Diary of a commentator

swiftaw

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SoSH Member
Jan 31, 2009
2,109
Especially as the Bucs numbers were particular hard to read on TV last night, I kept wanting to know who caught it.
 
Can't we just get @ConigliarosPotential to stream us some live commentary? You know, for product testing and feedback purposes, and building his portfolio.
Copied from the World Cup qualifiers thread...FWIW, DAZN does have the rights to the CONCACAF and CONMEBOL qualifiers in Canada, and Agent Tim - who also commentates a bit himself - was actually hosting a RedZone-like program on yesterday's South American qualifiers. Of course, there was exactly one goal in the first half of all five games combined, so that must have felt more than a bit awkward.

Meanwhile, out of the blue I just got asked by Agent Tim if I'd like to call the AC Milan vs. Juventus match on Saturday 28 October. Um, yes please? I'd thought that sort of soccer match was above my pay grade at this point, but I guess not...I really can't believe my luck at the moment.
 
Interesting article about DAZN's NFL launch in Canada, which doesn't seem to have gone that well...

http://nationalpost.com/sports/football/nfl/dazn-working-on-making-all-nfl-games-available-via-cable-satellite-providers

...although that said, DAZN has agreed deals with Shaw and SaskTel and is working on a deal with Rogers to make its NFL content available through their cable and/or satellite services. From my perspective, this means there should be at least a few more people watching me this Sunday, which is nice!
 
That exact thought did actually occur to me, but you can't really make up a nickname for a team on the fly like that...how would you like it if I referred to the Boston Red Sox as "BRS"?

Anyway, that game is thankfully over (finished 3-1 to Jokerit), and now I'm into full NFL pregame mode, having gone into an editing suite to script the introductory feature while moving the video back and forth as often as I wanted to get the timings exactly right - so much better to have that kind of control. The pregame is very heavy on the Cam Newton controversy from early this week, then halftime is the usual spread of stats, scores and late-game previews...but after that, during the second half we'll be going to nearly-live highlights from RedZone in pretty much every ad break, which will be really exciting. I'll get handed a shot list and then told to narrate everything on the fly; not quite Scott Hanson-esque, but very cool all the same. (Incidentally, the general consensus around the room is that we really can't understand why Bell Canada didn't choose to take Lions-Panthers as a live game on Canadian television; surely this is the best of today's early games, isn't it? Kevin Clark at The Ringer certainly thinks so...)
 
Back at the hotel at the end of my marathon day, sneaking a few peeks at the Sox game and RedZone as I type, and I can't say I'm wholly satisfied. I felt good going into the NFL broadcast - better than I had last week - but despite a strong, confident start, I felt I underperformed what I'm capable of. This was the first week in which I was able to stick around after the game and rewatch all of my segments; all the bits I'd scripted were delivered well, but I'm struggling to keep my voice correctly modulated and particularly not to rush through certain passages where I feel I have a lot of information to deliver. I need to write better, shorter notes that confuse me less and give me less to rush through. And I also need to try and watch as many of our prerecorded features as possible, to make sure I know what I'm handing off to segment by segment - e.g., what I thought was a standard NFL Network preview of the Cowboys-Packers game wound up being a first-person feature from Dak Prescott's perspective about the game, and so my segue into the feature sounded not quite right. I also had a bad moment of miscommunication with my production colleagues: at the start of halftime, I talked through one page of halftime scores from the early games across the league, and I thought (as per a pregame discussion with the control room) we would then go to a page showing the lineup of late and SNF/MNF games...but instead they cut straight to the Rams-Seahawks game preview, and I had to quickly backtrack in a way that made me look bad.

I did get to narrate two RedZone highlights packages during stoppages in the fourth quarter - three TD passes from the Giants-Chargers game, and three INTs from Ben Roethlisberger - which were cut and aired very soon after the latest highlight in each package happened, and that seemed to work very well; it felt like a test run for something we might do much more often going forward, and I hope that is indeed the case. But it's more important that I try to improve my overall delivery, and to try and create the conditions that make it most likely that I can improve my delivery in the moment (e.g., write sharp, to-the-point notes I can more easily use).

Anyway, as the saying goes...I'm on to Vienna.
 
I assume nobody really wants to hear the specifics of my travel-related odysseys, but this morning was certainly not a happy one for me. I had to drop off a suitcase with extra clothes at the apartments where I'll be staying from Thursday to Monday in Leeds, then drive my car from my hotel car park to a long-stay car park about 15 minutes' walk from the hotel, then I needed to walk back to the hotel, grab the rest of my luggage, check out of the hotel and scurry along to the train station (3-4 minutes from the hotel) to catch my train to Manchester Airport. To make a long story short, owing to the stupid one-way road systems in Leeds, a missed turn, the need to keep turning and climbing up to level 15 in the car park to find a spot, a pay point in the car park that couldn't read my credit card, and my train platform being much further away from the station entrance than I thought, I only made it to my train with a few minutes to spare. That would have sucked. Oh, and Manchester Airport is a dive; among other things, I should have known better than to buy anything from the "Mexican" establishment where they asked if I wanted "slaw" on my burrito.

Anyway, I'm in Vienna now - made good time getting to my hotel, and I only wish the Vienna State Opera was showing an actual opera tonight instead of a ballet. Last year I went to two operas there (Massenet's Manon and Verdi's Macbeth), taking advantage of what is surely the best deal in world music: if you're willing to queue for a wee while and show up early enough, you can buy a standing room ticket for €3 (balcony) or €4 (rear stalls) which includes a real-time electronic libretto display in either English, German or the native language of the opera in question. For Manon, I was able to move forward after the intermission (i.e., after the Japanese tourists had left) and get a front-row standing seat - just behind people who had paid €150 for their tickets - and it was truly magical. If you're ever in Vienna and have an evening to spare, you really should partake of this offer even if only to tour the building itself and maybe stay for the first act.
 
I had a really productive day of prep today, both for tonight's CHL game (Malmo Redhawks vs. Kometa Brno) and for my KHL game coming up later in the week involving Barys Astana, a team I haven't commentated on yet. Now I've arrived at the studio...and I've realized that I left my folder full of prep sheets back at the hotel. It's too late to go back and get them, so I'm going to have to print out some spares in black-and-white - the lack of a color printer here at the office is infuriating - and that's a very bad thing. I use color a LOT on my prep sheets to help me instantly assess certain facts and figures, and now I'm going to have to go through each sheet and highlight a bunch of stuff.

[FAKE EDIT: huh, having just typed that, it turns out that there is actually one color printer on the other side of the floor, and Producer Markus was able to print a few extra color sheets for me. Of course, the first time he sent the files to the printer - and walked around the floor with me to use his security pass on the printer to print them out - he managed to only send one of the four sheets I wanted, so we went back to his office to print them again, and this time he managed to print one of them in black-and-white. I told him not to bother with another one; that B&W one is a backup sheet anyway, so I'll just need to be careful not to mess up with the Brno lineup when it comes in.]
 

blueguitar322

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SoSH Member
Sep 20, 2005
983
I'm loving this thread; I've been following it since the beginning. Thanks for this glimpse into a part of sports most people usually never see.

