clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Elephant Rumblings: Digging into Apple’s Friday Night Baseball A’s broadcast

MLB news roundup

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Seattle Mariners v Oakland Athletics Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images

It’s the weekend, Athletics Nation!

If you didn’t catch last night’s A’s game on the usual channel with Glen and Dallas you weren’t alone. Friday’s loss against the Rangers was part of the third week of Apple’s new Friday Night Baseball contract with MLB. As this was the sixth Apple broadcast we can dig a little into how these games differ from the norm, and what they could portend for the future of baseball on TV.

If this is all brand new to you, here’s a quick rundown: every Friday, Apple broadcasts two MLB games on their streaming service Apple TV+. While it is insinuated that these games will eventually become tied to the subscription cost, for now all games are free to watch for anyone in North America, as well as in Australia, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, and the UK, helping expand MLB’s reach. The games are viewable on Apple devices in the TV app, on the web at tv.apple.com, or on any TV or other smart device that has the Apple TV+ app.

Last night was the only A’s game on the current schedule, though they only have games through June listed right now. Looking at the broadcast, there is one major change that comes from Apple’s setup: fidelity. Depending on device and connection strength Friday Night Baseball is streamed in 4K quality, a luxury usually reserved for Fox’s postseason and All-Star game broadcasts. I have to say, if you’re equipped for it, the 4K broadcast is quite stunning and I can’t wait for it to become the norm. Sound is also of increased import to Apple, with surround sound available, as well as in-depth stadium mics picking up the ump’s calls crisply.

In the booth for the game last night were MLB Network’s Stephen Nelson, former Fox Sports and ESPN host Katie Nolan, and former player Hunter Pence. Heidi Watney served as the on-field reporter. While any national broadcast has to cover a lot of ground serving info to non-regular viewers of each team, things with this booth were still a bit hit-and-miss. Throughout the broadcast the team seemed to gel at times, but then banter would break down into longer silences. Not that I expect the rapport to be too tight when it’s three weeks into a weekly broadcast, but there seems to be an energy spike when they return from each break that slowly dies down through the inning.

As for the actual discussion of the Athletics, most topics that you’d expect to get covered came up: Cristian Pache’s defensive boost, Tony Kemp’s strong start at the plate, Sean Murphy’s butt. Nothing surprising, and the occasional tidbit or piece of player history that would pop up, but overall it was par for the course for a nationally broadcast game. I did appreciate the in-game interview with Mark Kotsay moving to a picture-in-picture view once game action began again.

As for other Apple specialities, there is a clean minimalistic design to their graphics, leaning into semi-transparent dark backgrounds evocative of their software design. I find the bottom-right corner probabilities a bit odd, as they didn’t always feel relevant or insightful to the current in-game situation.

Overall the broadcast isn’t terrible, it just feels like it could use some tightening up. If the A’s are included in another Friday Night Baseball game, I hope that things will be that much smoother and a little more energized.

A’s Coverage

MLB News & Interest

Best of Twitter

Amelia Schimmel and Rollie Fingers the Cat showing off the weekend giveaway

Phanatic downing dogs like he’s Joey Chestnut

A whole inning on the apple broadcast got spent in the Coli right field seats with the Oakland 68’s

Someone came ready to bash

Kap’s on the cusp!

An interesting thread on possible changes to the ball this season

Some great anniversaries and celebrations coming up this year

It ain’t rumblings without a does of Reba