It once came up in conversation with my friend Tom Boman that I was in charge of making dinner for my family that night. He said, “Oh, what are you making?” I replied, “Probably spaghetti. It’s usually that or some variation of chicken and rice.” He then offered a tip. “Add a little bit of sugar in the sauce,” he suggested.
I hadn’t thought of that. I added the sugar and the sauce was wonderful.
Here are seven “sugar in the sauce” tips for baseball broadcasters — things you maybe haven’t thought of yet.
1. Be a storyteller
There are some fabulous books to help you. The Baseball Thesaurus, by Jesse Goldberg-Strassler is a great one. Baseball Legends and Lore by David Cataneo is another. Read those for starters. The Baseball Bible by Dan Schlossburg and Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader Takes a Swing at Baseball are good ones. You’ll get all kinds of great background stories you can pepper throughout your broadcasts over the course of a season.
Of course you’ll also use stories you come across on your own about things you’ve witnessed and experienced. Regardless of where you get your stories, be a storyteller.
2. Hang around the batting cage
You’ll get countless nuggets you can use on the air. You can’t use everything you learn around the batting cage, but you’ll get a lot of stuff you can. Be sure to write down what you learn.
3. Reduce your use of the phrase “swung on”
This is a debatable point. Some guys insist it’s mandatory to say, “swung on.” Others believe it’s unnecessary. I’m among the latter. Instead of, “Here comes the 2-1 fastball. Swung on, lined to left field,” I can say, “Here comes the 2-1 fastball. Lined to left field.” Swung on is unnecessary. At least reduce your use of it.
4. Don’t scream
Many broadcasters confuse screaming with being energetic. You don’t need to scream. Yes, increase your excitement and energy at important moments, but don’t scream. Keep the VU meter out of the red.
5. Be quiet
Baseball is a leisurely sport. You don’t have to fill every moment with commentary, especially if you’re working alone. Your listener’s ears will appreciate occasional respites from the sound of a single voice for three hours.
6. Build report with your analyst
Get to know them off the air. Go to coffee or lunch, hang out so that comradery and simpatico is evident on the air.
7. Record your broadcast onsite
Especially do this if yours is an Internet broadcast. Don’t rely on somebody at the station. Don’t accept the tinny sound that some archived broadcasts can have. Record it on-site from your mixer so you will have great sounding audio for your demo.
Hopefully “sugar in the sauce” details will help make your baseball play-by-play, and your spaghetti sauce, great.