MLB All-Star 2021: Entertainment Will Be the Focus of Game Sound
Player mics, even a bullpen phone will be in the submix
This year’s MLB All-Star Game is a showcase for the best of the league’s talent and its newest faces as well. Viewers will see action from freshmen like Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr., and Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers and shortstop Xander Bogaerts. But there’s another new kid in town: Joel Groeblinghoff, who has submixed effects for baseball on ESPN and other sports, including the XFL, will be submixing his first MLB All-Star Game, for Fox Sports.
“I’m the new guy on this game,” he says. “I’ve mixed plenty of baseball, including the World Series, but there’s something extra special about the All-Star Game. It’s the best of the best.”
Groeblinghoff is picking up the submix reins from Bob Qua, who for the past 20 years partnered with A1 Joe Carpenter on the midseason classic and retired this year.
Groeblinghoff comes into the game like a fourth-inning reliever, although, instead of men on base, he’ll be looking at microphones on walls: PCC transducers mounted on the outfield walls around the edge of Denver’s Coors Field (which is hosting this year’s game after the MLB commissioner pulled it from Atlanta in the wake of Georgia’s passage of strict new voter-suppression laws). He’ll also work with a dense mic plot of at least 14 transducers around the bases and across the infield apron, right up the edge of the grass, along with mics in the bases themselves. Also, four manned parabolic microphones will be installed on the sidelines and in foul territory.
“Bob had a lot of sound sources in front of him,” Groeblinghoff says. “I’m going to fill his shoes as best I can.”
He’ll also be working from a different location. Qua mixed from the broadcast booth in the stadium, and Groeblinghoff will be in Game Creek’s Encore C unit, much closer to Carpenter in the same truck’s B unit. However, like Qua, Groeblinghoff will use a Calrec Brio console, while Carpenter drives a Calrec Apollo for the main mix.
But Groeblinghoff will have his own new sources to work with tonight: including more player microphones than the six used in the past, some fitted with IFBs to allow conversation between players and announcers. Most notable this year could be the bullpen phone, which Carpenter says the league has granted permission for him to tap into.
“We’ve been trying to get that one for the last 10 years,” says Carpenter, gleefully, adding that a microphone will be placed next to the speaker in the bullpen phone line to listen in as managers prep relievers and their coaches about what is needed to get out of jams.
Another new wrinkle, which still awaits a green light, is to put field reporter Ken Rosenthal’s player interviews into the stadium PA system.
“We’ve been trying to add more entertainment-style things into the audio mix for years,” says Carpenter, quipping, “This will make the stadium into one big TV set.”
Groeblinghoff is a fan of the game as well as a technician. “You don’t get a lot of guys running into the walls in the All-Star Game, understandably,” he points out, “but you do get a lot of great hitting and pitching and fielding. I’m looking forward to it.”