Here's my question for you: do you have to mentally adjust your expectations level when you call different tiers of talent? E.g. AC Milan vs Juve will probably feature much better soccer than many other games. Let's say you called that game and then the next day had to call a Segunda Division or English Championship (the weirdly-named second league, for those who don't watch soccer). Do you set a lower threshold for criticizing bad play? Set a lower bar for what causes you to raise your voice in excitement?

I feel like if I was extremely well-versed in any given sport's top-tier (as you are in soccer), then it'd be hard for me to not over-criticize when announcing lower tiers. Hell, it'd be hard to get as excited about the game, period.
 
That's a perfectly good question, although for me, I don't really think about the games I'm calling in those terms. I go into every one of my commentary matches assuming that someone, somewhere must think it's important, and whether it's been watched by three people or 30,000 people (maybe I'll hit 3 million people someday?), it has to resonate for them. Every goal in every game should be treated with excitement, and every moment of skill that is above and beyond the norm for the level of game I'm calling is worthy of extra emphasis. If anything, I might actually flip your question around and say that while I'll be harsh about bad play at any level, I'll be rather more harsh on Milan and Juventus if that game degenerates into a sloppy stalemate than I was when Montpellier and Caen or Vissel Kobe and Yokohama F-Marinos were scoreless in their respective second halves. I'll go into the Milan-Juve game with expectations that I don't have with lesser teams, and that colors my approach more than the reverse would be true.
 
Meanwhile, my CHL game tonight was a true shambles. The lineups were late in arriving with me, and when they arrived I knew something was amiss, because every player on the Kometa Brno roster seemed to be dressing for the game - six full lines' worth of players. That was eventually fixed, but the lineups for both teams kept changing, with a player being removed from the Brno lineup and another added to the Malmo lineup (after I'd already crossed him off my sheet) less than 10 minutes before I went on the air. Worse, even though this game would decide the winner and second-place finisher in CHL Group B, both coaches decided to treat this almost as a practice match: Malmo rested six of their front-line starters, and Brno rested 11 of theirs, including every one of their top five scorers in the domestic Czech league this season. A total of 10 players who I hadn't researched at all - I mean, AT ALL - dressed tonight, and I had to squeeze their names and numbers between the names and numbers on my sheet. (If I had access to my own color printer, like I do in Leeds for my KHL games, this would have been less of a problem...) And even more stupidly, several Brno players swapped numbers before the game - e.g., the #42 Michal Barinka wore #18, which meant the usual #18 Lukas Vagner wore #11 - and several Malmo youngsters wore jerseys with the numbers of other resting players (and no surnames on them). I was frantically typing up new notes for my intro until less than 30 seconds before I went on the air, which is made worse by the fact that the pinkie finger on my left hand is suffering from an infection, and it hurts like hell to type properly.

The stadium was also mostly empty (although there was a fairly big group of traveling Brno fans that chanted and sang and clapped and pounded their feet for the whole game)...and just to top everything off, maybe 10-15 times throughout the first two periods of the game, the satellite feed spluttered to a halt and went completely blank for maybe 4-8 seconds at a time. The phrase that kept going through my head early in the game was "survive and advance": just get through this, be as professional as you can, and live to fight another day. The game was mostly a dud as well, finishing 3-0 to Malmo, although I will actually be quite interested to listen to the tape of the game, as I think this is the sort of game from which you can learn a lot. I have a sneaky suspicion that I'm going to like how I sound on the recording; I think the more reserved vocal style I used may actually play rather well.
 
I will actually be quite interested to listen to the tape of the game, as I think this is the sort of game from which you can learn a lot. I have a sneaky suspicion that I'm going to like how I sound on the recording; I think the more reserved vocal style I used may actually play rather well.
I've listened to enough of tonight's game now to believe that my suspicion was correct: counter-intuitively, I think trying to be less excited about games in the future may actually be good for reining in my worst tendencies. I do like the sound of my voice on tonight's tape.

One of my own favorite calls ever was of a Chris Drury goal for BU in a Beanpot Final back in the late 1990s. My call of the goal itself was very polished and professional, but there was a sequence just before the goal in which both teams had great chances to score in quick succession, and I blurted out: "It's just going end-to-end and there's no end in sight to this excitement at the Fleet Center!" I love the near poetry of that line - different uses of "end", the rhyming of "sight" and "excite" - and how it just came out of me naturally, completely unforced and unplanned. But I still cringe slightly when I hear it or remember it, because my voice jumped up about 12 octaves on the first "end" in "end-to-end": I was way too excited in the moment, mainly because I was in a huge arena with a big crowd and a great atmosphere in a meaningful game and hadn't yet calibrated what I was feeling to what was actually happening on the ice. (In fact, I think my call of the actual goal was so good because it was scored by Drury and not by a Harvard player: that fact alone brought me back from the edge of near-orgasm to where I ideally wanted to be.) You will never, ever hear Joe Buck or Al Michaels get overexcited in the second quarter of an NFL game. Sometimes their touchdown calls can sound slightly too dead for my liking, but they do know how to rein themselves in and make sure they save their highest intensity for the end-game moments which really do matter the most. And I get why so many people love Gus Johnson - and I do tend to err on the side of being overly enthusiastic like him - but ultimately, he's just not as professional-sounding as the true greats of the profession. I certainly never want to sound bored about any game I'm calling, let alone a scoring play in said game, but I never want to sound out of control like Johnson can at peak Johnson-ness, where there's really no way for him to get crazier. I think a worthwhile target for me on the enthusiasm-o-meter would be between Buck/Michaels and Mike Emrick...maybe two-thirds of the way toward Emrick.
 
Here's your exercise today if you want to match my commentary experience: slam your pinkie finger in a door really hard, and then try to call a game for two-and-a-half hours. That's what my infected finger feels like; I even went to a pharmacy in Austria and bought a couple of creams from a chemist there, but despite gobbling down painkillers and reapplying creams all day, I'm still in a pretty bad way. It didn't affect my commentary, I don't think, but my game was a dud - 3-0 to Zurich over Klagenfurt, although at least neither team used any unexpected players - and I found myself getting a bit temperamental with my novice cutter, who somehow managed to exclude a goal from the highlights feed of the first of two games I've had to do this evening.

