We're just two weeks from Cubs pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training in Mesa, with full-squad workouts under first-year Chicago manager Craig Counsell to follow shortly thereafter. But, already, a cost-cutting move is grabbing headlines, with news Marquee Network will not have its broadcast team on the ground in Arizona for every Cactus League matchup, instead opting for remote broadcasts for the 'majority' of games.
Of course, having broadcast teams work from their respective home cities was popular during the peak years of the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing teams to recoup some of those 'biblical losses' by not having travel costs and, frankly, it allowed broadcasters to be more isolated and, hopefully, stay safe from potential exposure to the virus.
Cubs, other MLB teams, previously used remote broadcasts during the COVID-19 pandemic
Some teams got back to business as usual more quickly than others, with some seeing it as a long-term feasibility to add some green in their ledgers. According to the Sun-Times, the Cubs' decision to bring this approach back this spring was rooted in a multitude of reasons, including cutting costs and broadcaster availability at that time of year.
As the report points out, Boog Sciambi, the Cubs' lead TV play-by-play man, is a prominent voice on the college basketball circuit and has a heavy workload as March Madness approaches. Instead, we'll hear from Zach Zaidman (boo) and Triple-A broadcaster Alex Cohen (yay) for many of these remote broadcasts, with perhaps a smattering of Boog and JD sprinkled in there.
Last summer, Marquee finally unveiled a direct-to-consumer streaming option for in-market fans. Another factor in the decision is reportedly dedicating more time and resources to the in-season broadcasts - just something to keep an eye on as the season progresses. But prepare yourself for remote calls from the Cactus League this spring in a move that feels like it could quickly become the norm.