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How John DeMarsico Made SNY’s Broadcasts Go Viral

Towards the end of the Mets’ decisive win over division rival Atlanta on a troubling night at Citi Field in August, Edwin Diaz threw the final warm-up pitch, going from the right field bullpen to the mound. started the long, familiar journey of the 9th inning. But something extraordinary happened. Television broadcasts did not switch to commercials.

Instead, the camera followed behind Diaz as he walked through the bullpen door, burst into a jog, and crossed the outfield grass. The trumpets of Diaz’s beloved entrance song, “Narco,” were sent directly to the broadcast through the stadium’s public address system, making fans at home feel like they were watching the whole thing in person. Or maybe you were in a bullring in Spain. Anyway, I had chills.

The broadcast hype was designed and executed by John DeMarsico, 35, game director for SNY, the Mets’ regional sports network.

“We’ve covered him coming up before, but we’ve never blown a commercial break to show it all.” I never sent a camera crew out, I had it in my pocket all year long waiting for the right game.”

In that same game, Jacob deGrom returned to Citi Field after more than a year with serious arm and shoulder injuries. Skipped the ad break to indicate the warm-up pitch for the first inning. At that time, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” was piped to the broadcast.

In both cases, the decorations were discussed early in the season, but were decided upon at a moment’s notice when DeMarsico felt the mood in the stadium and improvised cinematic reactions.

Regional sports networks share abuse with complaints from fans about streaming blackouts and Major League Baseball’s frequent attempts to reach viewers through other alternatives such as Apple TV+. NBC’s Peacock streaming service. Or any other platform. But while the medium may seem dated to some, innovation was SNY’s all-year theme.

In this case, the network builds on what was already a strength. The chemistry between the network’s broadcast team (play-by-play announcer Gary Cohen and analysts Ron Darling and Keith Hernandez) has long been SNY’s goal, even when the team on the field hasn’t received that level of attention. I have visited the ground.

“The team has always been experimental,” said Darling, who has been holding court with Cohen and Hernandez since 2006 over broadcasts full of goofy tangents, movie endorsements and inside jokes.Darling sees their interaction as a sign.respect for the viewer. “I think there is fear in some broadcasters who don’t believe their fan base is intelligent enough to see something different. If it happens very quickly, I fear alienating core fans who criticize anything out of the ordinary.”

As comedian Jerry Seinfeld said during his many visits to the booth, “This is a TV show, not just a game.”

With the support of producer Gregg Picker, DeMarsico has quietly helped the broadcast’s visuals keep up with the quality and innovation of the narration. And like a cunning savior, he used formidable tricks to get it done.

He uses unusual camera angles, refraining from typical centerfield shots at key moments, instead filming the action from behind right field or near the visitors’ on-deck circle.

He uses a split screen to highlight the conflict between pitchers and hitters. Earlier this season, in a tense at-bat between Diaz and Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich, DeMarsico launched a shot through Diaz’s face on the left side of the frame. He then faded into Jerich’s face on the right, gradually causing Diaz to disappear. Fans had the opportunity to truly see the pitcher and batter looking down at each other.

These techniques are an attempt to bring out the drama that is already present in the game but has been difficult to visualize in the past.

“Baseball is inherently cinematic, more so than any other sport,” DeMarsico said. “In football and basketball, there’s a lot of speed. There’s no clock in baseball. The geography of the field is very structured. Setting the scene and establishing a batter-pitcher confrontation like a duel in a western.” can do.”

After decades of baseball games looking pretty much the same from network to network, these shots can feel surprisingly original.

For Demarsico, it’s the natural clash of his two passions: baseball and movies. Before starting his career at SNY with an internship in 2009, he studied film at North Carolina State University. His conversations about his work are sprinkled with the names of famous and obscure directors. He modeled how Brian de created suspense based on his Parma work, and Diaz used Martin Scorsese’s famous tracking his shot at Copacabana in “Goodfellas” as inspiration for his bullpen moments. is quoting. He also directed Nicolas Winding Refn (whose Díaz-Yelich moment was inspired by Refn’s 2009 Viking epic “Valhalla Rising”) and some of his most violent spaghetti westerns. also mentions Sergio Corbucci.

Saturday night against the Philadelphia Phillies, DeMarsico repeated Diaz’s bullpen shot, this time starting in black and white, then changing to color as the pitcher stepped onto the field, a clear nod to “The Wizard of Oz.” I was.

Then Quentin Tarantino inspired perhaps the most lighthearted DeMarsico innovation, the “Kill Bill” filter. The Mets have led the majors in hit hitters this year, and Back Showalter his manager’s growing irritation has become a joke among his Mets fans. The broadcast team used the same effect Tarantino employed in the movie Kill Bill, doing it whenever the protagonist’s thirst for revenge was triggered. The red tint, the sound known as the “ironside siren,” and her double exposure. Memories of faces and traumatic events.

DeMarsico used the sound and color a few times, but realized something was still missing. So he had his crew create the most egregious hit-by-pitch montage of the year and layered it on Showalter’s face. This meant that the manager was reliving a season’s worth of insults each time the Mets fell.

While some baseball purists might object to such practical jokes, the attention is certainly on the network. A clip of Diaz’s entrance went viral and currently has over 8 million views of him on Twitter.

These innovations may seem avant-garde for a sport that has long fought traditionalism to attract younger fans. We were also able to provide something of a roadmap for what would happen, and the process began quickly when Apple TV+ recreated Diaz’s entrance in the Mets’ presentation of the game in almost one shot.

But with the Mets on pace for 100-plus wins this regular season and DeMarsico at the helm of the broadcast, a little competition isn’t something to worry about. “I still have some tricks up my sleeve,” he said.

This kind of confidence could explain why SNY’s production team was given wide leeway to experiment, even sacrificing some advertising dollars in the process.

“Commercials obviously pay the bills, so that’s not something we want to do,” DeMarsico said of the time they stayed in action on the field. We pick our spots and choose wisely, and as long as it doesn’t become routine, we can do things like that to create special moments for people at home.”

He grinned and added:

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