MLB Network Sweeps Across Arizona, Florida With 30 Clubs in 30 Days
With Major League Baseball in the heart of spring training and Opening Day just a couple of weeks away, MLB Network is in midseason form, churning out loads of new, original content, such as MLB Tonight, Intentional Talk, and Clubhouse Confidential.
But, if it’s March in the home of baseball, that means one thing: the whirlwind tour that is 30 Clubs in 30 Days.
After completing a swing through all the teams that train in Arizona, MLB Network is now in Florida, having kicked off its Grapefruit League coverage yesterday with the debut of the Atlanta Braves’ 30 Clubs in 30 Days episode and continuing tonight at 8 p.m. with the premiere of the Miami Marlins.
In this, the fourth year of 30 Clubs in 30 Days, MLB Network has made some critical alterations to the show, including using analysts on-site as opposed to anchors and reporters as in years past.
“It has really changed the whole dimension of the show,” says Tom Guidice, director of remote operations at MLB Network. “The rapport the current players have with the past players is great, and we’re getting a lot more great footage than we have from past years. Sending them out makes us actually feel like we are inside that camp. That kind of access is hard to get with the reporters.”
With the analysts in camp, the show has also added player demo segments ranging from tutorials with current players to the analysts’ getting in on the action, such as Harold Reynolds’s taking groundballs with the infielders at Mariners’ camp.
It’s of little surprise that the biggest challenge in pulling off a series of the caliber of 30 Clubs in 30 Days is scheduling. Jumping from camp to camp and producing hour-long episodes every day leaves the production team little room for error.
“Because we’re in the camps for only two days, we have to make sure the teams are home back-to-back,” says Guidice. “So when we get there on the day ones, we try to bang out all of the interviews and segments we want to do, and usually, on day two, it’s basically just more B-rolls, other interviews, and then our two-ways back with the studio. Logistically, the scheduling is the most important thing we have to deal with.”
The network’s production team is working out of MetroVision Ku-band trucks — one each in Arizona and Florida — and operates under two transmission windows (in the morning and afternoon), with work on each episode overlapping with the next.
“We want to get as much footage as we can get back in each shot so they can get a head start editing that back here [in Secaucus, NJ],” says Guidice.
Though prerecorded, all 30 Clubs in 30 Days episodes are taped as if they are live, with each segment filmed, including the back-and-forth shots between site and studio, in order.
Typically, the crews are finished taping on-site by 11:30 a.m. or noon in Arizona, which means that, by midafternoon in the East, the episode is all but completed. That episode will then premiere the following day.
For the viewer, the show retains its interactive flair. Fans have the opportunity to submit questions for MLB Network analysts to ask players and managers during the series via #30Clubs30Days on Twitter and Facebook. One fan-submitted question is included in each episode.
MLB Network has also launched its first-ever page on Tumblr, which will be updated throughout spring training with photos, videos, quotes, and information from 30 Clubs in 30 Days and Intentional Talk.
MLB Network’s 30 Clubs in 30 Days continues through April 3. Click here for the complete schedule of premiere dates for each episode and for an archive of those that have already aired.