Baseball for the Thinking Fan

Login | Register | Feedback

btf_logo
You are here > Home > Baseball Newsstand > Baseball Primer Newsblog > Discussion
Baseball Primer Newsblog
— The Best News Links from the Baseball Newsstand

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Fox Sports needs to stick to ballgame - SFGate

I find judicious use of the mute button improves my World Series viewing experience considerably.

If someone asked me Friday if I’d seen the game the previous night, I would have given them an earful: Yeah, I saw the game - some of it anyway, when Fox Sports wasn’t apparently bored with other things and actually covered it.
The rest of the time, I saw Sergio Romo being interviewed in the dugout for several minutes in the middle of the game, and I saw more sides of Detroit Tiger Prince Fielder than the guy’s proctologist, thanks to unending replays of that critical second-inning home plate tag by Buster Posey. Is there some rule that every one of the 40 Fox Sports cameras set up around AT&T Park has to be represented in an eternal postmortem? I got it, guys - really: Fielder was out. Even if I were a Tigers fan, I could see it. I saw it in the first replay, it was confirmed in the second, it was getting a little old by the third, and by the fourth ... well I won’t quote the actual words I was shouting at the TV screen, but suffice it to say they were all monosyllabic.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 27, 2012 at 08:13 AM | 27 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: giants, tigers, world series

Reader Comments and Retorts

Go to end of page

Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. Belfry Bob Posted: October 27, 2012 at 08:47 AM (#4284815)
I really really hate interviews with ANYONE while game action is going on. Now that Fox is willing to let them ramble on the entire half-inning, I've started just skipping that inning altogether.

"So, what do you think of how things are going so far? Oh, there's a single. Let's get back to your upcoming start tomorrow. How are you - oh, look - a home run. As I was saying..."
   2. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: October 27, 2012 at 08:52 AM (#4284818)
Clearly Fox's coverage has been gone over a hundred times here. One of the things that is talked about often is the ratings and the appeal to the casual fan. But ratings are basically one number. There can be things that appeal to people and things that don't. Such as the iPhone. I hate, hate that I have to buy a bunch of new charging cables and now have to carry around extra stuff. But I bought an iPhone 5 anyway. Apple says "he bought a new phone, we're doing everything right".

So here's my question: How does Fox KNOW that people like super close up shots of the pitcher's face up until 1/5 of a second before the pitch is thrown? How do they KNOW that people like Joe Buck? And I'm not being sarcastic here. Do TV networks bother to run focus groups with past broadcasts and find out what people like? Or do they just say "Ratings are X, we're doing fine." And whenever somebody comes up with an idea, they implement it and ratings don't tank so people must like it.
   3. kcgard2 Posted: October 27, 2012 at 09:13 AM (#4284823)
I remember they abandoned the "home plate" camera installed in the ground just in front of home plate incredibly quickly. So they do have ways of knowing when the great masses absolutely hate something. Same thing with catcher helmet cams. They lasted slightly longer, but were still awful enough to only stick around a very short time. If views on something new are mixed, I am sure they stick with whatever appeals to the casual viewer.
   4. BDC Posted: October 27, 2012 at 09:42 AM (#4284836)
How does Fox KNOW that people like super close up shots of the pitcher's face up until 1/5 of a second before the pitch is thrown?

I found it intriguing that a montage of famous WS video (shown at some point, I forget when) was cut FOX style: eg you saw Mazeroski swing and then there was a cut to fans jumping up and down (who knows if they were even 1960-vintage fans, though they looked like it). It gave a subtle sense that video has always and naturally cut back and forth between milliseconds of game action and copious reaction shots.
   5. PreservedFish Posted: October 27, 2012 at 09:55 AM (#4284841)
I don't know what montage you're talking about, but I think there should be a distinction between covering the actual game live on the one hand and then retrospectively creating a cinematic narrative on the other. Nobody has a problem with NFL Films going back and forth between the Lombardi yammering on the sidelines and the game action. Some of what Fox is trying to do is an attempt to heighten the narrative qualities of the game. Some is just feverishly stuffing bells and whistles down the gullet of its viewers.
   6. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: October 27, 2012 at 09:58 AM (#4284842)
I like reaction shots, what I don't like are reaction close ups. If it were up to me the reaction shots would be wide angle showing large groups of fans after than a single fan. For example, in March I always love to watch students rush the floor after a conference tournament title.

