Behind the Mic: There’s No Clock in Baseball

I have heard many times from baseball fans that the reason they love the game is that “there is no clock in baseball”. That has never been more evident to me than this past Friday when RCN-TV was producing for the 14th consecutive year the PIAA Baseball Championships for the Pennsylvania Cable Network (PCN). The games are played at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park in University Park. Yes, the same location where Penn State fans enjoy watching the Nittany Lions play football at nearby Beaver Stadium. So, for me and the crew, it is a three hour ride on Thursday to the motel so that we can prepare for the four-game marathon on Friday. We discovered the next day that “marathon” was not a strong enough description of the day.

Friday begins with a RCN team breakfast at the hotel. Up at 7:00, meet at 7:30 AM. Everyone is to be ready to head to the venue at 8:00 AM. Game One is to begin at 10:30. The crew worked meticulously the day before to have everything ready to go when they arrive. They must confirm that everything is working Friday morning. I organized all the materials that I had gathered during the week from the coaches on Thursday in the motel and gave packets of that information to my fellow announcers to go over prior to the games. Upon arrival at the ballpark, our job is to meet with the coaches of the first game, confirm lineups and pronunciations, and become familiar with their teams. All is normal at this point and we are ready for Game One. We all agree that it is imperative that this game moves along in normal fashion to help the time frame for the rest of the day. That did not happen. Game one featured eight hit batsmen and five walks. Throw in only two “1-2-3” half innings and the first game and post-game festivities ended at 1:20 PM.

Game Two was scheduled to start at 1:00 PM! It was pushed back to 2:00. This game featured the big schools – labeled as the AAAA schools and usually featured the most talent. We needed a quick game from these guys. That was not to be. This game went extra innings! It took them eight full innings to decide a winner. It concluded at 5:00 PM. Game three was supposed to start at 3:30 PM. Are you beginning to get the picture?

The 3:30 game was announced that it would begin at 6:00 PM. Twenty minutes later, the stadium personnel decided that a rain storm was on the way. They would cover the field with a tarp and delay the start of the next game. The delay was approximately one hour and game three began at 7:00 PM. We could only pray that this one would have no delay again, just cruise along and we could get to Game Four as quickly as possible. Not a chance! Game Three went two extra innings and was won in the bottom of the ninth on an error. I think the whole crew wanted to hug the kid who did not catch the ball!! That just wouldn’t be right!

The 6:00 game, it was announced would start at 9:40 PM – over 3 ½ hours later than scheduled. Those two teams had been at the ballpark since mid-afternoon. This one moved along rather nicely, took only seven innings and the final medal ceremony and the awarding of the trophies ended at midnight. We just finished on the same day we started!

So, you say, you only worked a 16-hour day. No. No!!! The crew now had to pack up all the wires and the equipment that it takes to do this event. Imagine the amount of wire to run cameras to first base, third base, up high behind home plate, down low on the field for the ceremonies, and way, way out into center field. Imagine carrying very, very heavy cameras from those locations. Another hour or more for sure.

And me? Well, I always figure the games will end at 9:00 PM so I do not make arrangements to stay another night like the crew does. I always just jump in the car and drive home. Which I did. The 185-mile drive took another three hours. I finally pulled into my garage at 3:00 AM Saturday morning. My day ended after 19 hours!!

So, at least for a couple of months, please don’t tell me you love baseball because “there is no clock”. I may just punch you in the mouth and, after hearing my story, I don’t think any judge would convict me of assault.

Check out some of the game highlights below:

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)
No musings this week. I’m catching up on my sleep!