Bizarre world of baseball

Hi there – Jeff Scott here.  The great thing about working on This Week In Baseball is precisely what the name of the show implies – every week we get to experience another week of baseball.  Now that wouldn’t be much fun if the game followed a rigid path night after night like some other sports we’ve come to know and love.  But baseball is so bizarre, any day – any moment – you might see something that you’ve never seen before – or only once in a blue moon.   Consider that for the first 16 years that TWIB was on the air not a single Major League player recorded an unassisted triple play (UTP).  Then, in 1992, Mickey Morandini turned one for the Phillies.  Since then there have been five more UTP’s – all duly noted on TWIB — culminating with this week’s pure hat trick by Asdrubal Cabrera of the Cleveland Indians.  Six in 17 years is a veritable onslaught considering that there have been just 14 UTP’s in the history of Major League Baseball.  And to drive home the point of just how bizarre baseball can be, we need only to follow the UTP path leading up to Morandini.  The first two unassisted triple plays – like the latest – were both recorded by Cleveland Indians – Neal Ball in 1909 and Bill (I’d Like to Buy a Vowel) Wambsganss in 1920.   But just when Cleveland thought it had cornered the market on these fielding gems, Boston unleashed a single season assault – with George Burns of the Red Sox and Ernie Padgett of the Boston Braves each notching an unassisted triple play in 1923.  And after George Wright of the Pirates recorded the fifth ever UTP in 1925, things really started to get strange.  On May 30th, 1927, Jimmy Cooney of the Cubs turned baseball’s sixth ever unassisted triple play.  The very next day, Johnny Neun of the Tigers got the seventh.  Five UTP’s since the beginning of baseball life as we know it and then two on back-to-back days!  Amazing!  Obviously the strain of witnessing this most rare of baseball feats twice within 24 hours was way too much for the baseball gods, for it took 41 years before we got our next unassisted triple play – by Ron Hansen of the Washington Senators in 1968.  Which brings us back to Mickey Morandini and eventually to Asdrubal Cabrera of the Indians – the team that started this whole UTP craze.  It also brings us back to TWIB.  Due to the advent of 24 hour sports networks, bottom of the screen scrolls and the internet/wireless world, we no longer have to show you all the highlights from each week in baseball.   You’ve already been there and seen that.  But we still make sure that there is always room for the stuff that comes out of nowhere – the magical moments that remind us why baseball is such a cool sport.  So you will see Cabrera’s unassisted triple play on the May 17th episode of TWIB as our XM Radio Call of the Week – and again as one of the great plays in How ’bout That.  Just keep in mind, when you watch it, that you might not see its like again for the next 50 years.  Or, maybe tomorrow.  
 
Jeff Scott
Senior Writer
MLB Productions
 

TWIB theme music

Hi there – Jeff Scott here. There are themes to television shows that I
grew up watching in the ’60s that are still rattling around in my head
as if I heard them just yesterday. For instance:


There’s a holdup in the Bronx, Brooklyn’s broken out in fights,
There’s a traffic jam in Harlem that’s backed up to Jackson Heights,
There’s a scout troop short a child, Khrushchev’s due in Idlewild,
Car 54 Where Are You?

I will spare you the lyrics to The Patty Duke Show, Branded, The Addams Family and Green Acres, but they are all still in my brain too. Even instrumental intros like the ones for Combat, The Rifleman, Bonanza and Mission Impossible
still resonate loud and clear. Television people put a lot more
emphasis on opening and closing theme songs back then. Consider that
today, the enduring theme of 24 is five pulsing beats, Law & Order is two clanging beats, and Lost
just one lonely beat.

Which brings us to TWIB. Despite the fact that
the show has undergone myriad changes throughout the years, both the
opening and closing music are pretty much exactly as you first heard
them in June of 1977. They are iconic — as much a part of our culture
as the (instrumental) opening music to Monday Night Football and the old Wide World of Sports
theme. You simply can’t imagine TWIB without the “Da Da” at the
beginning and the “Dum De De Dum” at the end. The open theme –
originally called “Jet Set” — was written by Mike Vickers sometime in
the early ’70s and was put on vinyl for use through Associated
Production Music (APM). The vinyl gave it that warm ’70s tone.
Following some slight variations throughout the years, MLB Productions
music maven, Jam Master Jon Nanberg, contacted a London based composer
named Bill Bayliss to do a remix of the early ’70s version in 2003. He
added a few modern components but stayed true to what made the original
sound so great. His version is the one you hear leading off our show
today. By the way, Mike Piazza does an awesome a cappella rendition of
it that we’ve featured in the show a number of times.

