FSN North's attempts to enhance its Twins telecasts this season will result in a change that might seem minor to viewers but has network officials excited. For the first time, clearance has been given to interview a Twins player immediately after a loss.
Traditionally, that has been a time when most big-league teams don't want players being rushed on camera. Baseball isn't the only sport that frowns on this. Members of the Timberwolves also don't appear on FSN North in the moments after a defeat -- insert your own joke here.
FSN has offered up reaction from the clubhouse in its postgame shows, but according to executive producer Jeff Byle, getting a player as he leaves the field is important.
"That's a strategic time for us to hold an audience and create time spent viewing," he said. "The idea for the postgame is to get fans an immediate response and get them something they can't get anywhere else. If you deliver a live interviews fans are more apt to stick around."
Andy Price, the Twins' director of broadcasting, was among those who sat in on an hour-plus meeting with manager Ron Gardenhire and various FSN officials to discuss this topic at TwinsFest in January. Gardenhire had his concerns.
"I was interested to hear what Gardy had to say," Price said. "This is a team game. Let's say you grab a guy who went 3-for-4 in a 5-4 loss and his teammates have the television on in the clubhouse and hear him talking about his great day. Is that the objective of what you're trying to do as a team? You can start ruffling feathers."
Price said it helped that former Twin and current FSN analyst Roy Smalley sat in on the meeting and offered up perspective from both sides. The ground rules of this experiment -- Byle explained there will be an "ongoing evaluation" of how it works -- will include leaving it up to the player requested to make the decision if he's comfortable talking.
The interviews usually will be conducted by FSN North's on-the-field reporters, a group that will include Smalley and former Twin Ron Coomer as well as Telly Hughes and Marney Gellner. Byle said it will be necessary to use "common sense" in the line of questioning. The slippery slope will be asking questions that interest viewers, while not offending the team.
Other baseball nuggets
• The idea to have Twins catcher Mike Redmond join radio analyst Dan Gladden from the dugout once a week during a game has been scrapped, but Price still has found a way to keep Redmond involved. Price's plan is to have the veteran go on live with Gladden once a week for about three minutes right before the first pitch. The Twins, beginning their second season on KSTP (1500 AM), also have restructured their postgame show a bit. The nightly interview with a coach is out, in favor of more reaction from the clubhouse.
• WFTC (Ch. 29), which will carry the Twins' opener Monday, will have an hourlong pregame starting at 5 p.m. Former Twins infielder and coach Al Newman will be part of the show.
• Byle wants field-level reporters Coomer and Smalley to join the conversation with play-by-play man Dick Bremer and analyst Bert Blyleven more frequently during games this season. Coomer will be part of FSN's first telecast on Tuesday night. The network also will attempt to have a Twins player wear a microphone for each Tuesday home game.
• The Twins' opener Monday will be one of 26 Spanish-language broadcasts carried on sister stations KMNV (1400 AM) and KMNQ (1470 AM). Every Sunday and Tuesday home game also will be aired in Spanish with Alfonso Fernandez and former Twin Tony Oliva calling the action.
• TBS, which will begin carrying a package of Sunday games this season and no longer will be a home for the Atlanta Braves, will have former big-leaguers Ron Darling and Buck Martinez rotate as its analysts. Chip Caray will be the primary play-by-play announcer.
• Former Vikings receiver Cris Carter is scheduled to make his ESPN debut next Thursday and Friday on the network's "NFL Live" program.
• Gellner and her husband, Matt Mathiasen, welcomed their first child, Grady Lyle, on Tuesday. Gellner is expected to be on maternity leave until early June.
• The series finale of "Minnesota Basketball: The Journey," which followed the Gophers men's basketball team, will air at 8 p.m. Tuesday on the Big Ten Network. For those who don't get the BTN but want to see the eight-part series, it will be available for purchase on the conference website: (www.bigtennetwork.com).
Judd Zulgad • firstname.lastname@example.org