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Thread: Article: Twins' broadcaster Dick Bremer discusses advanced stats in the booth

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    Owner Big-Leaguer Parker Hageman's Avatar
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    Article: Twins' broadcaster Dick Bremer discusses advanced stats in the booth

    @OverTheBaggy

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    Senior Member All-Star Shane Wahl's Avatar
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    This is good for Bremer. Again, I would like Parker, Nick, Aaron, John, and Seth.

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    The one part of audience analysis Bremer forgot to assess was does anybody really listen to what they say?
    They must have a low opinion of the fan if they think they need to discuss the infield fly rule even once a year

  4. #4
    I'm sure there is market research to back him up, but it doesn't seem like Dick has much faith in his viewers' intelligence. As far as leaving things up on the screen for long enough, maybe they could get rid of those inane Twitter polls. Maybe FSN could better utilize their pre and post-game shows to better educate viewers on these stats.

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    Senior Member All-Star IdahoPilgrim's Avatar
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    I don't think it's a knock on viewers' intelligence, but a recognition that there is a good segment of their audience that doesn't care about ERA or slugging %, let alone WAR or BABIP.

    There are some people who liked math in school, and some who hated it. There are some who see statistics, including advanced statistics, adding to their understanding of the game, and some who aren't trying to understand they game - they just want the entertainment value. And that should be OK; the TV broadcasts have to take them into account as much as they do those who desire advanced statistics. To use the analogy in the article, regarding restaurants, there is nothing wrong with enjoying a meal at a restaurant and not caring what the recipe is.

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    I agree with everything Bremer said, and I'm a math/stats guy. If people think there is an appetite for more science in their entertainment, then you probably need to pay more attention to politics and voters.

    As for the Twitter polls, people love that stuff. It makes them feel part of the action. Kind of like fans saying "we" and living and dying on a team's wins and losses, even though they have no logical connection to the team.

    It's all about entertainment, for some of us, that includes more stats and "real" analysis. For others, it is just about watching in the moment, and not worrying so much about what is causing things to happen the way they are.
    Lighten up Francis....

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    Senior Member Triple-A Gernzy's Avatar
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    Great interview. Dick nailed all the questions. It would be nice to see more stats in the broadcast, but the average viewer would be completely confused.

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    Senior Member Big-Leaguer crarko's Avatar
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    Senior Member Triple-A Don't Feed the Greed Guy's Avatar
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    How about having an analyst dedicated to talking about the statistical side of the game in the broadcast?
    Looking for a new job, Parker? If so, you better work on your Roy Smalley hairdo. Actually I think this is a great idea, along with the Cubbie's "Stats Sunday" idea. Copy it, Dick. And, if you have to explain the infield fly rule, then explain it. It's your job, so make it fun.

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    I love stats. The more stats and analysis, the better. I just got into advanced stats two years ago, and I'm still learnin'. No matter how much I care for this analysis (and my particular belief that this helps understand the game), leaving advanced stats out of broadcasts is something that doesn't surprise me, nor should it be viewed as a knock on someone's intelligence. Quite simply, the general viewership isn't supporting this type of analysis. If the populous wanted BABIP and xFIP, they'd have it. Also, great stuff Parker.

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    Good interview Parker. I always thought Bremer was a tough one to hook, good work.

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    Senior Member Triple-A
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    Good questions, good answers... just a very good interview. I happen to be one who likes Dick Bremer and I have ever since he was a sports anchor on the local CBS affiliate in Cedar Rapids. I think his answers show he's an intelligent baseball guy who understands that his audience is far broader in its interests than most people want to believe.

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    Senior Member Big-Leaguer Boom Boom's Avatar
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    I don't think that incorporating more statistics into the broadcast will exclude viewers who aren't familiar with the terminology. It's not like there's a shortage of time, and most of the time the viewers aren't completely locked in to the discussion anyway.

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    Quote Originally Posted by crarko View Post
    Ha, I was mostly talking "not Harold Reynolds-level" analysis.....
    Lighten up Francis....

  15. #15
    I expect at some point, you'll be able to choose between two broadcasts for a given game. One will "broadcast" and appeal to the average fan, but a second option will be added to appeal to deep baseball fans. So the average fan can listen to Dick and Bert call the game, but the Twins Daily crowd can listen to Nick and Parker or maybe to this broadcast crew.

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    Senior Member All-Star JB_Iowa's Avatar
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    I am in the camp that believes that Bremer and FSN in general underestimate the intelligence of the average fan. (And, while I believe that most of the people here are far above-average in terms of their devotion to the Twins and to baseball in general, I do know people who watch Twins broadcasts on a casual basis).

    My most serious complaint is that Bremer generally does not appreciate that sometimes SILENCE truly is golden. Corey Provus acknowledged the importance of silence with regard to radio in the recent TD interview and to me, silence is even MORE important on television which is, after all, a VISUAL medium. There are so many times that Bremer and Blyleven talk over the action and simply muddle it (and Blylevens' replacements are even worse).

    I paint FSN in general with the same brush. The broadcast of the CR Kernals game the other day was an absolute travesty and the Twins honchos should be embarrassed about the way that broadcast went. They made the "talking heads" much more important than EITHER the game or the prospects. Again, TV is a visual medium -- we wanted to be able to SEE these prospects play not to see a small square that gave as much (and sometimes more by the way they cut back to the studio) prominence to the yammering trio (composed differently at various times of the game). They could easily have reduced the size of the screen for the commentators and let us SEE the real game and more importantly, see how each of these prospects handled himself.