Speaking of highlights, I was told by Agent Tim that DAZN has requested that I call the highlights from four soccer games on Saturday: Urawa Reds v Vissel Kobe, Athletic Bilbao v Sevilla, Leeds United v Reading, and Getafe v Real Madrid. How eclectic is that quartet? The problems are that a) I'm really going to need that time on Saturday afternoon (after my morning KHL game) to prep for the next day's KHL game and NFL presenting duties - looking like Tampa Bay-Arizona as things stand - and b) they're not offering me any money to do so. They view highlights voiceovers as part of the fee they pay me for my work on a given day...which would be fine if they're talking about revoicing highlights for a game I've already called, but to prepare for and then voiceover four games like this out of the blue, you're talking about 2-3 hours' worth of work in total. And that added to everything else really risks turning me into a zombie by the end of Sunday night. I quite like the idea of getting to call Real Madrid and even Leeds United highlights as-live (i.e., doing fake commentary as though I was in charge of the full broadcast), but I don't like the way this is looking. Thankfully, both Tim and another guy who was being asked to perform similar tasks on Saturday night - albeit only two games instead of four - think this request is pretty ludicrous, and Tim has already pushed back on DAZN's request, so we'll see what happens tomorrow. I'm sure I'll be talking about this more with Tim in the car from Manchester Airport back to Leeds tomorrow.

(By the way, if you're wondering why DAZN can't clip the live commentary from these games out as highlights and not need someone like me to get involved...that makes two of us.)
 
My day started more than 17 hours ago now, and I only just finished working for the night. I woke up at 5 a.m. with my sore finger absolutely throbbing with pain; all I could do was try to soak it in a glass of water by the bed while I first tossed and turned and then gave up and watched the ninth inning of Indians-Yankees on MLB At Bat. (Yuck.) I struggled through my shower and breakfast and made my way to the airport; on my way through security, suddenly I realized my finger was oozing blood and pus. I'll spare you further gory details, but the upshot is that the pressure has finally been relieved and I can now use my pinkie again and type without any significant pain. Whew.

Agent Tim picked me up at Manchester Airport, and we had a good chat on the way through to Leeds. We went back and forth with DAZN about the four aforementioned highlights, and after a derisory sum was offered for my services, Tim stepped in and said he'd do the highlights for me, which is probably for the best. I did offer to do one of them, just to get a taste of what this might be like going forward, and so I'll be doing Athletic Bilbao vs. Sevilla, mainly because I called Sevilla's game a few weeks ago and won't need to do any research on them. (I had my choice of games but settled on the easy option, rather than the more intriguing Real Madrid and Leeds assignments.) I did learn why games that have already been commentated upon in English require re-commentating in English for the highlights: editors at DAZN Germany cut the Spanish highlights, DAZN Japan does the Italian games and DAZN Canada (in the UK) does the French games so as not to repeat each other's work thrice over. Which makes sense, to a point...anyway, I should have plenty of time to do that after my lunchtime KHL game on Saturday.

Meanwhile, my third attempt to do a day's voiceover work in Leeds suffered similar-yet-different technical difficulties yet again. The purpose-built voiceover booth isn't yet up and running, so I'm the equivalent of a square peg being hammered into a round hole. I spare both you and myself all the details of that particular episode; suffice it to say that the good news is that I still get paid for the work I produced today.

The better news is that I've been given access to a special proxy connection to DAZN's servers, so that I can start reviewing my own work again - only at the office, but that's much better than the complete lack of access I've had recently, particularly given all the time I will be spending in the office going forward. (I have this access on my own laptop as well, which is convenient.) Also, I have a co-commentator for my KHL game tomorrow (SKA St. Petersburg, now 20-1 after their surprise loss to Sochi the other day, against Salavat Yulaev Ufa): a Canadian who briefly played for the Edmonton Oilers before moving to the UK and playing for many years in Sheffield. I have no idea how good he is, or whether he knows anything about the KHL, but hopefully we can connect tomorrow before the game and iron out any potential kinks. It's always nice to have a second pair of eyes!
 
Things have been looking up here in Leeds over the past two days. Yesterday I called the SKA St. Petersburg vs. Salavat Yulaev Ufa match with a new co-commentator, Ron, who played 10 games with the Edmonton Oilers back in 1987/88 - with Gretzky/Messier/Kurri/Tikkanen et al. - before moving to the UK and having a long career with the Sheffield Steelers. (He had five assists in those 10 games for Edmonton - as a defenseman - but never played in the NHL again, which seems pretty weird to me...I guess it was almost impossible not to average half-a-point per game on that team!) He was a really nice guy, but perhaps not yet the most refined commentator; I did chat with him for quite a long time before the game, and then after the game we watched bits of the match replay and bounced ideas off each other about how he could improve, which is really encouraging to see in a commentator. SKA had just lost their first game of the year after starting with a 20-game winning streak, and our game was 2-2 in the third period before SKA got two goals to win 4-2, so that was good fun. I did stay up too late last night, doing prep work but also distracted by the appearance on my TV of GoldenEye - and you can be pretty sure I'm going to reference the "Pierce Brosnan drives a tank through St. Petersburg" scene when I call SKA again tomorrow afternoon against Ak Bars Kazan - best team in the Eastern Conference against the best team in the Western Conference - along side co-commentator Paul.

As for today, I was on my own for Barys Astana vs. Kunlun Red Star, a real see-saw game that went to a wild 3-on-3 overtime period before Astana won 4-3 late on. During each intermission I went back and listened to my calls of the goals in the periods which has just ended, and I knew my voice wasn't quite a peak form - I think talking so much with Ron yesterday may have taken something out of my voice! - but it was great to have access to my live game on-demand in the moment. Then, after that game was done I did my first as-live highlights commentary on Athletic Bilbao vs. Sevilla, which finished 1-0 to Bilbao in a bit of an upset. It was actually easier than I thought it might be: having printed off the teams and put one or two webpages with background information at my fingertips, I watched each individual incident in turn, wrote down the names and numbers of who did what, and then went back to call each incident knowing exactly what was going to happen. It's actually great practice for my soccer commentary, being able to think through what I might want to say before saying it (and having multiple takes to get it right if desired)...and now having spoken with Agent Tim here after the match - he's presenting the Atletico Madrid-Barcelona game tonight - it does seem as though a little bit of money will be set aside on a per game basis for people doing highlights like this in the future. So I'll definitely be putting my hand up for those duties going forward!

One last tidbit: I've just been chatting with John, a Liverpudlian who is calling the Atletico-Barcelona match - he's the other guy tapped to do highlights tonight, and he intervened on my behalf with Tim (saying that I shouldn't be asked to do four highlights in one day). Really gregarious guy, lovely to talk to; he's a Bears fan, so we were talking about Glennon and Trubisky and fake punts and great two-point conversion plays, and I immediately dialed up the highlights on DAZN for us to watch as well, which was fun. He does loads of soccer - he just drove up from Liverpool, having called the Liverpool-Man Utd match for LFCTV, and does world feed broadcasts on behalf of IMG for the Champions League, the Dutch League, the Japanese League, etc.; I flipped on the end of the Getafe-Real Madrid match, and it was interesting how quickly he picked up on the fact that the commentators weren't from DAZN but rather young guys doing world feed commentary for La Liga out of Spain (one of of the easiest giveaways was the fact that the commentators referred to "La Liga Santander", rather than just "La Liga"). Anyway, the one particularly interesting revelation for me is that John's day job - in between his many football match commentaries - is that he works in media relations for the Icons Series of golf matches, featuring famous sportsmen from different sports playing Ryder Cup-style events with one another. They have a marquee event lined up for next September in New York which will feature the likes of Peyton Manning, Michael Jordan, Steph Curry and others, with Jack Nicklaus and Rory McIlroy serving as team captains...which in and of itself sounds great, but when John had mentioned this within DAZN, the head of DAZN Canada expressed a definite interest in getting involved on the broadcasting side of things, and I've now expressed a definite interest with John to get involved as a commentator if that should come to pass. It's bloody hard to get into golf commentary, but that could possibly be an initial way in for me.
 
