Kasper: Every broadcaster has to find comfort zone
I am a preparation fiend. Anyone who knows me well will tell you that.
And every year I try to tighten up and streamline that process, which can become onerous if you let it overwhelm you. The last thing you want to be thinking about once the game starts is, "Did I prepare properly for this game?"
Ultimately, it comes down to comfort, and every broadcaster is different. I used to try to know every little detail about each player before we ever hit the air. But that takes an exorbitant amount of time and it also created some tunnel vision, making it more difficult sometimes to focus on the big storylines of the game.
In terms of the big picture, I do research every day of the calendar year. I have devised a player and team profile program on my computer that I update constantly. It's a system I have been tweaking for the past 15 years, making it the bedrock of my research and planning.
It is my main task on a macro level each off-season, allowing me then to focus on each series and game once the season begins.
From April to September, each day I go online and read the local articles on the Cubs and that day's opponent, do a couple of searches on players or statistical storylines that intrigue me, and then I try to let the rest come to me.
I have eschewed a rigid daily routine in recent years when it comes to broadcast prep. There are several reasons for this.
Because we are on every single day, it is easy to fall into habits. Now, not all habits are bad ones, but I never want the broadcast to sound stale or rote. I want each game to feel and sound unique.
I try not to write out my opening lines to start each broadcast, preferring instead to ad-lib whatever comes to mind first that day. The danger is making mistakes when you "wing" it, but that's the beauty and challenge of live television, and I have grown to embrace it.
Also, I don't want to be so stuck in my "routine" that I am unable to handle the proverbial pregame curveballs like a late trade or lineup change or roster move. I have learned to go with the flow and adjust on the fly.
Further, with the power of the Internet, I often can find the answers to most of the questions that pop up during a broadcast with a couple of keyboard clicks. There is a ton of pertinent information I can quickly locate without having to gather it beforehand.
This allows me to have a (generally) uncluttered brain when we hit the air, which is hugely important. It helps me not miss what's most important: what's happening on the field. My adage is, I don't necessarily need to know the information; I just need to know how to quickly get it.
Lastly, in this business, routine can overtake your life. And as I have written before, I am susceptible to anxiety. I used to believe that my anxiety was best alleviated by sticking to that unbending process.
I now know that the routine itself was exacerbating it. Life isn't best lived like a hamster on the treadmill, and I believe I am a better broadcaster when I welcome the unexpected.
Every broadcaster does this job differently. My way isn't any better than anybody else's, but I can tell you it is the best method for me.
• Len Kasper is the TV play-by-play broadcaster for the Chicago Cubs. Follow him on Twitter@LenKasper and check out his baseball-blog with Jim Deshaies at wgntv.com.