World Baseball Classic underway

Major League Baseball tonight kicks off the World Baseball Classic, a 36-game festival of international play that will give MLB.com a new revenue source, ESPN a chance to experiment with new baseball production techniques, and fans from around the world a reason to root for home teams of a sort never seen before.

MLB.com, for example, will let fans watch or listen to every game either live or on-demand. Video will be available for every game up to the semi-finals and finals from PETCO Park in San Diego. Those games will have live audio coverage.

MLB.com is also treating it as a value add, with regular season subscribers getting free access. Those who don t subscribe to the MLB.com service can subscribe for $9.95.

In addition, Bob DuPuy, president and COO of Major League Baseball, is providing baseball fans around the world with a first person account of his experiences at the first-ever World Baseball Classic.

DuPuy, currently attending the first round games in Tokyo, Japan, has agreed to blog throughout the World Baseball Classic as he travels to the various tournament venues, sharing his thoughts and observations.

And ESPN has confirmed that MLB has given it permission to give the telecasts more depth (and personality) than the typical MLB broadcast. ESPN will rely on a number of truck vendors, depending on where the game is taking place.
Three of the six U.S. venues are Major League Baseball
stadiums: Petco Park in San Diego (which will hold the semi-finals and
finals), Angel Stadium of Anaheim, and Chase Park in Phoenix. The other venues, Disney s Wide World of Sports in Orlando, FL, Hiram
Bithorn Stadium in Puerto Rico, and Scottsdale Stadium in Arizona don t
have the normal high camera positions so expect coverage to be more
akin to a spring training broadcast.

It ll be standard in the sense that we ll have our normal game coverage plans in place, says Tim Scanlan, ESPN s senior coordinating producer, baseball. But we hope to push some of our access to bring viewers a little closer to the event.

Expect ESPN to bring handheld cameras into and around the dugouts so they can interview players coming off the field after great defensive plays or follow batters as they walk up to plate. ESPN is will be able to have a camera head out to the mound during pitcher conferences.

The goal would be to use RF technology, says Scanlan. We won t be dragging cables across the field.

Players and managers will also be miked so they can talk to ESPN s on-air talent during the games. The rules mandate that three or four pitchers are used per game so we would love to be able to talk to one of the pitchers after they re done about their strategy or a particular situation, says Scanlan. The same goes for managers.

As many as six announce teams will be on hand to cover the games for TV networks from around the globe. And ESPN will also have translators on hand to translate what is being said during a trip to the mound.