    I have had the complaint about the Twins TV coverage or many years but it is even more serious when the team in not playing well. When times are good, they very well may get people who just drop by for games on occasion. But when, like now, times are reasonably bad, the people who watch games are usually going to be fairly die-hard fans who know something about the team. The broadcasters simply do not need to keep repeating the same information over and over.

    While I would like to hear some statistical analysis by the broadcasters, I'm afraid it would lead to even less silence than currently. There are a lot of places I can go for statistical analysis where I can read it and really absorb it in a way that I couldn't do just hearing it.

    I'd like Bremer to stick to some clean play-by-play and for the color man (whoever he is) to add just that, color -- information that gives texture to the game. That could (and should) include some simple statistical analysis. I'd really like the broadcasts to get back to being about baseball rather than simply being about entertainment. To me, the GAME continues to be the most important thing, not the personalities talking about it.

  17. #17
    All agreed - love the stats - don't mind Bremer - getting real tired of Bert just reading the stats sheet, and describing EVERY base hit as "dropping the barrel of the bat on the ball" -

    Nice work, Parker!

  18. #18
    Senior Member All-Star IdahoPilgrim's Avatar
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    At the end of the day, this is all about entertainment more than it is about baseball. That's true of all spectator sports - at the end of the day it's about pleasing a diverse fanbase that includes hard-core supporters who know the intricacies of the game and the average joe who doesn't know xFIP from UZR and doesn't care.

    A valid argument can be made that, for some parts of that fanbase, delving into advanced statistics enhances the entertainment value, and if this stuff does become more prominent in TV and radio broadcasts that will be the reason. I do think it would be possible, though, to apply them in a way that is more approachable for those who don't go to fangraphs regularly. Given a choice between hearing a) so-and-so has a poor xFIP, and b) so-and-so really relies on his defense to be effective, I think the second makes more sense for a larger fanbase.

  19. #19
    Senior Member All-Star TheLeviathan's Avatar
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    Bremer is right, at some point hammering stat graphics into the game every 5 seconds just to appease people is a bit of waste. At what point will that become sufficient? Is BABIP enough? Do we need a breakdown of every hitter's past success against a pitcher when it is partly cloudy and they had a good breakfast?

    Stats are amazingly awesome and baseball is a goldmine s for them. But at some point the content on the screen becomes an informational overload. Stat-heads who want it can go to any of the key data-mining websites and have it all at their fingertips now anyway, blasting flashy graphics just to say you're ahead of the broadcasting game seems like a silly demand to me.

    No reason for the broadcasts to become a cluttered mess, which is all it seems to me that Bremer is saying.

  20. #20
    Owner Big-Leaguer Parker Hageman's Avatar
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    But at some point the content on the screen becomes an informational overload. Stat-heads who want it can go to any of the key data-mining websites and have it all at their fingertips now anyway, blasting flashy graphics just to say you're ahead of the broadcasting game seems like a silly demand to me.
    Nobody is suggesting that they just "blast flashy graphics" on the screen. They need to "blast flashy graphics" of stats that are informative and relevant. For example, the WGN broadcast has recently begun adding the Run Expectancy chart to their games (seen here). This is a statistical nugget that both casual (or "average") baseball fans and the diehards alike can appreciate.

    Furthermore, they need to produce stat graphics that make sense. During a Boston series in Fenway, FSN flashed the graphic of Mike Napoli on the screen that showed his career splits versus left-handed pitching and right-handed pitching. The stats chosen were as follows: Batting Average/HR/RBI. For Napoli, his career numbers against right-handed pitchers was .255/110/319 compared to .270/45/110. While the graphic was up, Bremer was raving that the Red Sox obtained Napoli for his power against left-handed pitching. The graphic provided no context to show that Napoli was a better power-hitter against left-handed pitching -- no plate appearance totals, no slugging percentages, nothing to back up Bremer's correct assessment. If you are the "average" fan, this graphic and editorial would not make sense.

    The "average" fan remains an "average" fan by not being educated and enlightened.

    Going back to the WGN broadcasts -- one of the most widely viewed broadcasts, by the way -- injects plenty of statistical analysis discussions during their games, clearly showing that the "average" fan is not turning off their TVs during these topics. Len Kasper, who holds Bremer's position for the Cubs, described it this way:

    The best way for us to push the conversation forward is to pick our spots and relate the new numbers to the game/topic at hand. If a team rates highly in Defensive Efficiency, I can merely say, "The numbers say when balls are put in play, this team converts them into outs better than most." Or if a starting pitcher'sBABIP is killing his ERA, we can say, "His peripheral numbers might indicate some bad luck this season, and an adjustment may be in order." These are ways to introduce people to better evaluation tools without turning the broadcast into an advanced math class.
    Nobody is asking broadcasters to recite the WAR of every player who comes to the plate. What needs to be done is to speak to the reason Justin Morneau is obtaining RBIs when he has not hit home runs (Mauer's on-base percentage). Or why the pitching staff allows so many hits (outfield range issues). The team has a closer who openly discusses things like FIP and the concepts behind pitching allowing for a perfect opportunity to talk about that on the air.

    There is plenty that goes into broadcasts (silence, commentating by ex-ballplayers, etc) that are vital, but educating about the theories of the game should be vital too.

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