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TV, radio announcers to call road games via TV monitors back home

Sportscaster Mel Allen

Scorecard and player roster are laid out before Mel Allen as he broadcasts a game over WPIX from booth in Yankee Stadium. Allen is the man who came to broadcast and stayed to cheer. He does both so expertly, he has become the best paid sports announcer in the business and a one-man Yankee knothole gang. He’s not afraid to live in a style befitting his $150,000-a-year income and he readily admits to being a Yankee fan. Allen’s coverage of the Yankees’ games at home and away draws its most acid criticism from the anti-Yankee fringe, better known as Knock-Down-the-Favorite-Club. In Boston, Red Sox adherents circulated a petition to ban Mel from the air. It was their beef that he sounded too jubilant describing Yankee victories. At that time, the Yanks were having a grand old time at the Sox’ expense and the effervescence of Allen’s voice was more than these Boston fans could take. “Sure, I’m partisan,” explains Mel, “but I’m certainly not prejudiced. I always make a point of giving other teams their due. When a player on an opposing team makes a sensational play, I call it that way.” Whatever his feelings, Mel manages to inject enough accuracy and mellifluous tone into his narration to have won practically every award( Photo By: David McLane/NY Daily News via Getty Images)

NY Daily News via Getty Images

Bruce Levine of tweeted this morning that all major league broadcasters -- TV and radio -- have been told that they will be calling all 2020 road games from local broadcast studios or the home ballpark via a monitor as opposed to traveling with the team.

I have two thoughts on this.

First: it’ll probably be fine. There may be some lower energy because a crowd and live action pumps up broadcasters just as much as it does players, but I think the pros will adjust. We’ve seen this in the Olympics and it has worked. ESPN is doing it with KBO games right now. It’s doable.

Theres’s also a risk, I think, that the lack of immediacy on the part of the broadcasters could potentially lend itself to more of a talk show vibe and less attention to the game at hand. Still, I think the better broadcasters will stay on task and good producers will help even the ones most tempted to gab guard against doing so. They’re not ESPN broadcasters, after all. Almost all local broadcasters do a good job of focusing on the game, not chatting for chatting’s sake.

Second: I suspect that a good number of networks will stick to the “call the game from home” model beyond 2020 if it proves to be anything other than a disaster. It’s expensive to broadcast games from on-site, and if they can save the money on that I bet they’d like to. No one would ever be willing to be a first mover on that kind of thing for fear of appearing cheap, but if everyone is forced to do it everyone will be looking very hard at the feasibility of doing it long term.

Anyway, this season -- if there’s a season -- road games are gonna feel a bit different at first.

Follow @craigcalcaterra