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BASEBALL PLAYOFFS : STEVE SPRINGER / ON THE MEDIA

TBS: Not just home of Braves

October 01, 2008|STEVE SPRINGER

A year ago, Turner Sports dived into postseason baseball without so much as warming up in the bullpen.

"It was like trying to start a car in winter," said TBS producer Tim Kiely.

It wasn't as if the company didn't know its way around a diamond. TBS, after all, had been doing Atlanta Braves games for 30 years.

But still, for a general public used to dealing with the broadcast networks and ESPN in the postseason, it was disconcerting.

This season, the novelty should have worn off, especially since TBS, in the second year of a seven-year deal with Major League Baseball, has been telecasting a game of the week all season.

All division-series games will be on TBS, as will the American League Championship Series. TBS and Fox alternate the second round of the postseason with Fox getting the NLCS this year.

There will be seven new faces behind the TBS microphones: Dennis Eckersley, John Smoltz, Ron Darling, Buck Martinez, Harold Reynolds, Brian Anderson and Tom Verducci.

Darling and Verducci will join play-by-play man Dick Stockton and analyst Tony Gwynn to form the broadcast crew for the Dodgers-Chicago Cubs series beginning today (3:30 p.m.) at Wrigley Field.

Chip Caray will handle play-by-play for the Angels-Boston Red Sox series beginning tonight in Anaheim at 7. Martinez will be his analyst, with Craig Sager serving as the roaming reporter.

Outfielders used to complain about losing fly balls coming out of the white-shirted background behind home plate. Few wear white shirts these days, but trying to pick a fly ball out of the glare caused by Sager's rainbow wardrobe might prove even more challenging.

The good news for those leery of listening to Stockton or Caray is that the Dodgers and Angels radio broadcasts (790 for the Dodgers, 830 for the Angels) will be on as usual.

Stockton or Vin Scully? You make the call.

Along with game coverage, TBS will feature a studio program it hopes can rival the NBA show on its sister outlet, TNT.

That's quite a challenge. Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith host the best basketball show on television. It's a can't-miss production, even for the players.

Johnson returns for the baseball version, joined by Eckersley, Cal Ripken Jr. and Curtis Granderson.

Unless they can find a way to lure Charles over. Ripken or Barkley? You make the call.

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steve.springer@latimes.com

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