ESPN has had MLB players mic’d up while in the field during spring training games in the past, and Fox has done the same during MLB All-Star Games. And on Thursday for MLB Opening Day, ESPN did this during live action of a regular-season game while Cincinnati Reds star Joey Votto was playing defense against the Atlanta Braves.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, Votto was mic’d up and wore an earpiece to talk with the ESPN2 booth (Karl Ravech, David Cone, and Eduardo Pérez), while he played first base.

After Atlanta’s Ozzie Albies singled, Votto informed Albies about the mic’d-up situation, and he had Albies say hi to ESPN2 viewers. Votto then smoothly went back to talking about his thought process as a defender, and while actually playing defense in a real game.

Later in the inning, Votto talked about the hitting side of things and even brought golf into the discussion (in terms of trying to drive the ball and hit it harder). And he paused his golf point to give play-by-play of the game after Reds pitcher Tyler Mahle struck out Braves hitter Adam Duvall.

Votto also asked Albies, “Hey Ozzie, what do you think about me getting a diamond tooth?”

The entire inning was delightful television.

Now, Votto is one of the best personalities in baseball and would make a great analyst when his remarkable playing career ends. He’s a natural. Not every player being mic’d up would be this entertaining or have the interview go so smoothly. But it’s still a way to try to reach a larger audience and make the broadcast more *fun*. ESPN — and other networks — will surely look to try to make the on-field interview a frequent part of MLB broadcasts going forward (as long as the players are okay with that, of course).

And there was another excellent television moment involving Votto on the ESPN2 broadcast.

Votto popped out to the pitcher, something he had literally never done in his entire big-league career over 8,130 plate appearances. Witnessing this rather obscure statistical moment made ESPN reporter and baseball fanatic Tim Kurkjian quite happy.

“Flying down here for this trip, I said, the only thing I want to happen on Opening Night while we have the game is for Joey Votto to pop out to the pitcher. And then it happened! It’s unbelievable!”

[Photo Credit: ESPN2]

About Matt Clapp

Matt is an editor at The Comeback. He attended Colorado State University, wishes he was Saved by the Bell's Zack Morris, and idolizes Larry David. And loves pizza and dogs because obviously.

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