After being the only regional sports network to send its broadcasters to road games in the first half of the MLB season, Marquee Sports Network is planning to travel for roughly half of the Cubs’ trips in the second half.
“The driver of our situation is to be safe and health-conscious wherever we can, so we can’t justify making every road trip,” Marquee general manager Mike McCarthy said. “There are some realities to some of the cities that the Cubs go to that make it difficult to contemplate traveling the announcers.
“It’s not, as some suggested, budget-related or tone-deafness about what makes or doesn’t make a good broadcast. There’s some realities that some cities are easier for our situation that we want to pull off with technology than others are.”
Marquee sent Jon “Boog” Sciambi and Jim Deshaies to Milwaukee in June and Chris Myers and Deshaies to Cincinnati in July. Both cities are home to RSNs in the Bally Sports network, owned by Sinclair, which jointly owns Marquee.
The Cubs’ road trip that starts Friday is to Phoenix and St. Louis. Both cities also are home to a Bally Sports RSN, but Marquee might travel only to St. Louis, if at all. The Chicago Department of Public Health added Missouri to its travel advisory list this week “amid an increase in COVID-19 cases.”
“Sometimes if it’s challenging, you have to make decisions,” McCarthy said. “I don’t think anybody would question whether we understand the value [of traveling]. We can only do it where we can do it. It’s a daily evolving situation. We’re going to do it as often as we can within parameters.”
Sciambi has been outspoken about his desire to travel.
“Whether fans care or not, my being at the ballpark and having access to the players enhances your viewing experience. I’m telling you it does,” he said. “I’m going to deliver and we as a network are going to deliver a better product, and ultimately the league needs to get involved because we’re delivering their product.
“So at a certain point the league needs to say to all these RSNs, ‘Hey, you need to get out on the road and start telling these stories,’ because if they keep locking people in broom closets to make the broadcasting better, it’s going to negatively impact how people experience the sports and we will feel it.”
Said McCarthy: “He knows that the passion is shared. You want guys to push the envelope. You want people to be demanding and exacting about perfection. And he is.
“As I say to Boog all the time, ‘There’s this pandemic. It’s in all the papers.’ “