The closing theme
– also owned by APM – was written in 1974 by John Scott (no relation)
and was entitled “Gathering Crowds.” This inspiring string composition
became so identifiable with TWIB that when APM repackaged the song in a
1994 compilation they renamed it “Major League Baseball (America).” We
have heard from many folks who have recorded this song off the air and
used it in their weddings. I presume they use it after the ceremony
when everyone practically runs back down the aisle and not for the
entrance, when the bridal party has to do that “one step — two step”
shuffle while trying desperately not to move too fast.

I love the
closing theme of TWIB and have made it my goal in life to ensure that
the final note always hits precisely when the MLB logo ends. Obviously
it doesn’t take much to make me happy. Apparently Bill Simmons – aka
“The Sports Guy” of ESPN.com fame, agrees. He once made a list of the
six top non-movie sports themes from his childhood that still get him
fired up and he rated the TWIB closing theme song as his number one
favorite of all time. And Mark Bechtel, in his July 6, 2005 Daily Blog
for SI.com, rated the TWIB closing music the greatest sports theme song
of all time. Said Mark, “There was no way you could listen to that
music… and not get fired up for your afternoon Wiffle Ball game or
Little League practice.” That’s TWIB — all access, motivational music.

If you too have an affinity for the TWIB music and have been likewise
inspired by it, let us know by sending a TWIB note of your own to twib@mlb.com. Thanks.

To return to the twib main page: twib.mlb.com

People and process behind TWIB

Hi there – Jeff Scott here – with a little inside info on This Week In
Baseball as we begin our 31st season. It’s an all male staff of
producers this year – at least so far – and that is certainly more a
coincidence than by design. A couple of years ago Meredith Eckert was
our lead producer and she was great – but then she had a beautiful baby
boy named Kai and she went away. Last year, Allison Potocki co-produced
the show with her husband James and she was awesome – but then she had
a beautiful baby boy named Alex – and she went away. Many of our best
pieces these last few years have been produced by Kristen Snyder – who
was wonderful – but then she had a baby boy which, strangely enough,
she also named Alex – and she went away. So it’s by attrition – rather
than decision – that we open the year with a bunch of guys cutting the
pieces. The good news is that all of these fabulous females have either
returned to work or will by the all-star break – and the TWIB staff
always changes as the year goes by anyway — so this impromptu boys
club will soon go away.

AVyx22SX.jpg
Chelsea Market, home of MLB Productions and MLB Advanced Media (Jay Burke/MLB.com)

My goal here will be to provide you with an inside look at the people and the process behind TWIB – some of which you might even find interesting. For instance, we create the show on the fifth and sixth floors of The Chelsea Market, which is located in the way too trendy
Meatpacking District of Manhattan. The building is enormous -
stretching from Ninth to Tenth Avenues and from 15th to 16th street. It
began as the first Nabisco factory and produced the very first Oreo
cookie. Now it is home to myriad businesses, shops and cafes – many law
enforcement operations – New York 1 – The Food Network – MLB Advanced
Media – and us, Major League Baseball Productions.

The composition of the show is done entirely in this building (other
than the field shoots of course). Most producers start cutting their
pieces on Monday and we finish the video portion of the show by
Thursday night. Friday morning we record our narrator, Buzz Brainard,
by ISDN line (he lives in L.A. – more on Buzz and his comfy studio at a
later date) – and spend the rest of the day mixing the sound and
applying all the finishing touches to the video (fonts, dates, color
correction, etc.) By 6 PM the show is beamed up into space and on
Saturday it appears on your local Fox affiliate. And then we do it all
again.

I’ll get a bit more detailed in future weeks but that’s the gist of the
making of TWIB. So tune in on Saturday and let us know what you think
by sending a TWIB note of your own to twib@mlb.com. Thanks.

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