I think baseball just doesn't lend itself to innovation. That's an oversimplification of course but just stay out of the way. Show the pitch from behind the mound then on batted balls show as much of the field as you can, particularly when runners are on base so you can see the play unfold the way you would in the stands.
   7. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 27, 2012 at 10:29 AM (#4284853)
I don't mind the closeups of players' faces in the moments leading up to a critical pitch**, and I don't even mind a fleeting look at a fan or two's anticipation of the moment, as long as the camera reverts to the basics once the pitcher goes into his windup.

I really really hate interviews with ANYONE while game action is going on. Now that Fox is willing to let them ramble on the entire half-inning, I've started just skipping that inning altogether.

"So, what do you think of how things are going so far? Oh, there's a single. Let's get back to your upcoming start tomorrow. How are you - oh, look - a home run. As I was saying..."


That's the second worst gimmick. The absolute worst is interviews with celebrities and stars of upcoming Fox shows.

But this sort of crap goes back all the way to 1969, when Tony Kubek spent what seemed like 10 minutes a game in the stands interviewing David Eisenhower about anything and everything relating to anything or nothing. For those who don't recognize the name, David Eisenhower was also Nixon's son-in-law, and he'd just used his connections to get a job with Bob Short's Washington Senators. For someone who supposedly had a somewhat jaded view of the BS that surrounds the game, Kubek was acting like a groupie in the presence of John, Paul, or Ringo.

**The key play in game 7 of the 1972 World Series was when Joe Morgan got thrown out stealing in the 4th inning of a 1 run game, with the heart of the Reds' lineup coming up against Blue Moon Odom. Odom made 4 or 5 pickoff attempts before Morgan tried to steal, and the closeups of Odom's eyes darting back and forth between first and home were absolutely riveting, and contributed a lot to the drama of the moment.
   8. pthomas Posted: October 27, 2012 at 10:29 AM (#4284854)
Every baseball producer and director should be fired immediately. Baseball on TV has become one long, tedious cliche.
   9. cardsfanboy Posted: October 27, 2012 at 11:22 AM (#4284872)
Every baseball producer and director should be fired immediately. Baseball on TV has become one long, tedious cliche.


I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

I am on the same boat as poster number 2, asking how much does Fox actually check to see if people are enjoying their broadcasts. I know I complain about it non-stop when they are on the air, but they continue to go with the same stupid stuff, so someone somewhere must think it makes sense.

I mean logically, I don't see how any single person on this planet, could think that showing a pitch from behind the umpire is a good choice, but they seem to think it is a good plan.

To me, it's very obvious that the directors of their broadcasts are not baseball fans, with the decisions that they go with, but is there something else at work here that their focus groups is telling them? Is someone saying viewers who watch baseball like the fact that the players don't wear helmets and would like to know if they have something green in their teeth as they peer intently into the abyss? I mean football broadcast is the standard for sports, and yet Fox baseball broadcast seems to do the opposite of football broadcast, because the design of the game is different. In football we don't get non-stop closeups, we do get full field showing of the action as the play is live, we get most of the time, the same camera angle for the live game, and we get pretty excellent iso-cams of the big plays. There is almost always one camera that they can call upon to show them the whole field on an instant replay, and they quickly show the replays during the down time of the game so that people don't realize how slow of a pace it actually is. Baseball on the other hand shows close ups non-stop of one individual player during the down time, has 1 out of 4 camera angles(on fox) at the wrong angle for the live play, rarely shows a full field replay immediately after the action.


I mean seriously how tough is it to do this...
1. show the pitch from proper outfield perspective
2. use traditional cameras to show the live action play
3. after the play is over, and if there is no controversial calls to highlight, show a full field instant replay(you can choose a view that shows the outfield if the ball actually goes to the outfield, if it's a grounder, show a view of the entire infield, including home, so you can see the runner) This will highlight the range of any fielders, show what the other fielders are doing, and shows the effort put on by the runner/batter. (in the NFL they do this a lot to show how the play unfolds, why is baseball so inherently different, just because they are spread out more?)
3a. If a controversial play happens show the best angle replay you can (or multiple) etc, just like you do now.
4. I agree with Andy, that sometimes(and I mean emphasis on sometimes) that a close up/focus on the combatants at the right time can do the broadcast justice, but get people who like baseball to tell you when that is, and don't rely on that as the fall back standard.

