As MLB play readies to resume, ESPN producers share their first-half highlights

Jordany Valdespin celebrating grand slam 4/24 (Photo credit: Getty Images)
In April, New York Mets infielder Jordany Valdespin celebrated hitting a walk-off grand slam against the Los Angeles Dodgers during Wednesday Night Baseball. (Getty Images)

The second half of the 2013 Major League Baseball season on ESPN swings into high gear this weekend when the first-place Boston Red Sox host the New York Yankees on Sunday Night Baseball. Before baseball fans dive into post-All Star Game baseball, ESPN’s MLB producers reflected on their favorite moments on ESPN from the exciting first half.

One date that’s mentioned repeatedly: the June 30 edition Sunday Night Baseball when the Yankees visited the Orioles.

Tom Archer, coordinating producer, Sunday Night Baseball:
I think the images that stand out for me were from our Sunday Night Baseball game in Baltimore on June 30. It was more scene/sense of place-based than coverage-based. Our director, Doug Holmes, found two locations that gave you a sense of Camden Yards from unique and rarely seen perspectives. Our motto is: ‘If you can’t go to the game, we want to take your there.’ We strive to do that weekly with the combination of an aggressive audio approach and the unique visual perspectives that support both coverage of the game and the experience.

Mark Schuman, producer, Baseball Tonight:
From the studio side, I’d say Curt Schilling’s touch-screen moment on Baseball Tonight, April 26, when he pointed out that Detroit Tigers’ pitcher Justin Verlander’s blister could be seen in spring training during an interview they did together.

I also thought that when Baseball Tonight analyst Mark Mulder did his demo on the shoulder issues he had as a player — and then compared it to what [Philadelphia Phillies starter] Roy Halladay was going through — it was really strong analysis considering Halladay was on the disabled list two days later.

The game moment that stands out to me was the New York Mets/Los Angeles Dodgers on the April 24th Wednesday Night Baseball. It was [New York Mets infielder] Jordany Valdespin’s walk-off grand slam. Those don’t happen too often and to capture it on our air was cool.

Fernando Lopez, coordinating producer, Baseball Tonight:
Watching San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum throw 148 pitches to get his no-hitter [on July 13] was amazing. [Note: ESPN2 provided live look-in coverage]. From a guy who was on top of the world a couple of years ago, to falling down to become a mere mortal in the bullpen, to climbing back to get his no-hitter. That’s what baseball is all about.

Gregg Colli, producer, Baseball Tonight:
My favorite moment of this season so far was the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres brawl [on April 11]. We had just finished our “A Block” (first segment) and during the break, [Dodgers starter] Zack Greinke hit Carlos Quentin with the pitch and it all broke loose. When we came back onto the field, the benches were still emptied and players were still heated.

Adnan Virk and Baseball Tonight analysts Doug Glanville and Aaron Boone were our commentators that night and they did a great job “storytelling” while also watching it continue to unfold. We revisited it three or four more times and the challenge became ‘how do we present it differently?’

Having a no-hitter or breaking news develop while you’re on the air is the best rush for a producer. It brings your staff together and challenges everyone to contribute in ways you don’t normally have to on regular shows.

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