The Use of Analytics in Broadcast Media panel at the 2019 SABR Analytics Conference, presented by MLB and KinaTrax, focused on the NL Wild Card Game’s “Nerdcast” and if it can be used as a template for baseball broadcasts in the future.
The panel on March 10, 2019, included ESPN analyst and former major-leaguer Eduardo Perez and Mike Petriello, stats analyst for Major League Baseball. It was moderated by Mike Ferrin, Arizona Diamondbacks broadcaster and MLB Network Radio host.
- Audio: Listen to highlights from the Use of Analytics in Broadcast Media panel at the 2019 SABR Analytics Conference (MP3; 55:30)
Here are some highlights:
ON THE BEHIND-THE-SCENES DEVELOPMENT OF THE ‘NERDCAST’
- Perez: “[ESPN] is always looking to challenge the audience without overwhelming them. The ‘old-timers’ can be very reluctant as to how the game is evolving. … We were able to still tell the story of the game without ignoring the game itself. … We were not afraid to challenge each other during the broadcast. … I thought the most compelling graphic of all was the outfield positioning graphic which told us the strengths and weaknesses of the outfielders. It convinced me that we were taking the maiden voyage [into the future] …”
- Petriello: “The Home Run Derby was fun, but that was basically just ‘baseball themed entertainment.’ When we were approached about doing the Wild Card Game in September, we had like one phone call where we planned it and spent a few weeks preparing for potentially five different teams in that wild card game. … We were lucky that [play-by-play announcer Jason Benetti, Eduardo Perez, and I] got along so well.”
ON THE REACTION TO THE BROADCAST FROM BASEBALL FIGURES
- Perez: “There was such a good balance for that game that the reaction was mostly positive. … What I always try to tell the former players is that, if you look at front offices back in the day, it was a ‘good old boys’ club of former players. Those clubs have opened those doors to people who have never played professional baseball. … It’s only making the game more competitive and better. A lot of ‘purists’ try to keep the game within their scope, but it’s clear what direction the game is heading.”
ON WHAT THE BROADCASTERS WANTED TO DO BETTER
- Petriello: “Is it a cop-out to say that I really liked the way it went? (laughs) For the most part, it was really well-received. The tough thing is that this was a playoff game that really, really matters. We had to make [our broadcast] separate from the traditional broadcast without alienating fans. … I’d really like to include more graphics for the next time we do this.”
- Perez: “Normally, the reception on Twitter is really nasty. That night, it was almost entirely positive, even from casual fans. That’s something we’re proud of.”
ON HOW THE GAME CONTINUES TO EVOLVE
- Petriello: “This year in spring training, I started a Twitter thread where I pointed out the teams that were using technology like Rapsodo. I was getting responses from high school and college coaches who were saying things like, ‘Yeah, we’ve been doing this for three years! Great to see the pros finally catching up.’”
For more coverage of the 2019 SABR Analytics Conference, visit SABR.org/analytics.
Originally published: March 13, 2019. Last Updated: July 27, 2020.