I understand the need to suck up to the dollars and to use the game to market your other programs, so even though it's utter crap, if you feel you have to show the celebrities, that is a poor decision, but I am not a get off my lawn type of guy on that.
   10. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: October 27, 2012 at 11:35 AM (#4284880)
My completely uniformed thoughts:

1) I suspect that the broadcast teams don't focus-group new ideas like Scooter, catcher-cam, umpire-butt cam, super slo-mo, etc.

2) Rather, I think that the broadcasts develop over time based on the producer's experience with sports broadcasting and their intuitive feel for what works and what doesn't. This approach, naturally, can easily lead to group-think and lack of creativity.

3) But relying on fan or focus-group input to decide what to do would be completely chaotic. "Why can't you stick to the center-field camera?" "The center-field camera thing is so old. Who wants to look at a pitcher's backside all game?" "I really don't know the players today too well. If I did, I might watch more". "The broadcasters today use too much jargon. OPS and WAR and MUD. Just call the game." "I hate it when the announcers talk down to the viewers. They need to inform, not just parrot cliches." Etc. etc.

4) Given the lack of coherence to fan opinion, I suspect that what they really listen to is the opinion of their peers. Which feeds back into 2). "Nice game, Joe, I really liked that behind-the-plate cam. It's like you are sitting right behind the batter. Scooter was a bit much, though." Whether the results are more informed than the cacophony of 3) I will leave for you to decide.
   11. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: October 27, 2012 at 11:52 AM (#4284888)
3) But relying on fan or focus-group input to decide what to do would be completely chaotic. "Why can't you stick to the center-field camera?" "The center-field camera thing is so old. Who wants to look at a pitcher's backside all game?" "I really don't know the players today too well. If I did, I might watch more". "The broadcasters today use too much jargon. OPS and WAR and MUD. Just call the game." "I hate it when the announcers talk down to the viewers. They need to inform, not just parrot cliches." Etc. etc.

Exactly. I've never thought focus groups as being anything much more than a collection of highly opinionated, low information types who keep asking the same stupid questions over and over and never paying attention to any of the answers. But then the central contradiction of baseball is that as a business that involves a relatively subtle sport, it's in a position not unlike a school system with a mandate to educate all children, just the ones whose home lives have made learning a lot easier to get across. Add to that mix the sort of viewers FOX typically tries to attract (the young and the dumb), and the result is almost inevitable.
   12. BDC Posted: October 27, 2012 at 11:59 AM (#4284893)
there should be a distinction between covering the actual game live on the one hand and then retrospectively creating a cinematic narrative on the other. Nobody has a problem with NFL Films going back and forth between the Lombardi yammering on the sidelines and the game action

Oh, sure, there's nothing evil at all about montages. It's just that they reflect a visual style that has crept into every kind of video narrative. Even NFL Films, which now seem like the most natural way of thinking about football game stories, were a massive interpretive filter placed over the sport. And these filters change what we expect to see, and even what we remember seeing. Inevitably, perhaps, but worth noting as it goes by.
   13. BDC Posted: October 27, 2012 at 12:04 PM (#4284900)
1. show the pitch from proper outfield perspective
2. use traditional cameras to show the live action play


I'd love to see a schematic diagram of how the defense is aligned. When I'm at the game, it's something I pay careful attention to: shallow or deep, bunched or spread, to pull or the other way. (Wow, those terms sound vaguely prurient.) Given the endless animations and effects, and the fact that everybody has a 100-inch TV screen nowadays, it would be feasible and fascinating. I'm not saying keep it somewhere on the screen during or between pitches, but show it for a couple of seconds instead of the cute fan with the facepaint.
   14. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: October 27, 2012 at 12:46 PM (#4284924)
To me, it's very obvious that the directors of their broadcasts are not baseball fans


I'd love to see a schematic diagram of how the defense is aligned


I think these issues go hand in hand. It's just a lack of game knowledge that holds back the broadcast. I get not showing the defensive alignment on every play but runner at third, less than two outs I should seethe infield on every pitch so I know if they are in or not.

Also, what happened to split screens? I seem to recall the split screen a regular feature in the early 80s where you'd see the pitcher and the runner on first. This seems like a no brained to me. Let me see if the runner is going rather than being fully dependent on the announcer to tell me.

