When baseball takes to its biggest international stage, players from around the globe leave it all on the field to represent their home countries and territories.
It also means that a lot of ESPN employees give it their all to ensure fans around the globe get the best World Baseball Classic coverage across ESPN platforms.
With 39 games being produced live over 20 days for ESPN Deportes’ Spanish-language telecasts from Taiwan to Miami and five other global locations, it has meant crazy hours and a lot of caffeine for many.
Sunday in San Francisco’s AT&T Park, Puerto Rico defeated Japan 3-1 to advance to the Tuesday night championship game in the same venue (8 p.m. ET, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Deportes Radio). Puerto Rico will take on the winner of tonight’s Netherlands versus the Dominican Republic semifinal (9 p.m. EDT ESPN Deportes, ESPN Deportes Radio).
Coordinating Producer Jo Allevato and Associate Producer Leonte Landino explain how it all comes together.
What differentiates the WBC and ESPN’s coverage of it from other baseball competitions?
JA: WBC is a tournament reflecting country pride. A mix of major league players, minor league players and those from other leagues abroad all have the opportunity to compete. It’s exciting and more competitive because the rules are a bit different and the tournament is played in two rounds: round robin and double elimination. It’s just a lot of fun to watch players from the majors don their country’s jerseys and play alongside rival teammates.
LL: Our coverage goes beyond the simple game action, or what we call, the “game-cut.” We use our rich baseball resources to develop storylines of different players and teams with discussions, debates and perspectives around international baseball. We also cover international baseball all year long with Caribbean Winter Leagues, the Caribbean Series and our unique MLB perspective on international players and impact.
What makes ESPN Deportes’ telecasts unique?
JA: It begins with our announcers. Our broadcast teams have the respect of Hispanic fans. [ESPN Deportes play-by-play commentator] Ernesto Jerez is the voice of baseball for so many Spanish-speaking countries such as the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Puerto Rico. Add respected journalist Luis Alfredo Alvarez, former player/manager Ozzie Guillen and reporter Pedro Gomez from the field to the mix and it is the Hispanic baseball “dream team.” ESPN and baseball have had a long-standing relationship for quality productions. Partnering up with MLB has allowed us to produce high quality games.
LL: Having the best of both worlds is a key factor. We can use resources from our English-language baseball coverage so we can adapt and produce our own content as well, which makes us more complete overall. Also, the ability that we have to cover and produce baseball all year round provides us with a unique perspective that sets up apart.
What are some of the advantages and challenges to producing coverage of an event that spans the globe?
JA: Managing sleep and having the staff as rested as possible is the challenge. The advantage is seeing, perhaps for the first time, the next generation of players.
LL: The advantage is having a whole perspective on the tournament. The biggest challenges are the schedule of games in Asian countries and the time difference. With the amount of games going on, our crew has only slept for a few hours per day for the past two weeks, but they are all into it and they are very enthusiastic in trying to provide the best content for our productions.