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What a brilliant day I've had today in Leeds so far. I got in early to look at the features we've planned for the Tampa Bay-Arizona game, and actually contributed an idea for a graphic that we're going to use in the broadcast. (We're using some Hard Knocks-centered footage of Jameis Winston, and to come out of that feature I suggested we put Winston's career passing stats - games played, interceptions, completion percentage and yards/attempt - alongside the stats of the other NFC South quarterbacks by way of comparison.) I'm feeling really good ahead of our NFL game tonight, now with the Falcons-Dolphins on one screen and RedZone on another screen in my commentary booth.

Meanwhile, my KHL game today was really excellent - SKA St. Petersburg, best in the Western Conference at 21 wins and 1 loss, against Ak Bars Kazan, top of the Eastern Conference by 3 points over Avangard Omsk. So a potential Gagarin Cup Finals preview, and it was close throughout: 0-0 after one, 1-1 after two (two late goals in the second period), 2-2 after three...and then after Ilya Kovalchuk committed a penalty early during the 3-on-3 overtime, Kazan scored a 4-on-3 power play goal to win 3-2. Paul, my co-commentator, was solid and we had a good rapport, and I was even able to step back and watch some of the action while he was talking and then add a few color commentary points of my own. This is exactly the sort of game I live for: a close game between two good teams in tense environment where it feels like the game really matters to some extent. It's why I wanted to be a commentator when I grew up.

I also had a chat with Producer Ben this afternoon, before the KHL game. It's interesting that he's been so busy with soccer - I think he said he's doing seven gallery games (i.e., with a presenter and directed from a control room in Leeds) in seven days and barely has the time he wants to spend with his young staff and help coach them up in their production duties. Anyway, two interesting things to come out of our conversation:

1) It's likely that I'm going to be asked to present an NFL game on Christmas Eve, meaning I'll get back home on Christmas morning at either at 12:30 a.m. or (more likely) 4:00 a.m. At least I won't be required on Christmas Day itself, but still...WIFE ALERT! WIFE ALERT!

2) Ben is going on a six-day trip to St. Petersburg and Moscow in late November - we're lining up filler interviews with Datsyuk and Kovalchuk et al. of St. Petersburg, and also time with Mike Keenan of Kunlun Red Star when he's playing on the road in Moscow. It may be possible for me to come along and conduct the interviews, and also maybe to call a few games live from the arenas in Russia while I'm there...that's far from a sure thing, but that would be an AWESOME trip if we can make that work and there's budget for it.
 
Me and my big mouth, talking about what a perfect day it was right before the Falcons go all SB LI and cough up a big second-half lead to AFC East opposition. That said, I'm really, really pleased with my performance on NFL presenting duty - both before the game but especially at halftime, when I really nailed the most difficult thing I’ve had to do yet: a lengthy segment in which without interruption I had to talk through a montage of first half highlights, say something intelligent about the first-half statistics, narrate highlights of *15* consecutive plays cut from the RedZone Channel (the shot list of which I finished copying less than a minute before we went live at halftime), talk through all of the first-half scores, and introduce a preview of tonight’s game between the Broncos and Giants. Even better, I’ve now managed to record it - I'll try and post it in such a way that I can share it with you guys tomorrow. Not much of a game between Tampa Bay and Arizona (although the Bucs just this second returned a fumble for a touchdown and we might have life in the game yet), but that really was something at halftime.
 
Here's a link to that halftime segment I presented last night:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B_NErsSPyhOWeVV6SS1aTk9ZcGc

Bear in mind that I hadn't seen the montage of first-half highlights at the beginning of the clip before it started, *and* I hadn't seen more than 3-4 of the 15 RedZone highlights - most of this is pure improvisation. For the latter, here's exactly what I was looking at on my computer as I went through each clip one at a time:

--Saints: Stafford fumble, recovered for TD by Kenny Vaccaro
--Packers: Aaron Rodgers injury – Vikings’ Anthony Barr
--Lions: Golden Tate 45y TD (7-7)
--Browns:
Pick six by Kevin Hogan to Jonathan Joseph
--Pats: Brady to Gronk 33y TD
--Dolphins: Jay Cutler 11y TD to Kenny Stills
--Bears: Adrian Amos pick-six of Jay Flacco
--Jets: Austin Sefarian-Jenkins trying to pull the Jets back to within 3 pts, fumbles the ball over the pylon and out for a touchback
--Falcons: Matt Ryan late pick by Reshad Jones
--Ravens: Michael Campanaro 77y punt return for TD
o 2pt conversion: Nick Boyle pass from Flacco
--Redskins: Kirk Cousins TD run
--Niners: Aldrick Robinson 45y TD pass from
--Niners: Beathard 4th and 20, intercepted by Kendall Fuller
--Bears: Jordan Howard 53y run for the Bears in overtime to set up the Connor Barth winning FG
--Saints: Cameron Jordan INT in the Lions end zone for a TD

Jumping around from game to game like that...I'm really, really pleased by how this came out!
 

InstaFace

MDLzera
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Sep 27, 2016
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Yeah, very smooth. Two questions:

- I notice that there were a couple hesitations and verbal hiccups, for lack of a better term, right at the start of the first game (Bucs-Cardinals), but then you got into a rhythm. Was that due to something in production / behind the scenes, or just you getting in the right frame of mind?
- Why nothing on the decisive play of OT for Bears-Ravens? Was it still unfolding but you had to do the highlights with what you had?
- I wonder if the phrasing of "the saints still drop a 50-burger on the lions" will convey to a non-US audience...
 
I notice that there were a couple hesitations and verbal hiccups, for lack of a better term, right at the start of the first game (Bucs-Cardinals), but then you got into a rhythm. Was that due to something in production / behind the scenes, or just you getting in the right frame of mind?
You mean, e.g., like the pause between "What happened to the offensive..." and "...line for Arizona"? That was me trying to get in a rhythm and struggling to read my notes; I had actually prepared some pregame filler material about the bad Arizona O-line and only decided at the last moment to use it during halftime. The nature of these teasers coming into the start of halftime is that I'm given a montage of highlights from the game that I've never seen before and just need to say something semi-intelligent about the game to transition to the stat graphics (and then transition from those to the highlight clips, etc.); I'm beginning to get a better sense of how much time I have to fill and therefore how much material I need to use, and everything is feeling more natural - not least because I'm trusting myself more and feeling as though I need to read scripted comments less - but I'm not quite there yet.
Why nothing on the decisive play of OT for Bears-Ravens? Was it still unfolding but you had to do the highlights with what you had?
That was an editorial decision by our guy cutting the highlights - the long run *was* the decisive moment of the OT (in setting up the kick), and we already had loads of highlights from that game in the package, so I guess adding the field goal would have been overkill.
I wonder if the phrasing of "the saints still drop a 50-burger on the lions" will convey to a non-US audience...
I don't see why it wouldn't - I first remember hearing Rich Eisen use "forty-burger" and "fifty-burger" on the Sunday evening NFL Network highlight shows a while back, and while it was a weird turn of phrase, it's not like I needed any help to figure it out myself. You're right, though, that more generally I do need to be careful about cross-cultural differences when assessing my audience and deciding what to say and how to say it.
 