TV seems to forget the idea that a picture is worth a thousand words. With modern technology and HD and giant screens we should see more not less.
   15. salvomania Posted: October 27, 2012 at 01:11 PM (#4284937)
I was watching this game on a smallish TV over a bar with the sound off, with the interview text subtitled at the bottom. It was so infuriating that, instead of watching the batter step in the box, the pitcher get set, the catcher slide into position (was the pitcher holding the ball for a long time before going into his delivery? was the batter stepping out? who knows!), etc., I was watching a non-participant blathering away, and then at the instant the pitch was about to be delivered, Fox goes into a split screen to show the pitch, and then just as quickly cuts back to the full screen of Romo's head... and it just went on, and on, and on, and I don't know what I was watching, but it sure as hell wasn't a baseball game...
   16. The Ghost is getting a Woody Posted: October 27, 2012 at 01:30 PM (#4284951)
I figure they are after the marginal watcher - casual fans who might tune elsewhere if they aren't interested. Serious fans will watch in any case, but some folks need diversions such as the human angle to keep their attention while the game moves along slowly by 21st century instant gratification standards.

I do like the super slo-mo of some plays, Pence's triple hit being particularly awesome. OTOH, I agree that the play on Prince at home was replayed to death.

I note that had they arranged the schedule so that the WS started a day earlier, they could have avoided competing with the NFL on Thursday and Monday nights.
   17. BDC Posted: October 27, 2012 at 01:39 PM (#4284956)
Actually, FOX does do a schematic representation of the men on base sometimes, with little bubbles hovering over their heads as they take their leads, indicating who they are. This is of some interest, though it doesn't add a whole lot to the schematic that they show on every pitch, with the corners of the diamond filled in or not to indicate runners. They could easily present alignments in a similar way (maybe without the little bubbles to show who people are) – as Jose says, not on every PA perhaps, but certainly when the alignment is notably out of the ordinary.

Even in football broadcasts, it seems like there are fewer Xs and Os nowadays than there were in the early days of John Madden or whoever drawing on the screen with his magic pen. I guess the emotional interest does trump the tactical one, but I always reckoned that the "thinking-fan's" diagrams & such actually drew people into watching football. No more, perhaps.
   18. cardsfanboy Posted: October 27, 2012 at 02:48 PM (#4284994)
I figure they are after the marginal watcher - casual fans who might tune elsewhere if they aren't interested. Serious fans will watch in any case, but some folks need diversions such as the human angle to keep their attention while the game moves along slowly by 21st century instant gratification standards.


I don't doubt that is what they are thinking. But football broadcasts doesn't do that. There is actually less moments of action in a football game than in a baseball game. There is plenty of downtime in football, but they have managed to fool the watching public into thinking it's a 3 hour action pack affair, by smart use of instant replay, by showing multiple people so that the action is observable, by pulling the camera away from the closeups etc. The reason people perceive the game to move slowly was failure of the broadcasters in bringing the game to the masses. There is more "action" time in baseball than football, the fact that the producers/directors don't know that, is because they have been conned by the smart football broadcasts and the dumb baseball broadcasts.
   19. cardsfanboy Posted: October 27, 2012 at 02:50 PM (#4284999)
Even in football broadcasts, it seems like there are fewer Xs and Os nowadays than there were in the early days of John Madden or whoever drawing on the screen with his magic pen. I guess the emotional interest does trump the tactical one, but I always reckoned that the "thinking-fan's" diagrams & such actually drew people into watching football. No more, perhaps.


I've argued that baseball should get more savvy with the telestrator(or magic pen). There is plenty of use for it.
   20. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: October 27, 2012 at 04:24 PM (#4285074)
I figure they are after the marginal watcher - casual fans who might tune elsewhere if they aren't interested. Serious fans will watch in any case, but some folks need diversions such as the human angle to keep their attention while the game moves along slowly by 21st century instant gratification standards.

Yes, but my question was whether they are actually getting more casual fans this way. I mean, if they are, then OK, I can understand that I hate it but they are getting more viewers. But what if they're not? How do they know? What if the casual viewer tunes in and says "I can't figure out what the hell is going on here with all of the closeups and the interviews"? My question is if Fox knows or if they're just guessing. I have no idea.
   21. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: October 27, 2012 at 04:46 PM (#4285103)
Oh, sure, there's nothing evil at all about montages. It's just that they reflect a visual style that has crept into every kind of video narrative.

Including, God help us, weddings and memorial services. JUST STOP IT. STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT.
   22. cardsfanboy Posted: October 27, 2012 at 05:00 PM (#4285117)
Including, God help us, weddings and memorial services. JUST STOP IT. STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT.


