The Miami Marlins are in the middle of a playoff competition this pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
And they are getting a global spotlight in what can be considered one of their biggest games of the season.
Monday 1:10 p.m., the game against the Atlanta Braves, the first of a three-game series in Atlanta and the first of seven Marlins road games against the top team in the Eastern National League in the three final weeks of the season, is the first of four “MLB Live YouTube Game of the Week” taking place during the final game of the regular season.
The broadcast is free and can be viewed on the MLB YouTube channel.
The other three games that will air on the MLB YouTube channel in the final month of the season are Milwaukee Brewers and Detroit Tigers Wednesday (1 p.m.), Kansas City Royals and Brewers on September 18 and Cincinnati Reds and Minnesota Twins on September 25. September (8:00 p.m.).The Marlins-Braves game was chosen to be the first YouTube game this year for several reasons, according to Tim Katz, head of sports and journalism partnerships at YouTube.
The first was logistical. The game’s start time at 1:10 p.m. on the East Coast is ripe for global consumption and offers more viewing possibilities. This is magnified in the United States given Labor Day.
The second was the opportunity. Katz noted that the Marlins and Braves are “so loaded with young talent” that it could be an opportunity to attract younger fans to watch.
The Marlins have nine key contributors on their active 28-man roster aged 27 or under, including starting pitchers Sandy Alcantara, Sixto Sanchez, Pablo Lopez and Trevor Rogers; Pitcher Alex Vesia; wide receiver Jorge Alfaro; interiors Brian Anderson, Jazz Chisholm and Lewin Diaz; and outfielder Lewis Brinson
For the Braves, their best young players include
22-year-old winger Ronald Acuna Jr., 26-year-old shortstop Dansby Swanson; Max Fried, Cy Young’s 26-year-old contestant; 22-year-old starting pitcher Ian Anderson, the club’s potential No.3 from Monday against Marlins’ Jose Urena; and Austin Riley, a 23-year-old intern.
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“With most of our fans younger than you would historically see,” Katz said, “it’s becoming a really interesting mix between talent and club players, as well as what our user base looks like.”
That the series has playoff implications also helps.
The Marlins (17-18) start four and a half games behind the Braves (24-16) on Monday for first place in the NL East and one and a half behind the Philadelphia Phillies (19-17) for second place in the division. As part of the expanded playoff format in effect for the 2020 season, the top two teams from each division as well as the two remaining teams with the best record make the playoffs.
“The Marlins are very serious contenders for the playoffs,” said Scott Braun of MLB Network, a University of Miami alumnus who will serve as play-by-play announcer for Monday’s game. “Even for some of the teams that are in the middle of this year in terms of standings – I’m talking about teams like Baltimore and Detroit because they have been competitive and are close to the .500 lineup; Toronto is also a prime example: in a normal season when you don’t have an extended playoffs, it’s a lot harder to be competitive in September. There are young players who are on the verge of having a playoff chase and then potentially even a. post-season when you might not necessarily expect it for these clubs which normally could take another year. ”
HOW WILL THE DISTRIBUTION BE?
This is the second year that YouTube and MLB have teamed up to broadcast regular season games. YouTube broadcast 13 games last season and averaged around 1.2 million viewers per game, according to Katz.
Braun will be joined on the show by Kevin Millar and John Smoltz, both of whom will be analysts. Millar spent the first five years of his league career with the Florida Marlins (1998-2002). Eight-time All-Star pitcher Smoltz has spent most of his MLB career with the Braves and was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015.
The trio will work remotely, with Braun and Smoltz working at the MLB Network studio in New Jersey (socially remote, of course) and Millar, based in Texas.