With its broadcast of the MLB Draft today, ESPN now airs all the major sports drafts (the NHL Draft isn't major as it's on Versus - if you can find the channel - and do you know who Patrick Kane and Angelo Esposito are?). ESPN handled the draft well for the most part. They had a good cast of characters to talk about the draft, including Peter Gammons, Keith Law and Jim Callis. Steve Phillips was there, but when was the last time he had anything important to tell us? Karl Ravech was the host.
Ravech, Phillips and Law were on the main set, which was located close to the representatives for each club. There was no special design to the stage, just three leather-cushioned chairs and a few tables. Wow, did Ravech's table get messy. Papers were all over the place and I believe he had a problem finding a particular paper at one point. Keith Law was not with those three, though he played the part of Mel Kiper (minus the hair and the smugness). He did, however, attempt to imitate Kiper when Ravech asked him about the A's selection of James Simmons: "Shocked! Shocked! Shocked!" Of course, Law wasn't really shocked by the pick, but the way he said it made him come across as Kiper-sounding. Funny stuff.
Peter Gammons has a wealth of knowledge, and he had the best quote of the day: "Most people who talk about Moneyball have never read the book."
Jim Callis spends countless hours on the phones trying to get us the information we all crave, especially the night before the draft, and you could see the toll it took on him. Whenever he was on camera, I thought he was about to fall over due to lack of sleep. Get some sleep, Jim.
The five-minute clock is OK since it's not as long as the 15-minute one for the NFL (though that may change before the 2008 draft). The fast-paced nature of the MLB Draft is what made it unique among the other ones, but one-minute picks on TV are not good for advertisers. It took roughly 2.5 hours (2:10 ET to around 4:40 ET) to finish the first round, which wasn't terrible.
Like the NBA and NFL, the MLB one had some of the top prospects there to walk across the big stage, hold a jersey up and take a picture with Bud Selig. Selig also announced every first round pick; I already miss hearing Tommy Lasorda announce Dodgers draft picks.
Overall, it was a good first attempt at televising the draft, but I expect to see a few improvements next year.