Which leads me to a good way to finish this up: Don’t make outlandish predictions.
  15. Don’t be a know-it-all smarmy d-bag.
    • Just don’t. Nobody likes that guy.

Hello Texas Rangers Fans!

rangers-logoIt is an honor for me to have been offered a position in your TV broadcast booth and to be part of a great broadcast team with the Rangers. This is an opportunity of a lifetime for a broadcaster and I will treat it as such. While I have learned in this subjective business that you’ll never have a 100% approval rating as a broadcaster (Vin Scully and other immortals aside) please know that I will be working hard to do my part to bring you the very best baseball broadcast I can.

I will also tell you that I am very excited about what Fox Sports Southwest is up to and you should be too. There is a revamped team in place behind the scenes that highly values your broadcast and has a plan to make this the best local broadcast in the game. It is an exciting time for Texas Rangers baseball and I am grateful that the Rangers and Fox Sports Southwest brought me on to help them achieve their goals.

A renewed commitment with an added new face means change, and change in a local broadcast can sometimes be unsettling for viewers. I promise you this, we will not try to reinvent how baseball is brought to you on television. We do however recognize the trends in the game and we will take what has already been a great broadcast and continue to build on it. We respect how important this broadcast is to you and we believe that you will really enjoy your 2017 Rangers baseball broadcast and beyond. Continue reading Hello Texas Rangers Fans!

A Change for 2017, Joining the Texas Rangers Broadcast Team

rangers-logoStarting this season I am taking a position with the Texas Rangers to become an analyst on their television broadcasts on Fox Sports Southwest. I will be sharing color duties with the great Tom Grieve as well as occasionally serving on play-by-play. Dave Raymond will be on the play-by-play call full time and Emily Jones will continue on sideline.

Accepting this position means that I will have to adjust what I am currently doing at FS1. I will likely continue to call a dozen or so Saturday national games on Fox and FS1, like I have been doing for the past three years. However, I will have to give up most, if not all, of the regular season studio work I have been doing on shows like MLB WhipAround and the MLB on Fox Pregame Show.

Some of the many incredible people I have worked with at FS1 studios in Los Angeles the past three years. Apologies to anyone I missed.

The thought of giving up my studio work at FS1, especially Whip, was the most difficult part of this decision. I have put everything I have into that show since its inception and took a lot of pride in the product we have delivered in our three years. The people involved like stage crew, stats, producers, graphics, makeup, wardrobe, social media, security and our on-air talent are all like family to me. I could not have asked for a better work environment or better people to work with. Walking away from that was something I really wrestled over.

I am extremely grateful to the executives at FS1 for being open to making adjustments to my current contract so that I could pursue this position with the Rangers. They have been overwhelmingly supportive of me in my time there. I am also incredibly humbled that the Rangers see me as a guy that could help them continue to bring great baseball on television to the team’s fans. I now get the best of both worlds, local TV in a great market and national games on the network that knows how to best bring them to you the viewer.

I plan to continue my radio work with MLB Network Radio on Sirius/XM as well as Eye on Baseball on CBS Sports Radio on Saturday mornings during the baseball season. Currently I have no writing or digital obligations in 2017.

This is one of those times in life where I am as excited as I am nervous. I had a great gig in Los Angeles at FS1 with great people. This new opportunity in Texas though is one that rarely becomes available and I couldn’t let it pass by. I can’t wait to get started with the Rangers.

Thin Skinned: My Guidelines for Blocking, Muting and Unfollowing on Social Media

Social media has this really strange thing going where it can be incredibly useful and painfully unbearable all at the same time. I value social media, especially Twitter, as I place where I can:

  • Take in necessary information for my job.
  • Network and develop relationships with people in the industry.
  • Point to where my work can be seen, heard or read.
  • Interact with baseball fans.
  • Make lame jokes.

That’s the good. The bad unfortunately is the reaction and comments you sometimes get from folks on social media. Somewhere along the way social media became a place where people felt they can just vent at you, curse at you and tell you how horrible or how dumb your opinions are. Continue reading Thin Skinned: My Guidelines for Blocking, Muting and Unfollowing on Social Media

ESPN’s Keith Law’s Attempt to Defame Me Highlights Dangers of Social Media Overreactions

I was watching the White Sox game on Monday night when something on the replay of a Jimmy Rollins double caught my attention. What I assumed was a young fan, glued to their phone, head down, while Rollins ripped the pitch into right field. I took a screen shot and made an average at best joke…

Screen Shot 2016-04-19 at 10.30.14 AM

It seemed pretty harmless to me. My intentions were simple, we look at our phones too much, myself included, and miss a lot of life that is happening right in front of us. I meant nothing more, nothing less. That was 11PM ET. Continue reading ESPN’s Keith Law’s Attempt to Defame Me Highlights Dangers of Social Media Overreactions