Mic’d up during ESPN Sunday night games draws rave reviews

Jun 11, 2022, 1:34 AM | Updated: Jun 14, 2022, 9:45 am

New York Mets' Francisco Lindor rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the Seattle Marin...

New York Mets' Francisco Lindor rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the Seattle Mariners during the first inning of a baseball game Sunday, May 15, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)

(AP Photo/Noah K. Murray)

Major League Baseball has taken its fair share of criticism for changes trying to get younger fans interested in the game, but there has been one this season that has generated rave reviews.

MLB has expanded letting players being mic’d up and interviewed during games after doing it on a limited basis from 2017-20. It has become a weekly occurrence on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” and has produced some fun moments.

“I’ve been pleasantly surprised that it has gathered and maintained momentum, because it’s not the first time we’ve asked for and had collaboration,” ESPN vice president of production Phil Orlins said. “So to see it get rolling this year, along with a tangible enthusiasm from players to be a part of it has been a pleasant breakthrough.”

Fox first did the in-game interviews with players during the 2017 All-Star Game in Miami. ESPN followed in 2018-19 in spring training before having it in a limited capacity during the shortened 2020 regular season.

It was put on hold last year due to frayed relations with the MLB Players Association. But now that there is labor peace again, mic’d up is back with ESPN seeing most of the benefits so far.

ESPN analyst David Cone said having players mic’d up also gives them a chance to display their personalities and increase the marketing of the game.

“Their personalities need to be shown more like other sports, and this is the best opportunity,” he said. “It’s great that the opportunity is there and it has been embraced. Every one of the players has presented a side of their personality that otherwise wouldn’t have been seen.”

Players have also shown that they can continue to play at a high level with the earpiece and mic on. The only comparison to what MLB and ESPN are doing is having NASCAR drivers interviewed during races, but that is occurring during caution periods and not when they are going wheel to wheel for the lead.

“We don’t know what that player is going to say or what the outcome is. We’ve had situations where Francisco Lindor gets a groundball, and he was scared to death that he was going to boot it while Max Scherzer was on the mound, and he’s mic’d up with us. And then the relief of the human side of it because he was happy he made the play,” ESPN analyst Eduardo Perez said.

Besides Lindor discussing the intensity of New York Mets teammate Scherzer on the mound, Cincinnati’s Joey Votto did some impromptu play-by-play from first base during the opening night game against Atlanta.

Boston outfielder Kiké Hernandez discussed whether he was going to throw home or to second base if he had a ball hit to him. When the Yankees’ Anthony Rizzo had a base hit to center, fans could hear Hernandez coming up on the ball and then making a full-bodied throw home.

Lindor, who was mic’d up during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies on May 1, said there wasn’t much of an adjustment compared to what he normally does during a game.

“I do talking during the games anyway so it’s not something different,” he said. “The fans get to hear a little bit of interaction and how I am processing the game and that’s always fun for the fans.”

Three-time AL MVP Mike Trout is slated to be this week’s mic’d up player when the Los Angeles Angels host the Mets.

The only positions that haven’t done it yet are pitcher and catcher. ESPN announcer Karl Ravech also noted that it might also been interesting to have an umpire do it one week.

“I think the unknown of any individual is what makes this whole thing great,” he said. “We believe we know certain personalities and they’re going to be great. We believe we know certain personalities who probably aren’t conducive to it or turn out to be unbelievable at this kind of byplay.

“We learned a lot about Bryce Harper when was a DH. He gave us so much insight from a star player that you wouldn’t otherwise get. And yet Harper, for the most part is probably probably considered kind of a quiet guy. We got so much out of him because we’re talking about baseball, you know, his comfort zone.”

Mic’d up is likely to expand to other broadcasts as well. MLB chief revenue officer Noah Garden said Fox will do it during next month’s All-Star Game in Los Angeles while the opportunities are there as well for Peacock’s Sunday afternoon games and Apple TV+’s coverage on Friday nights.

“We’ve always been working with our media partners to innovate our broadcasts and I think it is important for us to continue that. These have gone well and you continue to push forward,” he said.


More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Ex-Packer Guion gets 1 year for domestic violence assault

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Former Green Bay Packers defensive tackle Letroy Guion was sentenced to one year in jail after pleading no contest in a domestic violence assault at his home last fall. Brown County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Walsh also ordered Guion on Tuesday to serve three years’ probation and complete a domestic […]

1 year ago

Joe Jarzynka...

Associated Press

Durant eager for Suns debut vs. Hornets after knee injury

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kevin Durant has been through quite a bit during his 15-year NBA career — but joining a new team midway through the season is a new one for the 13-time All-Star. The 34-year-old Durant doesn’t seem all that worried. Durant makes his highly anticipated Phoenix Suns debut on Wednesday night against […]

1 year ago

FILE - Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores stands on the sideline during the second half of an N...

Associated Press

Judge: NFL coach can press discrimination claims in court

NEW YORK (AP) — NFL Coach Brian Flores can pursue some of his discrimination claims against the league and its teams in court rather than through arbitration, a judge ruled Wednesday. The written decision by Judge Valerie Caproni in Manhattan was issued months after lawyers for the league tried to get the lawsuit moved to […]

1 year ago

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock cools off in the first period during an NHL hockey game ...

Associated Press

Kane trade reinforces hard reality of Blackhawks rebuild

CHICAGO (AP) — After days of speculation, the harsh reality of the Chicago Blackhawks’ situation was reinforced by one move in a flurry of transactions ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Showtime is over, at least in Chicago, and a seemingly bright future is, well, way off in the distance. The reverberations of Chicago’s decision […]

1 year ago

FILE -  Yves Jean-Bart, president of the Haitian Football Federation, wearing a protective face mas...

Associated Press

Disgraced ex-Haitian soccer president announces he’s back

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Haiti’s former soccer federation president whose lifetime ban from sport over sexual abuse allegations was overturned last month announced Wednesday that he is reclaiming his position. Yves Jean-Bart’s defiant announcement could lead to a standoff with FIFA, which already has appointed an emergency management committee to lead the Haitian Football Association […]

1 year ago

FILE - Green Bay Packers' Aaron Rodgers walks off the field after an NFL football game against the ...

Associated Press

Rodgers says decision on future will come ‘soon enough’

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Rodgers says he will make a decision on his future “soon enough” as the four-time MVP quarterback ponders whether to play next season and if his future remains with the Green Bay Packers. Rodgers, 39, discussed his future while speaking on an episode of the “Aubrey Marcus Podcast” that […]

1 year ago

Mic’d up during ESPN Sunday night games draws rave reviews