Bucs’ Brown swings into season

While there are no questions about the lineup in the broadcast booth for the Pittsburgh Pirates this season, spring training still matters for the on-air team.

Greg Brown, about to begin his 20th season with the Pirates, anticipates games in Florida as a chance to get into a rhythm, learn about the team on the field and try out some new techniques.

He treats spring training in much the same way as the players.

“Just like them, we’ll probably be ready to go and get playing regular-season games after a couple of weeks, too,” Brown said. “Still, it’s an exciting time, and it’s important because we re-establish our cadence and the pace to what we do.”

After the offseason, Brown appreciates the opportunity that 31 games on radio and five on TV provide this spring.

He and his broadcast partners – play-by-play man Tim Neverett and analysts Steve Blass, Bob Walk and John Wehner – have plenty of time to organize their efforts.

In particular, Brown is trying out a different scorecard.

It’s an essential and sometimes quite personal resource for a broadcaster. For Brown, this season’s edition has the diagram of the field on the left side instead of the right.

Also, he likes a larger scorecard with more white space, which allows him to jot down notes.

Along with Brown, Walk also starts his 20th season with the team in 2013.

Wehner has been working Pirates games for nine seasons and Neverett five. Blass, the former pitcher and World Series champ, has been with the Pirates for 54 years.

Still, the self-effacing Brown has emerged as the voice of the team in many ways.

That means some extra official duties, but he’s not one who lords that position over anyone, especially listeners.

“I’m proud to have been here for 20 years, but we all bring our personalities to the broadcasts,” Brown said. “We’re all in it together. People do not want to hear you being miserable on the air, so we just work to make it fun and interesting.”

Tuner tidbits

n One of Brown’s early on-field observations has been the willingness of catcher Russell Martin to throw down to first base behind a runner, something the team’s catchers have not done with any regularity in recent seasons. “While you have to overlook meaningless things in spring, guys who put up big numbers who you know will not be a factor, things like that do offer some context,” Brown said.

n Fans used to finding auto racing on Speed Channel or other sports-related activities on Fuel will find those outlets rebranded as Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2 in the near future.

n Fans of former ESPN standout Michelle Beadle might be missing her since she moved to NBC Sports. Smart and talented, she’s more girl-next-door than typical TV sports eye candy. Unfortunately for her, even when she’s on TV many people are missing her these days. The show she co-hosts on NBC Sports Network, “The Crossover,” sometimes draws fewer than 20,000 viewers.

Steve Sampsell covers the broadcast side of sports. His column appears every other week. He’s also on Twitter@talkingtvsports, writes at www.talkingtvsports.com online, and may be contacted at talkingtvsports@gmail.com with comments and story ideas.