Love a montage, I don't see a problem with them. Pictures tell 1000 words, and getting a host of pictures in, in a short period of time, when done right, can convey a lot of the story with very little words. Of course just randomly throwing together a bunch of pictures with some vaguely creepy music in the background doesn't meet the definition of "well done".

   23. Dan Evensen Posted: October 27, 2012 at 06:30 PM (#4285202)
NBC used to run a split-screen shot of the pitcher / catcher (camera probably stationed in the press box) and runner on first during potential steal scenarios. This goes back at least to the 1960s. In 16 years of FOX broadcasts, I haven't seen them use it once.

Like Cardsfanboy, I can't believe that FOX still hasn't figured out an appropriate way to broadcast baseball. If you watch baseball broadcasts from other countries (specifically Japan or South Korea), you will become even more infuriated with FOX's broadcast techniques.
   24. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: October 28, 2012 at 10:33 AM (#4285806)
   25. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: October 28, 2012 at 11:59 AM (#4285870)
So Fox Soccer has a big game today. As the teams walked onto the field the announcers said nothing, they just had the crowd reaction and a wide shot showing the players, the fans and really captured the moment. Fox baseball would have never given us such a shot.
   26. Karl from NY Posted: October 28, 2012 at 09:27 PM (#4286471)
I remember they abandoned the "home plate" camera installed in the ground just in front of home plate incredibly quickly.

I thought that was killed because catchers didn't like it and could/would easily foil it by kicking dirt on it.

BTW, Fox's atrociousness has indeed driven me away from playoff baseball. I think the only games I've watched since 2006 were WS either games 6 or 7. I would if the Mets ever made it again, but otherwise the grind of inane stuff and nauseating claustrophobic closeups just sucks any fun out of it.
   27. The Ghost is getting a Woody Posted: October 28, 2012 at 09:33 PM (#4286482)
wrong thread :(

You must be Registered and Logged In to post comments.

 

 

<< Back to main

BBTF Partner

Support BBTF

donate

Thanks to
Rough Carrigan
for his generous support.

Bookmarks

You must be logged in to view your Bookmarks.

Hot Topics

NewsblogESPN Suspends Keith Law From Twitter For Defending Evolution
(100 - 5:59am, Nov 23)
Last: Baldrick

NewsblogRays name managerial finalists: Cash, Ibanez, Wakamatsu | Tampa Bay Times
(13 - 3:52am, Nov 23)
Last: Spahn Insane

NewsblogOTP Politics November 2014: Mets Deny Bias in Ticket Official’s Firing
(4170 - 3:40am, Nov 23)
Last: Joe Kehoskie

NewsblogCashman in wait-and-see mode on retooling Yanks | yankees.com
(18 - 2:55am, Nov 23)
Last: Pat Rapper's Delight

NewsblogOT: Monthly NBA Thread - November 2014
(966 - 2:27am, Nov 23)
Last: Random Transaction Generator

NewsblogDeadspin: Curt Schilling’s Son Accidentally Brings Fake Grenade To Logan Airport
(12 - 1:50am, Nov 23)
Last: ptodd

NewsblogOT - November 2014 College Football thread
(553 - 1:35am, Nov 23)
Last: Howie Menckel

NewsblogPrimer Dugout (and link of the day) 11-21-2014
(48 - 11:13pm, Nov 22)
Last: Sweatpants

NewsblogBraves shopping Justin Upton at a steep price | New York Post
(28 - 11:04pm, Nov 22)
Last: Squash

NewsblogFemale Sportswriter Asks: 'Why Are All My Twitter Followers Men?' | ThinkProgress
(134 - 10:49pm, Nov 22)
Last: Howie Menckel

NewsblogMike Schmidt: Marlins' Stanton too rich too early? | www.palmbeachpost.com
(24 - 10:32pm, Nov 22)
Last: Moeball

NewsblogFriars show interest in dealing for Bruce | MLB.com
(19 - 10:19pm, Nov 22)
Last: Moeball

NewsblogPirates DFA Ike Davis, clear path for Pedro Alvarez - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
(4 - 10:00pm, Nov 22)
Last: jingoist

NewsblogMLB.com: White Sox Land Adam LaRoche With 2 Year/$25M Deal
(19 - 8:03pm, Nov 22)
Last: boteman

NewsblogKemp drawing interest, raising chance he's the Dodgers OF dealt - CBSSports.com
(9 - 7:26pm, Nov 22)
Last: PreservedFish

Page rendered in 0.4926 seconds
52 querie(s) executed