Major League Baseball has taken its fair share of criticism for changes trying to get younger fans interested in the game, but there has been one this season that has generated rave reviews.
MLB has expanded letting players being mic’d up and interviewed during games after doing it on a limited basis from 2017-20. It has become a weekly occurrence on ESPN’s “Sunday Night Baseball” and has produced some fun moments.
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised that it has gathered and maintained momentum, because it’s not the first time we’ve asked for and had collaboration,” ESPN vice president of production Phil Orlins said. “So to see it get rolling this year, along with a tangible enthusiasm from players to be a part of it has been a pleasant breakthrough.”
Fox first did the in-game interviews with players during the 2017 All-Star Game in Miami. ESPN followed in 2018-19 in spring training before having it in a limited capacity during the shortened 2020 regular season.
It was put on hold last year due to frayed relations with the MLB Players Association. But now that there is labor peace again, mic’d up is back with ESPN seeing most of the benefits so far.
ESPN analyst David Cone said having players mic’d up also gives them a chance to display their personalities and increase the marketing of the game.
“Their personalities need to be shown more like other sports, and this is the best opportunity,” he said. “It’s great that the opportunity is there and it has been embraced. Every one of the players has presented a side of their personality that otherwise wouldn’t have been seen.”
Players have also shown that they can continue to play at a high level with the earpiece and mic on. The only comparison to what MLB and ESPN are doing is having NASCAR drivers interviewed during races,…