Change Coming to TBS as Network Becomes Fixture of Postseason
What won't have such an odd feel is the network broadcasting much of the playoffs. TBS is entering its fourth season -- has it really been that many? -- as one of the main carriers of the Major League Baseball postseason. (Its exclusive coverage of the Division Series begins on Oct. 6, followed by the American League Championship Series, which kicks off on Oct. 15.)
The new kids on the block aren't so new anymore, and, in an interview with FanHouse, several members of their broadcast team talked about becoming a fixture for baseball fans in October.
"Last year, when I had Eck (Dennis Eckersley) and Ernie (Johnson) and Boomer (David Wells), there was such a comfort level," Cal Ripken, a studio analyst, said. "I thought that our chemistry, and our opinions, were diverse enough and worked really good.
"To me, it's like getting used to your surroundings when you first come to the big leagues. ... I love watching the games -- every single pitch -- and analyzing them, and this is a wonderful group of guys to be working with."
As Ripken alluded to, there is a change coming to TBS' coverage this year. Johnson, the in-studio host during the previous three postseasons, will enter the booth as part of the network's lead broadcast team, replacing former play-by-play man Chip Caray. He'll work alongside analysts Ron Darling and John Smoltz.
"I'm just very lucky that I've stolen Ernie from them and can take him on the road," Darling, a pitcher for 13 years in the major leagues, said. "Ernie Johnson comes from the gene pool of great announcers, and he's as smooth as smooth, and to listen to John Smoltz at times is interesting. I get to do these games that allow John to talk about pitching, and I get to do all the other stuff, which is really fun for me."
The void Johnson leaves in the studio might be a concern to some, but not the TBS crew.
"We like being around each other," Ripken said. "I think this year we're gonna miss Ernie being out of the studio, but I think we'll be OK because the rest of us have been together."
Among that rest is Wells, who added: "We're gonna joke around behind camera, but when the camera's on, we're gonna talk serious, and we'll throw a few little jokes out there to keep it loose."
Serious, indeed. The TBS crew is grasping just how important their coverage can be to baseball fans.
"It's really important that we know our roles," Darling said. "We're really custodians of these great athletes and great teams that are gonna be chronicled forever and be on DVD forever, so we do feel a responsibility, with Turner doing these games, that we're part of it.
"We're part of history every year."