The Miami Marlins are currently in the midst of a TV agreement with Fox Sports Florida which pays them the lowest annual revenue in the league at just around $18 million. This is part of the reason why the Fish are notorious for poor output in terms of payroll, because they are stuck in one of the worst TV contracts in baseball.
That does not mean that the good folks at Fox Sports Florida don't do their jobs day in and day out to provide Marlins content locally and on MLB.tv. The Fish embark on yet another season under the Fox Sports Florida banner, and the station will air 150 Marlins games this season as it has in years past. That schedule will start April 6 at 2:30 pm, when the Marlins do battle with the new-look Atlanta Braves on Opening Day at Marlins Park.
The cast and crew for the Fish broadcasts will mostly be the same. Rich Waltz returns for his 11th year as Marlins play-by-play man. Waltz previously worked for the Seattle Mariners' television crew at Fox Sports Northwest before coming over to Miami in 2005. Waltz also keeps busy calling Saturday games for the big Fox network and previously worked for ESPN.
Joining him in the booth will be the venerable, often times frustrating Tommy Hutton for his 19th year serving as color commentary for the Marlins. Hutton has survived four different primary play-by-play guys for the Marlins, as he first came on the scene when Joe Angel was the team's primary TV play-by-play man. Since then, Hutton has remained a Marlins staple on the broadcast even as respectable names like Dave O'brien and Len Kasper have moved on to bigger and better things. The team of Waltz and Hutton have not always fared well in the broadcaster rankings, however; Miami's TV duo ranked 24th among TV teams in last year's Awful Announcing rankings.
The TV support crew remains mostly the same as well. Craig Minervini will be present on the sidelines and before the game along with pre-game co-host 'Mr. Marlin" Jeff Conine. Conine will be joined again by a slew of ex-Marlins who contribute the occasional color commentary and pre- and post-game talk, including former outfielder Preston Wilson and former starter Carl Pavano, who will be in his second season.
The only new addition to the television crew will be Jessica Blaylock, who joins the cast as the team's primary sideline reporter in-game. Unfortunately for me and I'm sure for many Marlins fans, Blaylock will be replacing a favorite in former reporter Allison Williams, who is now working full-time with ESPN. A farewell to "A-Dub," who was as professional in her approach as one could be and was well-deserving of the full-time promotion. If you still want to catch Williams, she works college basketball and college football games for ESPN.
Blaylock is no slouch in the reporting game herself, having worked as an operations producer for ESPN until 2010, when she joined Fox Sports Florida and worked sideline for Orlando Magic games. She is a former University of Florida alum, so she gets major bonus points from a fellow Gator like myself.
The Fish will have the vast majority of their games available on television, but not every one will be for Fox Sports Florida. In addition to the 150 games for FSN Florida, two Saturday games for the big Fox channel will also be on the docket. The Fish face the Baltimore Orioles on May 23 in a prime-time contest and they will face the Chicago Cubs on July 4 in another nationally televised game. In addition, the team will have two games nationally televised on Fox Sports 1.
What do you Fish Stripers think? Do you like the setup for 2015? How about the broadcast team? Let us know in the comments.