Cal Ripken Jr. will spend Sunday afternoon in Toronto watching the Yankees and Blue Jays from field level rather than TBS’ broadcast booth, part of an ongoing experiment that just might continue through the American League playoffs.
The Turner analyst suggested the move last Sunday when the Tigers played the Indians, and executive producer Tim Kiely approved it, then liked how it went so much he approved it again for this weekend.
The player-like perspective appeared to loosen up Ripken, a Hall of Famer as a player but still a relative novice as a television analyst.
“In the broadcast booth you’re up high, overhead, and you can kind of see the shifting and stuff, so that’s good,” he said Tuesday at an event in Manhattan to preview Turner’s postseason coverage. “But you can’t really see some of the inner workings from there.
“So when I said that, T.K. said, ‘Let’s try it.’ They put me down on the field. So you’re the third member of the broadcast booth [with Ernie Johnson and Ron Darling], but you’re in another location. Then all of a sudden you can look at the manager’s signals and the manager’s face and see what’s happening. Then you can really watch.
“So that was kind of fun. I’m going to do it again in Toronto. But I found myself really watching, not monitoring, but watching the action because you’re close enough to see all the things that matter.”
Said Kiely: “Last week Cal came to us and said, ‘Can I do a game from the dugout [area]?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, sure!’ Ran it by everybody and it was like yeah, let’s try it. Then all of a sudden last Sunday he was on the field, right next to the dugout where he was for 30 years.
“For all the games he doesn’t do on a regular basis and to get all those reps, you put him down there and he’s back home. He just started rattling. He was way more active, because he was uncomfortable at times being at the top of the building, watching the monitor, which is basically what we’re seeing at home.”
Kiely asked Ripken afterward whether he enjoyed the experience. “He said, ‘I love it. I saw so much more stuff,’ ” Kiely said. “To me, that’s Cal Ripken . . . It really, really freed him up.”