Editor’s note: Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown airs at 7 p.m. ET from just outside of Dodger Stadium, leading into Sunday Night Baseball presented by Taco Bell – Pittsburgh Pirates at Los Angeles Dodgers – at 8 p.m. on ESPN, ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Deportes Radio and WatchESPN.
ESPN’s 25th Major League Baseball season has been must-see television for sports fans.
Whether it’s been celebrity appearances on Baseball Tonight (Charlie Sheen, Jon Hamm) or Dan Shulman and John Kruk singing “Take Me out to the Ball Game” on Sunday Night Baseball, the goal has remained the same – to entertain and to inform.
“We regularly ask ourselves, ‘Are we really doing enough for the viewer?’” said ESPN Vice President, Production Mike McQuade. “We need to keep pushing the idea that we can tell a better story while making fans more knowledgeable and bringing them closer to the game.”
This weekend, McQuade and game producer Tim Sullivan will do just that with Baseball Tonight’s Sunday Night Baseball “takeover.”
Karl Ravech and Baseball Hall of Famer and analyst Barry Larkin will be on site for Baseball Tonight: Sunday Night Countdown from just outside Dodger Stadium. After the show, Ravech and Larkin will head to the Sunday Night Baseball booth inside the stadium where they’ll lead a team of five additional Baseball Tonight commentators who collectively will call the action from various locations throughout Dodger Stadium.
The regular Sunday Night Baseball booth of Shulman and Kruk have the night off.
This Sunday’s complete team will consist of Ravech, Larkin (TV booth), Buster Olney (press box), Eric Wedge (behind home plate), Aaron Boone and Mark Mulder (dugout wells) and Doug Glanville (right field pavilion).
“We have seven different voices on the show and it will be an open, seven-way conversation,” said Sullivan. “We’ll have all of their microphones open and they will all play the role of analyst throughout the show, as opposed to having Ravech and Larkin in a traditional broadcast style. They’ll play the point guards.”
The producers view this as another step in ESPN’s expanded MLB coverage.
“We’re expanding our coverage,” Sullivan said. “We’re pushing K Zone, we’re moving guys around and we’re increasing our number of analysts. This is another way to cover the game of baseball.”
Said McQuade: “We’ve done this in small scale and we’ve done this as part of our golf coverage. Why not specialize this as best we can and see what happens?”
Both McQuade and Sullivan were adamant about ESPN’s remote operations team being an integral part of this week’s production.
“The level of commitment from our operations crew has been terrific,” Sullivan said. “The entire teams deserves a tip of the cap.”
“We wouldn’t do anything if we weren’t 100 percent confident in these guys,” McQuade said.