Fans watching the 2022 postseason are closer to the game and the players than ever before, thanks to broadcast innovations like this: "In The Moment" dugout interviews with MLB stars right after their game-changing plays.
"It's interesting. It's different," said Phillies slugger Rhys Hoskins, who did an "In The Moment" interview after his clutch three-run homer in Game 3 of the NLDS against the Braves. "We're not really used to that type of sideline, mid-game interview. It's a cool thing though, for the fans."
You'll see even more when the Phillies face the Astros in the World Series. The postseason dugout interviews are, in essence, an extension of the "mic'd up" style of on-the-field player interviews fans got to see on FOX's All-Star Game broadcast, ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball games and more this season. They'll help make the best players in baseball more visible than ever on the sport's biggest stage.
"There's a lot of star power in this postseason," MLB senior vice president of broadcasting Ryan Zander said. "So far, it's just been such a great complement to how the games have played out."
The "In The Moment" segments are new for the FOX playoff game broadcasts this year, and they've captured the biggest highlights of the postseason in a never-before-seen way, especially with players like Harper and Hoskins being interviewed in the aftermath of dramatic home runs.
After those homers -- or a highlight-reel defensive play, or a dominant pitching performance -- Ken Rosenthal is waiting in the dugout, ready to get the player's thoughts on their performance.
The result is a unique look behind the scenes at the biggest plays and games of the year from the best players in baseball, surrounded by a live postseason game atmosphere.
"You get a little bit of insight into some of the immediate thought processes," Hoskins said. "And also, just what it's like in the dugout after something big goes on in the game. It's good for the game."
"In The Moment" interviews are part of a whole slate of brand-new enhancements to baseball broadcasts this postseason -- also including new camera angles and types of video footage.
Here are the new features you might have noticed from tuning into 2022 postseason games.
- "In The Moment" interviews
- Drone footage from above the ballparks
- A camera that travels up and down each foul line on a wire
- A camera walking the batter to the plate before an at-bat
- A camera behind the pitcher while he warms up
- A camera in fair territory capturing players rounding the bases after a home run
"This has been, I think, a breakthrough year with player access for us," Zander said.
Go back to Harper's go-ahead home run in the eighth inning of the deciding game of the NLCS, for example. Watch his home run trot on the broadcast. As he rounds third base, heads for home and crosses the plate, the TV cameraperson is following him from fair territory, letting fans watch the home run from a cinematic, field-level point of view. You can even see the Philadelphia fans behind Harper, celebrating.
Then, after that unique view of Harper's home run, you get the unique "In The Moment" interview of Harper from the Phillies dugout, where he explains how he knew Padres reliever Robert Suarez was going to throw him a fastball, and what he was thinking after the biggest swing of his career: "Man, I just did that."
How do moments like that come about during a live sporting event?
"In The Moment" interviews are a collaboration between MLB, FOX and the clubs. This season, as the postseason approached, FOX approached MLB with the idea, and the league brought the idea to the teams.
"What they really wanted to do was be able to capture an authentic moment right after something positive happened," Zander said. "To get a reaction right then and there, which is something that we historically haven't really done. In fact, I don't know a lot of sports that are actually doing that. So we felt it was a great idea."
MLB discussed examples with FOX of the types of plays that would feature the interviews -- the homers, the defensive gems, the ace pitching performances -- and coordinated with the clubs on ground rules for only highlighting positive moments, so the players would be willing to do the in-game interviews, and for getting the TV sideline reporter into the dugout at appropriate times.
During the final Mets-Braves series of the regular season, on FOX's Saturday game broadcast on Oct. 1, MLB and the network tested the concept. With the mechanics worked out, they debuted "In The Moment" for the postseason in FOX's National League games.
"That was definitely a first, but when it's quick like that, it's awesome," said the Padres' Josh Bell, who was interviewed after one of his home runs. "I was, like, pacing back and forth. ... I was coming back from the cage, and I got stopped right there in the corner of the dugout. I think anything that can bring more fans to the game, baseball players are going to be all for."
Right now, MLB is looking into conducting fan research to see the response to the "In The Moment" interviews. But with players and teams buying in, it looks promising.
"It's been great," Zander said. "I think it showcases our brightest stars on the biggest stage, in moments right after something pivotal happens within the game. It's something that you typically don't see in a live sporting event, to allow that level of access."
Looking forward to next season and the future, you could see this in-game style of dugout interview more frequently, in more games than just MLB Jewel Events like the Postseason and All-Star Game, on more networks, and with an even wider variety of teams and players from across the league.
"I think this going to be a real positive for the game, to get more exposure of our players to our fans," Zander said. "We plan to expand this to any broadcaster and club that will participate. We're hopeful that will be a lot more."