Behind the Mic: Pennsylvania State Baseball Championships

The Pennsylvania State Baseball Championships

On Friday, June 14, the RCNTV team broadcast 4 games for the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN). There was plenty of work that occurred prior to the games themselves in order to be prepared to do the best job possible. The crew and office staff took care of all the logistics to get 15 people to the site, set up, fed, and housed. This is our 13th year of doing these games so the process was pretty much set.

For me, however, the process was greatly disrupted this year. The semifinals were to be played on Monday, which was the case for the past 12 years. This year, however, 15 of the 16 Monday games were postponed until Tuesday. One full day of preparation was eliminated. Everything was moved back a day. After Tuesday’s games were played and the championship finalists were known, a conference call was held on Wednesday morning informing all the teams of their responsibilities to the games and to me. I needed information and I needed it fast (coaches, rosters, starting lineups, statistics, human interest stories on the players and teams, historical records for the programs, coaches’ histories, etc.) The normal process allows two days – one day for gathering the information (Tuesday) and one day for organizing the information (Wednesday). There was only Wednesday this year. It all got finished with the last school to respond getting with what I needed by 3:30 on Wednesday afternoon. Additional information kept trickling in from the schools throughout the evening.

Driving to Work
The crew left for Penn State, the site of the championship games, at 9:00 and I left at 11:00. They needed to get to Medlar Field at Lubrano Park to lay all the wire, set up all the cameras, run the audio lines, and prepare the graphics for the next day. I needed to get to the hotel to sift through all the information I had gathered and prepare packets for each game for my fellow announcers. Their work is very physical, mine is mental. We all met in the hotel lobby, went to dinner and discussed the elements and concerns for the next day. Crew call was 7:00 AM; announcers’ call was 8:00 AM.

Championship Friday
Everyone was at the field by 8:30; 2 hours prior to Game One. The crew tested all the equipment; the announcers talked to the teams and their coaches. Everyone took their positions in the stadium and in the press box by 10:00 AM. “Let the games begin”. I have attached a highlight video summarizing the baseball highlights of the day. Tim Kafer put the piece together; and the musical background is from “The Greatest Game in the World” by Fran Kovalski.

There are 664 high school baseball teams in Pennsylvania; 39 District Champions; and just 4 State Champions. Congratulations to the winners!

As for our gang – We came on the air at 10:30 AM and said, “Good night, everybody” at 10:10 PM – 11 hours and 40 minutes later. In between, there were 4 games, 30 innings, with the final game of the day (naturally) going two extra innings to decide a champion. All of us believe we “hit a wall” sometime during Game Three, persevered, and got through it. It seems to happen every year. I had plenty of time to ponder the day with the 3 ½ hour ride home that followed and there are always the same two thoughts, “Job well done” and “I’m glad that’s over”.

Behind the Mic: Valedictorian, Salutatorian, and MVP’s

Valedictorian, Salutatorian, and MVP’s

This past week, I read that the Parkland School District decided to no longer award the distinction of class valedictorian or salutatorian. The rule was instituted in 2009 for the class of 2013. They are not the only local schools to do this. Moravian Academy and Emmaus High School also do not list the top two students. Instead, they would list all of the students who had achieved honors as a whole. This is easy to do, since the honorees are based on grade point averages, and perhaps, other criteria. It is not subjective. I am sure a computer just simply spits out the names. In other words, the schools (computers) choose their All-Stars, but not their MVP’s.

This academic direction is an interesting path for those of us who are, often, a part of choosing athletic all-star teams and most valuable players. And our choices are much more difficult – we do not have grade point averages or computers to make the decisions for us. We have statistics, but we all know they can lie. I have usually been able to take a list of athletes and choose an all-star team from that list. Sure, if you need to select 10, the difference between #9, #10, and #11 (who would be left out) is not always extremely clear. Then, to select an MVP from the 10 may be even more difficult, more subjective, and simply unfair. A local paper is currently attempting to select an Athlete of the Year (one male and one female) and offered up their first two nominees this week – a football player and wrestler (male); a field hockey and softball player (female). The paper will offer 5 choices for each gender and voters will choose the winners. This would seem to diametrically oppose the academic philosophy of the schools mentioned above.

The Question
So the question I pose to you – who is right? Should we honor the absolute best in academics and in athletics or is it good enough for each school just to name their All-Stars and eliminate their MVP’s? Should we get away from Top Ten lists (unless you’re a David Letterman fan) and let high schools, colleges, and employers decide, based on their criteria, who they want?

Let me know your thoughts before the fall – I have an All-Star football ballot to fill out and the last line asks me to list my choice for an MVP!