In other news, Agent Tim tells me today that FIBA has reviewed my tapes and pronounced me fit for purpose as a basketball commentator. This starts with the Basketball Champions League, the second-tier European club competition that it runs, on which I might serve as a spare voice to help fill any gaps they have have in their normal commentary lineup. I can't say that I'm desperate for work in the BCL, given all of my KHL and NFL commitments and the soccer I'm doing as well, but basketball is certainly a sport for which there are more commentary jobs available back in the US than most, and as such I do want to build up a decent basketball portfolio in due course.

(I do marvel at the opportunities I'm getting across so many different sports at the moment. Hockey play-by-play and NFL pregame/halftime/postgame presenting duties require wildly different skills and ranges of knowledge, and soccer is a completely different kettle of fish as well; I would like to think that my ability to learn quickly and cope pretty well with everything that's being thrown at me will be rewarded a bit better in due course, but for now I'm certainly happy to just get a chance to do everything I'm getting to do!)
 

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I just want to see him go back to the well on women's tennis. He could probably head over to TennisForum.com (the SoSH of women's tennis) and get his pre-match notes / filler / prep done for him by hundreds of grateful fans.
 
I just want to see him go back to the well on women's tennis. He could probably head over to TennisForum.com (the SoSH of women's tennis) and get his pre-match notes / filler / prep done for him by hundreds of grateful fans.
Ah, but I was already planning to crowd-source facts about the Patriots from you guys that I can use in the context of the SNF preview we'll be running at halftime of our game this Sunday. I've got the Falcons covered, of course...any insightful facts you would recommend for a 30-to-60-second slot?
 
Oh and my KHL voiceover duties next Tuesday in Leeds seem to have fallen through, but Agent Tim has filled the gap by getting me a soccer booking as the commentator on my first "gallery game" - one in which someone else will be presenting the game, I'll have a color commentator to assist me, etc. The good news: Barcelona is involved. The bad news: it's the first leg of a Copa del Rey tie against Murcia of the third tier in Spanish football, so I doubt Barca will be fielding a full-strength team. Still, the pay rate is higher for these games, and cracking that barrier means more such games might be forthcoming going forward. And hey, it's Barcelona!
 

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Ah, but I was already planning to crowd-source facts about the Patriots from you guys that I can use in the context of the SNF preview we'll be running at halftime of our game this Sunday. I've got the Falcons covered, of course...any insightful facts you would recommend for a 30-to-60-second slot?
I'd talk Patriots to you ad nauseam, but the right answer is to start a thread on BBTL and ask the people who actually know their shiitake to give their 30-second summaries and interesting facts, with a threat that you might use some of it on-air. Particularly if it flatters the Falcons.

The good news: Barcelona is involved. The bad news: it's the first leg of a Copa del Rey tie against Murcia of the third tier in Spanish football, so I doubt Barca will be fielding a full-strength team.
At the very least, you best come prepared with your jokes when they zoom in on Luis Suarez idly grinding his teeth on the bench, or Messi looking like he just rolled out of bed and has no idea where he is.

Also... Mercia? The coconut's tropical!
 
While my wife has been working this week, I took my kids on an overnight trip to Dundee and St. Andrews during their half-term break this week - just got back this afternoon. Nice to get a few days off, although I went straight back into prep mode tonight, preparing for my two KHL matches on Monday and Wednesday. Current schedule is:

--Sunday: NFL, Rams vs. Cardinals (from Twickenham)
--Monday: KHL, CSKA Moscow vs. SKA St. Petersburg (two of the three best teams in the Western Conference)
--Tuesday: Copa del Rey, Murcia vs. Barcelona (now no longer a gallery game, which lowers my fee...not sure if I'll have a co-commentator at this point)
--Wednesday: KHL, Jokerit vs. Barys Astana (the other best team in the Western Conference against a fairly good Eastern Conference team)

Milan vs. Juventus is now likely to be a gallery game next Saturday, and Agent Tim asked me today if I'd be willing and/or interested to present that game rather than commentate on it. Interesting...presenting a game like that probably involves notably less work than getting all the names and player facts down - you have to cover all of your bases - but commentating is where my heart really lies. My dream growing up was to help people experience and enjoy their sports more in the moment, and commentary certainly gets closer to that than presenting. But I've left it with Tim that if he can't line up a presenter (apparently all three of the normal presenters are busy, mainly because it's a 5 p.m. start on a Saturday), I would fill in if required.

By the by, I just caught a highlight of Olivier Giroud's marvelous goal vs. Red Star Belgrade in the Europa League today, and the commentary feed on the clip I heard was on Fox Sports 2 - does anyone know who that was doing that commentary? (Out of professional courtesy, I won't say everything I was thinking while listening to that clip, but it did have me thinking about emigrating back to America...)
 
Just a quick check-in ahead of my NFL game today - I've got Rams-Cardinals in London, so two Arizona games in a row for me. I enjoyed being home with my family for nearly a full week, and the four of us had our first skiing lessons at the dry ski slope south of Edinburgh yesterday...so I'm sore in muscles I didn't even know I had just now. Maybe not the best preparation for a four-day road trip!

I'm staying in a much cheaper, much less convenient hotel about 10-12 minutes' walk from the office this time. I bumped into Big Boss Scott on my way back into my luxury apartment (and on his way out) during my stay last week, and although we had a nice wee chat at the time, I fear that in retrospect this chance encounter may have triggered a memo or two. Sigh...

On top of that, I had a tough time this week forcing myself to prepare for Tuesday's Barcelona-Real Murcia cup tie in the Copa del Rey. For one, the Murcia players don't appear to have squad numbers - I don't think I'll have any idea who will be wearing which number until an hour before kickoff tomorrow night. Which...isn't ideal. Also, in researching how Barcelona tends to approach its matches at this stage of the Copa del Rey, I'm almost certain that a) none of their stars will play, and that it's entirely possible that b) some of their B team players might be called up to the senior squad. The nature of that match - has-beens and (mostly) never-will-bes for Murcia, and struggling second-teamers for Barca - is somewhat depressing, really. But I think I'm just about ready; I'll need to do some more research on the day of the game, but I have much more filler material prepared than I usually do, on the basis that if needs be I can just talk about Barcelona's season and even the political situation in Catalonia at length.

