On Wednesday evening, I was fortunate enough to spend my birthday attending the Nationals game and to sit with Bob Carpenter and F.P. Santangelo in the MASN broadcast booth from the second through the fifth innings. You might assume my lofty position as a MASNsports.com guest blogger was my ticket to this invitation, but actually, several months back at the Nats Clubhouse Social event, I was the lucky winner of this opportunity as a raffle prize.
As a diehard baseball fan that has spent a bit of time in press boxes and around television media, I assumed I knew what announcers do during the broadcast. But observing it in-person, it amazed me the amount of activity going on in the booth that the viewer would never know is happening live on-air.
Bob is cooler than December snow during the broadcast, doing play-by-play while casually keeping an eye on the television screen on his left, the active laptop on his right and keeping score of the game. I was truly astounded when he stood up to grab a book to research a player not on either team while still calling the action. If you think you can multi-task, Bob Carpenter is my No. 1 seed.
In addition, the chemistry Bob has with their in-booth producer is incredible. The producer will stand a few feet behind Bob until time to give them a live advertisement to read. Bob will sense the producer’s presence behind him and lean slightly back in his chair, allowing him to easily slide the paper in front of him with the appropriate information. The phrase “like a machine” is a true cliché but perfectly explains how smoothly these men work together.
F.P. is much different during the action than I anticipated. I expected him to be far more reactionary in this position, seeing what happens on the field and giving his instant opinion. I assumed this was the reason former players so often occupy the analyst chair. That is woefully underselling the position, almost like saying Santa Claus builds toys. F.P. is in constant communication with the truck and is extremely proactive, asking them to “put a camera on the left fielder in a strange fielding position” or “what was the Statcast on that blast” before a home run even reaches the stands. He talks as much or more to the production truck than he does on-air during games.
After spending a few innings in the booth, I have a much greater appreciation for the work baseball announcers do each night. They had three strangers (myself, my brother and my sister) in the booth for three innings during a tough game for the Nationals and never missed a beat. Then, as soon as the cameras went off, would immediately strike up conversations with us and seemed as genuinely happy to meet us as we were them. Both Bob and F.P. could not have been more gracious answering our questions and taking pictures.
I want to thank Sarah Perucci and the Washington Nationals for this wonderful experience. During what has been a disappointing season, this will be my favorite 2018 baseball memory and a much-needed reminder of how much I love baseball.
Ryan Sullivan blogs about the Nationals at The Nats GM and runs The Nats GM Show podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @NatsGMdotcom. His views appear here as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.