Forward/Rewind: MLB/Tennis

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Jamie Reynolds, Vice President, Event Production

#Hashtag of the year for 2012:
#ServingUpDrama. Tennis provided a compelling 2012, starting with Victoria Azarenka serving notice at the Australian Open that she is among the elite with her first major title. We also witnessed the longest championship match in Grand Slam history (Novak Djokovic over Rafael Nadal in nearly six hours). At the French Open, Maria Sharapova completed a career Grand Slam, and at Wimbledon, we witnessed arguably the biggest upset in history and saw an unknown take out a legend (Lukas Rosol over Nadal in the second round).

Jamie Reynolds
Jamie Reynolds

Serena Williams enjoyed a golden summer winning both Wimbledon and the US Open plus Olympic Gold, while Roger Federer returned to No. 1 with a victory in London. At the US Open, Andy Murray’s quest for a major was fulfilled and the retirements of Kim Clijsters and Andy Roddick at the US Open tugged on emotional heartstrings.

#Hashtag of the year for 2013:
#WhoWillRule? In 2012, the Big Four (Nadal, Djokivic, Murray and Roger Federer) ruled the men’s game more than ever with each taking one major. Yet Nadal hasn’t played since June and Federer is 31. The question becomes: Who is ready to break through?

On the woman’s side, a trio of greats pulled away from the pack — Serena Williams, Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka. But a younger group emerged eager to crash the party — French Open finalist Sara Errani, Wimbledon finalist Agnieszka Radwanska, and Angelique Kerber, whose rise in the rankings from No. 32 a year ago to No. 5 today was punctuated by 14 wins at the majors.

A big prediction for your property in 2013:
Our goal is to advance and enhance the franchise elements that have defined ESPN Tennis. Our theme, “Discovery and Access,” takes fans behind the “velvet ropes” to experience the stars at home, at practice or just living on the road. We work with the rightsholders to gain access to places the fans can’t get to.

Through the highly-stylized bumps or teases or “Behind-the-Scenes” elements produced by our Feature Unit, we have terrific “accents” to lace through the hundreds of hours of Slam coverage. Presenting the athletes honestly and fairly, we’ve earned their respect. They trust our team, they recognize our producers and shooters, and we are discovering access gets better with each event. We then use it to create equity across all our ESPN platforms, including social media.

A prediction? Perhaps it’s more of a hope: that after six nominations in the last four years, the tennis family finally earns the Gold and wins a Sports Emmy.–By Dave Nagle[/box]


Editor’s Note: With this multi-week series — the Front Row Forward/Rewind, 2013/2012 — ESPN’s Communications Department takes the pulse of content executives throughout ESPN for their views on what’s ahead across ESPN for 2013 and some of what transpired in 2012. The snapshots provide a look at where ESPN has been, where it’s going and how it plans on getting there.


Mike McQuade, Vice President, Production

Best off camera moment:
The best off camera moments to me always involve humor and things that are unexpected. I remember how Terry Francona was unable to put his headset on properly on Sunday Night Baseball telecasts. Also, the second day we were working with Terry, he ran out of gas driving to the stadium during Spring Training and he and Dan Shulman had to push the car off of the interstate. In terms of the Monday Night Baseball team, Rick Sutcliffe was looking at the players on Manny Acta’s Washington Nationals team and said “Boy, no wonder he couldn’t win with the Nationals.” Tim Kurkjian then said, “Well, he had nothing to work with — there were no Major Leaguers on that team.” Then you hear Aaron Boone say, “Hello, I’m in the room.” Aaron was on the team.

Mike McQuade
Mike McQuade

Favorite segment or interview:
My favorite segment on the game side was when Los Angeles Dodgers’ Scott Van Slyke hit the go ahead three-run home run against the St. Louis Cardinals in the seventh inning on Sunday Night Baseball May 20, 2012. As far as Baseball Tonight, it had to be our “Baseball Tonight at the World Series” postgame show for Game 2. I thought our analysts were especially poignant about how the [Detroit] Tigers needed to score runs and get back into the series. Thought it was one of our best shows. In terms of interviews, it has to be “Kurkjianing”: Every time someone did an impression of Tim last season.

#Hashtag of the year for 2013:
#OwnTheMoment. It’s “own the moment” because our job is to identify and own a moment in a game. A baseball game is a three-hour plus endeavor and there are moments in games that we have to recognize, sometimes to help the viewer and sometimes to educate the viewer. Other times, the moment is fairly obvious. To “own the moment” you have to know when to get out of the way, break down what happened, explain why it happened and determine what’s going to happen next. Same goes for Baseball Tonight. You have to know what the big moments were from the night in baseball and properly dissect them.

New Year’s resolution for ESPN’s MLB unit:
To know our strengths and play to our strengths, which are our reporters, our analysts and our access. We don’t have to over-produce.

What makes your group a family:
There are two big reasons why we are a family. One reason is the sheer amount of time we spend together. We’re spending eight months together on the studio side and seven months together on the game side. I also think what makes us a family is sharing the common bond of baseball. In this day and age of football first, and America’s love for football, our group is bonded by the love and passion we have for baseball. I think that’s a rallying cry. The passion for baseball here is not dwindling.

Forward/Rewind logo by Samantha Baron