Behind The Scenes

Shulman copes with hectic openers


For Sunday Night Baseball play-by-play commentator Dan Shulman, baseball’s regular-season return means calling three games in four days to start the season. That means hustle and bustle, preparation on planes and in cabs, press box food, and dragging luggage through busy airports.Seem daunting? Not for Dan. He only sees it as fun.

“I can’t wait to start the season with three games in four days.  I do a lot of this kind of travelling for basketball in the winter, and consider it an adventure,” he said.

The new Sunday Night Baseball team of Shulman, Orel Hershiser, and Bobby Valentine will travel to Los Angeles for ESPN’s presentation of MLB Opening Night — Giants at Dodgers — on Thursday.  They then fly to Texas for Rangers versus Red Sox on Friday. They hop back on a flight to L.A. to prepare for the first official Sunday Night Baseball — Giants at Dodgers again — on April 3.  LAX always presents a challenge, even if it’s a simple case of mistaken identity.

“I’ve actually been asked at LAX if I was Sean McDonough or Jay Bilas. Go figure,” Shulman said.

This season brings a year of firsts for ESPN’s baseball coverage. It’s the first year Shulman will team with Hershiser and Valentine as the Sunday Night Baseball team; it’s the first year Baseball Tonight is hitting the road; and it’s the first year an opening week schedule has been this frantic. In light of it all, Shulman sticks to his no-nonsense approach to travel:

“I get there as late as I can, board last and keep to myself.  I only do two things on planes: work and sleep. As long as I have time to change out of my suit each day and into my jeans before we get on the plane, it’s all good!”

Even as painless as his travel habits appear, sometimes you can’t avoid a horror story on the road.

“I had a crazy trip through Cincinnati one time where I spent two-and-a-half days in the airport during an ice storm, eating pistachios, because the airport staff couldn’t even make it in to open the airport restaurants.”

Shulman and the Sunday Night Baseball team and Baseball Tonight aren’t the only ones hitting the road opening week. The new ESPN Radio team of Jon Sciambi and Chris Singleton will call four games in four days, and the Monday Night Baseball team of Sean McDonough, Rick Sutcliffe and Aaron Boone will call three games in five days.

Here’s a look at how ESPN covered baseball’s spring training.

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