MINNEAPOLIS – There are a lot of things to look forward to in the Gillette Home Run Derby (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET) tonight – monster home runs, for starters, from sluggers like Giancarlo Stanton, Jose Bautista, Troy Tulowitzki, Yasiel Puig and more. In addition to the mammoth shots soaring across Target Field, viewers will enjoy a brand new format to the contest, several unique new production enhancements and a creative new open with recording artist Aloe Blacc.
Front Row caught up with Derby producer Scott Matthews to review the changes and new additions.
How does the new Derby format affect your production?
Since these are significant changes, it’s important from a production standpoint to educate and remind viewers of the new format and what’s at stake during the event. Essentially, we have two different league competitions until the championship matchup. We’ll discuss the format prior to first pitch and have drop-in graphic reminders in addition to verbal reminders during every segment. Our scoreboard will aggressively display the standings by league in the first round and update viewers on how many homers a hitter needs to advance or earn a bye. We also have a bracket designed by our Creative Services team that we’ll frequently reference.
What are some of the new elements and enhancements planned for this year’s Derby telecast?
Our virtual home run icons have been a game-changer for our coverage since they debuted in 2011. This year, our Emerging Technologies team will take that another step further by giving us the ability to display multiple icons to recap a hitter’s previous round, what a hitter has done in the event to that point, or even what all hitters have done in the competition.
It’s a strong visual to help tell the story of the competition and a significant enhancement of our signature coverage element. Emerging Technologies has also developed another tool – we’ll have a replay effect that will superimpose images of a hitter’s swing at the point of contact from each of a hitter’s home runs together. It will provide viewers with a look at the hitter’s “wheelhouse” and help us to document the strategy between pitcher and hitter.
What should we expect in the telecast open?
Everybody is a kid again on Home Run Derby Night – the participants, All-Stars and viewers – and the tease Aimee Stokes (ESPN, post producer) has produced captures that feeling. Chris Berman’s memories from almost three decades of calling the Derby provide much of the narrative. Chris isn’t reading a script – he’s reminiscing about Derby moments that he’ll never forget. [ESPN Music Director] Kevin Wilson worked with recording artist Aloe Blacc to provide a great cover of “Come Fly With Me” that brings it all together, setting the stage for a special summer evening for baseball fans.
How will Minneapolis be featured during the Derby telecast?
The city and ballpark as well as the host franchise are always important to our coverage. During the transition from Baseball Tonight (7 p.m., ESPN) to the Derby we’ll recognize the Minnesota Twins’ home run history with an element that will be played in the stadium as well as on air. Target Field is downtown and the city skyline provides a terrific backdrop for Derby night. With 25 cameras, including roving handhelds, viewers should get a strong sense of what it’s like to be in the ballpark.
By Kristen Hudak
Some of what you might have missed from around ESPN this weekend:
1. Praise for ESPN’s coverage of FIFA World Cup
Before the World Cup, Jed Drake of ESPN told me he'd told David Hill of Fox he'd make South Africa look like a warmup act. I believe he has.
— Steve Lepore (@stevelepore) July 13, 2014
ESPN's escalating stewardship of the world's game has been exemplary. Thank you.
— Rob Stone (@RobStoneONFOX) July 13, 2014
Mostly, I'll miss Bob Ley's panic room.
— Erik Malinowski (@erikmal) July 13, 2014
Congratulations to Germany — and congratulations also to ESPN. They have put on a great show.
— Jamie Trecker (@JamieTreckerFOX) July 13, 2014
2. LeBron James’ journey
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) July 13, 2014
"The LeBron letter not only completely erases the Decision, but it eliminates the Gilbert letter." @ESPN_Colin
— Herd w/Colin Cowherd (@TheHerd) July 11, 2014
3. Anticipating The ESPYS
— Stuart Scott (@StuartScott) July 14, 2014
— Lolo Jones (@lolojones) July 11, 2014
4. Lefty preps for The Open Championship this week on ESPN
VIDEO: Phil Mickelson practices his off the bunker backwards golf shot to get ready for The Open Championship. » http://t.co/xR2PJXb2mp
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 10, 2014
5. 31 days until debut of SEC Network
— marcus spears (@mspear96) July 10, 2014
— Jeremy Toney (@infamous04) July 14, 2014
— Elliot Mabe (@elliotmabe9) July 11, 2014
Just grabbed my NYT from driveway….. And Voila! pic.twitter.com/ahVmj7L8Z3
— Hannah Storm (@HannahStormESPN) July 12, 2014
Bill Hofheimer and David Scott contributed to this post