Also, my KHL commentary colleague Aaron Murphy is actually in the building today, calling Ak Bars Kazan vs. Metallurg Magnitogorsk - so I finally got to meet him a few minutes ago, during the second intermission of his game. Seems like a perfectly nice guy.
 
We sure know how to pick 'em on DAZN, don't we? I will say that when you're presenting a blowout, as we had with the Rams and Cardinals today, it makes it a lot easier to focus on the other games, particularly the RedZone highlights: in addition to the 10 halftime scenes I had to narrate, I was given 19 different scenes in three different packages to narrate during the second half as well, and that was easier than it might have been in large part because I was watching much more RedZone and much less of the actual Rams-Cards game during the second half.

I also got some plaudits for my work in the pregame show. When we got to the final taped segment in the pregame show (a Todd Gurley meeting with Marshall Faulk), I was told that we were right on schedule, and that I'd have maybe 30 seconds to fill before the start of the game. Toward the end of that segment, the control room suggested I'd have nearer 60 seconds to fill. But as I spoke to Gurley's stats and then moved on to some other filler I'd prepared previously, I became aware that I had much more time to fill than that. Luckily I had done my homework and could reference, e.g., the fact that today's game was only the fourth-ever game between the "Arizona Cardinals" and the "Los Angeles Rams" (both have St. Louis roots, of course, and for a while Arizona was called the "Phoenix Cardinals"). And I had literally just finished saying "let's get you across to our Fox commentary team of Sam Rosen, Ronde Barber and Kristina Pink" when Rosen spoke his first words at the start of the game - couldn't have been timed any better. And FWIW, we don't have an exact clock winding down to tell us when the play-by-play man will begin like that; I just managed to time it perfectly, largely by blind luck but also at least partly because I've watched enough NFL broadcasts in my life to have a feel for when the commentary is about to start. So that was nice.
 

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Congratulations on a job well done. Now just don't let that charm carry over to the game that's about to start.
 
Now just don't let that charm carry over to the game that's about to start.
Gee, thanks. :) I'm fully aware that the Falcons were 3-0 before I started presenting NFL games for DAZN and are now 0-3 since. Maybe it's better for my work, in a way, as the increasing unlikelihood of a Falcons NFC Championship repeat makes it easier for me to just concentrate on each game as it comes without worrying about the NFC playoff implications. Of course, it's now probably more likely that a Falcons game or two might get on to our schedule, as they become a less interesting proposition for Bell Canada (with them having first pick of the Sunday games, ahead of DAZN); I wouldn't be at all surprised to see us picking the Falcons-Jets game this week. We'll see.
 
Meanwhile, I'm feeling a little congested this week, and I wasn't at tip-top form for my KHL game today - in which Ilya Kovalchuk had a hat-trick, and SKA St. Petersburg defeated CSKA Moscow 5-2 in a game that was 1-0 SKA after two periods. I battled through it well enough (with the help of Paul, my co-commentator), but this week has felt like a battle. My hotel pillows are too hard, my room is too noisy, my bathroom literally feels like it's made of plastic...at least the breakfast buffet was good, but I'm just a little bit down at present. I still don't know my KHL schedule for next week, either, and therefore haven't been able to book my CHL flights to Vienna - which isn't good. Hopefully that gets resolved tomorrow.

In truth, I'm most worried about the Barcelona match tomorrow night. I should have a co-commentator, but I don't know who it will be - our pool of co-commentators seems to include the likes of Matt Elliott, Chris Kirkland, Lee Hendrie and Gerry Taggart, all familiar names to fans of Premier League football around a decade ago, so I'm expecting to be paired with one of them but don't yet know who or what to expect. I've never called a soccer game with an analyst alongside me, and I wish my first such experience was on an easier game. I exchanged emails with DAZN's contact at Opta, the statisticians, and got a few facts about the match tomorrow, but I've had it confirmed that Real Murcia's starters normally line up with numbers 1-11 on their backs regardless of who is playing, so I really have no way to try and learn their numbers before the squad details become available. I hate saying that I really just want to get past a Barcelona game in one piece, rather than actively looking forward to it, but that's where I am just now. Hopefully I can get a good night's sleep tonight.
 
I think I'm just about ready for Real Murcia v Barcelona tonight. I was greatly helped by the fact that Barcelona named its squad of 16 players for the trip yesterday - La Liga clubs are only allowed to dress 16 players for matches against third-tier opposition, apparently - and they all have their shirt numbers for tonight as well, which is a huge help. I've now researched all of those players thoroughly; hopefully that information will be fresh in my mind, insofar as I've only done most of the research today (instead of a day or two early). I've also prepared filler material to drop into the broadcast on the following:

--The referee, his 5 past matches involving Barcelona (aggregate score = 28-4 in Barca's favor, yikes) and his 3 past matches involving Real Murcia
--The two managers - latest news about Ernesto Valverde at Barca, and the complicated sacking/interim/hiring situation at Murcia this year
--The history of matches between the two clubs
--The most recent game between the two clubs (5-3 Barcelona away win in 2007/08, goals by Eto'o, Henry and a Giovanni dos Santos hat-trick)
--The most recent Real Murcia win over Barcelona (2-0 on 25 May 1989 - Barcelona's attack that day included the famous quartet of Gary Lineker, Julio Salinas, current Barca manager Ernesto Valverde, and current Man City director of football Txiki Begiristain)
--The most recent Copa del Rey meeting between the two clubs (1987/88 in the Round of 32, a year when Barca went on to win the competition)
--Yesterday's win by Cristiano Ronaldo over Messi/Neymar as the Best Men's FIFA Player of the Year
--Real Murcia's road to the last 32
--What happened to Real Murcia in last year's Copa del Rey (first-round loss)
--Real Murcia's current league form and position
--The structure of Spanish Football, and how a team in Grupo IV of Segundo Division B fits the Spanish pyramid (and how Barcelona's B team was promoted from Segundo Division B to La Liga 2 for this year)
--Real Murcia's summer transfer stats, and their last transfer of any note (Kike to Middlesbrough in 2014)
--Real Murcia's last run this far in the Copa del Rey (when they lost to Real Madrid in the fourth round in 2010/11)
--Murcia the city (it's the 7th largest municipality in Spain; tennis player Nicolas Almagro and cyclist Alejandro Valverde are both from there; etc.)
--Barcelona's lineup in the equivalent match of last year's Copa del Rey (a 1:1 draw at Hercules)
--Barcelona's 2-0 win in La Liga at Malaga on Saturday
--The current La Liga table
--Barcelona's Copa del Rey history (29 times the champion)
--The latest twists and turns in the Catalan independence saga

Do you think all of that might get me through to full time? :)

My co-commentator for the match is Lee Hendrie, by the way - 250 Premier League games played for Aston Villa between 1995 and 2006, and 1 cap for England (13 minutes as a sub vs. the Czech Republic). I've found myself researching my co-commentators a fair amount recently, actually - yesterday I learned that my KHL co-commentator (Paul) had 162 points in 70 games in the 1982/83 QMJHL season, the top Quebec junior hockey league. That was the fifth-best points total of anyone in the league that year...which is pretty impressive when you consider that three of the four guys ahead of him were Pat LaFontaine (1st), Mario Lemieux (3rd) and Sylvain Turgeon (4th).
 
