Monday, August 24, 2015
A bit of history is being made on ESPN’s Monday Night Baseball this evening – ESPN analyst Jessica Mendoza will be the first ever female analyst on an ESPN MLB game. She’ll be in the booth alongside Dave O’Brien and Dallas Braden, replacing Aaron Boone, currently in Williamsport for the Little League World Series….
This is a pretty big deal, considering the majority of ESPN’s analysts have been ex-players. Technically, Mendoza is also an ex-player – she was a two-time Olympian for the US softball team, winning gold in Athens in 2004 and silver in Beijing in 2008.
Mendoza is also an analyst on Baseball Tonight, joining the crew in 2014 and making appearances throughout the rest of that season and throughout the 2015 season. This year, Mendoza was the first female broadcaster to work the Women’s College World Series for ESPN, sitting in the booth alongside Karl Ravech and Kyle Peterson.
Not to stereotype, but I can’t imagine her being any good. Oh not because she’s a woman, but because she’s employed by ESPN.
Monday, April 20, 2015
The centerfield camera sits at the center of this operation, and only its ubiquity keeps us from recognizing it as the miracle it is. With this shot, pioneered by NBC producer Harry Coyle in the middle of last century, anyone at home—or at the bar, or in line for takeout—can see the flight of a pitch better than all but a handful of people in the actual stadium. It makes what had been in the pre- and early-television days the work of conjecture or imagination—the particular break of a slider, the height of a high fastball—plainly visible. It makes your sofa, when it comes to matters of pitch-to-pitch clarity, the best seat in the house.
Still, the view is imperfect. Ask Orlins. “Centerfield cameras are a little bit of an illusion since they are slightly off to the side,” he said during his spring PR derby. “You might think you can tell when the ball is over home plate, but you really can’t.” ESPN’s new box is here to correct that imperfection, to close the gap between sight and knowledge.
But whatever small gains the K-Zone delivers in terms of clarity—not many, to my agitated eyes—are far outnumbered by the jarring, video-gameish aesthetic presence. Philosophically, it’s even worse: K-Zone coats live action in crude binary, every pitch and swing decreed good or bad according to which side of the border the circle appears on and its closeness to the gray line. Though the markings themselves are light enough, as Orlins has been sure to stress, their mere presence makes the old appreciations nearly impossible. A swing and miss at a pitch in the zone becomes less forgivable—it was right there!—and a fastball just off the corner, instead of being clever but untaken bait, is just a big white ball. A called strike that does not show in the rectangle, of course, is tragic and unjust.
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