Surprisingly, I rather enjoyed that match tonight. Barcelona played this XI...

Arnaiz Alcacer Deulofeu
Denis Andre Gomes Alena
Digne Vermaelen Mascherano Semedo
Cillessen

...with Rakatic and Sergi Roberto coming into the match off the bench, so quite a reasonable squad. For much of the match, Real Murcia parked a back row of five behind a midfield row of four, but they surged forward more often than I expected, and on another night they might have scored two or three goals. Instead, Barca got the three goals to kill the tie off: a nice looping header by Alcacer, an ice-cool finish by Deulofeu (which I described exactly thusly in my commentary), and a thunderbastard by Arnaiz (which I didn't describe thusly in my commentary). I got one or two things wrong, but I worked my facts into the broadcast well and teed up Lee Hendrie nicely several times; all of the research I did really paid off.

Two goofy things did happen regarding the broadcast:

1) The teamsheets we received only had a number "2" down as one of the Real Murcia players, with no name attached. The same thing happened for "37" for Barca, but I knew that was Arnaiz, whereas until about 10 minutes before the match started, I didn't know who "2" for Murcia was, because of course they have no squad numbers. When I did eventually catch the name, it was something "Martinez"...but while I had researched Xiscu Martinez, this player had a different first name, and his age was different to Xiscu's (off by one year). They *might* have been the same player, but I resolved to just call him "Martinez" and hope I didn't have to impart any extra information, and luckily enough, I didn't.

2) We started our transmission ridiculously late - like, less than 90 seconds before the kickoff. In fact, as we went live, the Barcelona teamsheet graphic was still up on the screen and about to be removed. So it was impossible to properly introduce the two teams, or even my co-commentator, before the match got underway. Not sure how that happened, but I'd certainly rather have a chance to properly set the scene before a match, even if I have to do more work scripting and preparing that opening in doing so.

Anyway, now I have the email address of a former England international in my computer, which feels rather weird to say - Lee is working with me on the Milan-Juventus game on Saturday as well, which should have much more drama and importance about it. I definitely felt like I needed to work much harder in preparing for soccer than I do for hockey (or the NFL), but doing my research on the day today rather than further in advance helped keep everything fresh in my head. I'm probably just as scared about Milan-Juve as I was about tonight, but as long as I put the hours in on Thursday and Friday, everything should be OK in the end.
 
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I just realized I called something "a Cruyff turn" in last night's match that wasn't a Cruyff turn at all. So someone out there probably thinks I'm a complete soccer idiot. Oh well...can't be helped.

I meant to mention...while walking through the corridors of the studio yesterday I bumped into NFL Producer Phil, who was poring over the Week 8 schedule with one or two of his minions. (Since before the start of the NFL season, printouts of the schedule for every week have been plastered on a wall near the two editing bays on the commentary floor, and in addition to being a handy resource, staffers have stuck post-it notes up on the wall around the schedule sheets with their outlandish predictions for the season, which is kinda fun.) They were debating which game we should present on Sunday, pending availability for selection: it certainly doesn't look like we'll have a late game available to us, given that a) there are only two of them, and b) Houston-Seattle and Dallas-Washington are arguably the two most interesting games of the week. So that bumps us back to the early slot, and Phil was narrowing in on two possible choices: Bears-Saints, and (gulp) Falcons-Jets. Which of those two games do you think is more interesting and/or watchable - i.e., if you were a network producer and had to pick one of those two games to show to your audience, which one would you choose?
 
Er, never mind - we've just received the Bell Canada game assignments, and our final choice is between Panthers-Bucs and Niners-Eagles. Yuck...I guess that's what can happen when six teams are on a bye. I guess I can ask the same question, though: given those two choices, which game would you choose to present? A great NFC team in a potential blowout, or two middling teams for whom a loss on Sunday could be a dagger? (I know the answer this time - our choice is already made - but let me know what you think before I give the answer away.)
 

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I'd go for Niners-Eagles because the game features a really good team, and there is always the possibility of an upset.
 

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I'd go Panthers-Bucs. Cam Newton is always a draw, and the Bucs are as good as average for the first time in five years. Plus, divisional game. Neither team has the offense to make a blowout remotely likely.

Whereas the most likely outcome for 49ers-Eagles is a blowout - the line is 12.5, against one of the most popular teams in the league.
 
I guess those are the two opposing arguments, aren't they? In the end, we've gone with Niners-Eagles, in part for an ancillary reason: apparently the Niners have a sizeable Canadian fanbase. Hopefully we get the Weeks 2-6 version of San Francisco and not Week 1 or Week 7.

Meanwhile, I had a wonderfully exciting KHL game to end my latest Leeds trip: Jokerit (second-best record in the KHL) played Barys Astana (team of the KHL's top goal-scorer, Nigel Dawes). Jokerit led 1-0 before two late second-period goals, one from Dawes, gave Astana a surprising 2-1 lead. That lead held until 18 seconds were left, when Jokerit found a 6-on-5 equalizer, so we went to OT. Barys were playing their second-choice goalie, Sergei Kudryavtsev, and he made a wonderful double save in OT to keep his team alive, and then a minute later Dawes went down the other end and scored the winner. I was properly screaming in overtime, particularly for that second Kudryavtsev save, and when the game finished - around 7 p.m. - and I left the booth, I became aware that all of the guys in for their soccer commentaries last night would have heard me yelping like a loon. In particular, I met Iain Dowie in the booth behind me (he has a very firm handshake), and I wondered if Dowie et al. might think I call my soccer goals the same way I call my hockey goals, which isn't the case at all. Because I might have to work with some of these guys someday...and I wonder if there's a natural bias on their part to think that Englishmen are more natural soccer commentators than a Yank like me. I guess I'll cross that bridge when and if I come to it.
 
I knew today was going to be a difficult day for me - having just completed an intense trip, I could do with a bit of time to myself and to attend to some domestic duties. So I was kinda dreading getting to work on my preparations for Milan-Juventus on Saturday, and I did indeed start rather slowly. But talk about manna from heaven: I was just sent two files from Opta with 27 pages between them of stats, facts and tactical insight about the match. What a blessing, to get all of this and only have to sift through and compile elements of this rather than having to prepare it all from scratch myself.

I have always suspected - without knowing for sure - that the further up the ladder you get in the commentary world, the less prep work you yourself actually have to do. Part of my "me time" this morning involved watching the 9th, 10th and 11th innings of last night's Astros-Dodgers game on MLB At Bat, and Joe Buck was reciting stats at the end of the game that he himself can't have researched himself - and I'm almost certain someone in the production team at Fox will be feeding him this information in the moment (i.e., he's not flipping through a huge dossier to find the one stat he needs). This isn't to say that Buck doesn't come prepared for the games he calls, but rather to note that he has a much larger support system around him to help him get ready and to sound smart. It's nice to feel like I have a bit of that helping me out as well!
 
I just got my call sheet for the Milan-Juventus match tomorrow, and I've discovered that Conor McNamara will be the presenter. Conor is a very experienced soccer commentator for the BBC, which makes me at least a little more nervous...on experience and ability, he should certainly be calling the match and not doing the pregame/halftime/postgame stuff! Oh well, nothing like having the screw turned a little tighter - it's good motivation for me to make sure all of my prep work is up to scratch.
 
Turns out, Conor McNamara is a really lovely guy, and I think this may have been his first time presenting a match - he's usually traveling around England, going to Premier League and Champions League matches in person, and has rarely if ever worked off-tube - and I think the fact that he was on somewhat unfamiliar ground as well helped put me slightly more at ease. I was also reminded that he's part of the BBC's golf commentary team on radio for the Open Championship and the Ryder Cup, and he shared a funny story that involved Paul Lawrie missing a putt at the Open, stalking off the green and upbraiding Conor for describing it as a left-to-right putt when it was actually right-to-left.

As my first gallery game, it was quite a weird experience: Conor, Lee Hendrie and I were all working out of the same commentary booth. So, at the end of the pregame show - involving Conor and Lee but not me - I had 45 seconds to switch places and headsets with Conor and settle in for the start of the match. That's not really conducive to my preferred preparation patterns! And the same thing happened at the start and end of halftime, and then again at the very end of the match. I actually logged onto a separate computer in a different commentary booth in case I needed to do anything during the halftime interval, as my computer in my booth was inaccessible. (Interestingly, there's another gallery production still going on - the Anthony Joshua title fight and its undercard are being shown, I think for something like 4-5 hours in total from start to finish. Happy not to be involved in that one!)

We had two technical glitches to face this time. The worse one: at halftime, when the director spoke into my and Lee's ears to let us know we would be heading to our short ad/promo break, a really loud, bass-heavy throbbing sound accompanied his direction, and it was really off-putting for me. For Conor, it was of course much worse, as he had to rely upon the director to know when one graphic was segueing into the next VT segment, and he could only hear that with some difficulty. He just about managed, but it was bad enough that we briefly considered changing commentary rooms. The other glitch didn't affect the broadcast, but rather the highlights being cut from the match: for some reason, our Dreamcatcher machine was picking up the French commentary version of the match for the first 30-40 minutes, which meant that I needed to go back after the match and re-voice a brief match introduction and also Juve's first goal.

As for my commentary...let's just say I was punching the air at regular intervals throughout my walk back to my hotel room. I've listened to both of my goal calls maybe 15-20 times, the former because I wanted to exactly repeat what I'd said in the first place when I re-voiced the goal highlight, and the latter because I loved both of my calls of the goals. Gonzalo Higuain scored both goals - both very good goals as well, worth seeking out if you're into that sort of thing - and for the first one, I went with a basic "Dybala...Higuain...Higua-EEEEEEN! Class from Gonzalo Higuain! One-nil to Juventus." It was the exact combination of American enthusiasm and British understatement I'm aiming for, really. Also, I started to say it was Higuain's 100th Serie A goal just as the director spoke in my ear to say it was his 100th Serie A goal, so my words just preceded the graphic he put on the screen, which worked nicely. As for the second goal, here's the transcript: "Nicely done by Dybala - took that down very well, and Asamoah charges up the left wing. Has Mandzukic in space but goes infield for Dybala, who leaves it for Higuain - chance here for Higua-EEN! He scores AGAIN! Beautifully done - maybe even better than the first finish for Higuain! It's 101 goals now in Serie A - and it's two-nil for Juve." Really happy with the flow of that call and the way I delivered it as well. I'll need to find a way to record at least the goal calls out and add them to my clip file; hopefully I can share them here at some point.

So now I'm in my hotel room, watching a stream of the Notre Dame-NC State game (and possibly jumping to Ohio State-Penn State in due course) and getting read to do some NFL prep for tomorrow and/or hockey prep ahead of my CHL trip to Vienna on Tuesday. It's been a good day.
 
I've had a chance to come into the office early and clip out the two goal calls from last night broadcasts - have a listen:


As mentioned, I like this one for its simplicity, and also for how I'd just been talking about Dybala and the need to get balls into the front two of Dybala and Higuain - no sooner had I said that than Pjanic (the one player unmentioned in this move, simply because I couldn't see his shirt number or recognise his face clearly enough) played the ball into Dybala, who found Higuain, who found the back of the net.


The one thing I wish I'd stressed here was its fantastic quality as a team goal, and not just as an individual strike: the move started from Buffon at the back and was just brilliantly constructed starting with Dybala's control and wide pass out to Asamoah. But that aside, I love the flow of my call, and how I referenced it being Higuain's 101st Serie A goal just after he made a "1-0-1" hand gesture. (Ironically, it took me at least 10 viewings of those hand gestures after the match before I figured out that's what he was doing; I just said that for effect, on the basis that Higuain won't rest on his laurels and is now looking to start a second century of goals in Serie A, but maybe the gesture subconsciously connected with me somehow.)
 
Just to bring me back down to earth somewhat, I didn't have the best of NFL days yesterday. I mean, I did fine, but there was one moment at the start of the postgame show where I actually stumbled upon saying my own name (reading it off a script) - I had a small laugh about it. And at the end of the pregame show, we got kinda screwed by Fox when they cut straight from a sideline shot of Pam Oliver to the opening kickoff being launched into the air - I was filling airtime waiting for the game to start, and then suddenly I had to abruptly stop and introduce the announcers, and we missed showing the kickoff until it was being caught in the end zone. (Next time that happens, we'll get off our holding graphic faster and cut to the start of the game even if I'm still talking.) I want to be perfect, so anything short of that is disappointing.

My drive back north saw the main motorway I was going to take - the M1 - closed for one exit almost immediately after I got on, and I found myself driving back into Leeds for the diversion, which was kinda depressing. And now I'm sitting at Edinburgh Airport, with my flight late in boarding and me with a real chance of missing my connecting flight in Cologne to Vienna. There is a later Austrian Airlines flight which I assume I could hop onto instead, but we'll see.

Meanwhile, in today's burst of CHL-related insanity: I got an email from my main contact at the production company in charge of the entire Champions Hockey League television production (my producer's boss, as it were, on this project) saying that the BBC has acquired the rights to show both legs of the Nottingham Panthers-ZSC Zurich Round of 16 matchup, and that I would have my game switched to that game tomorrow. I'd just finished all of my extensive prep for SC Bern v Red Bull Munich this morning, and now I'm being asked to change games...and also be on the BBC? I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I did suggest to my producer that perhaps we'd be better off keeping things as they were, and the English commentator we'd assigned to the other game protested even more strongly against the change when he was informed of it (and before he knew of the BBC's involvement); anyway, to make a long story short, we're back to the original lineup, at least for this week. Probably just as well, although maybe I'll get on the Beeb next week.