The World Series on Fox
A look back at Game One coverage.
The good news is, the World Series is on FOX.
The bad news is, the World Series is on FOX. But
Game One of this year’s series featured a surprising
focus on baseball, and relatively few appearances by
stars of FOX TV shows. A few notes about the broadcast:
Tim McCarver would have us believe that Kenny Lofton’s
single in the ninth inning of Game Five of the NLCS
reminded people of Bobby Thompson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round
the World” in 1951. Did anyone really think of that
(beyond “The Giants Win the Pennant!”) when Lofton
blooped his hit into right field off Steve Kline?
One of my more generic gripes about postseason coverage
is the fascination with statistics from this
postseason. It’s much more useful to tell us what a
player did over the course of the season than to tell us
what he did during a recent 5-game stretch. During some
at-bats, the season stats aren’t even mentioned. That’s
especially frustrating during the World Series, when
many viewers aren’t familiar with players for the
It’s easy to criticize FOX for their too-tight close-ups
of players and coaches. But credit FOX for a nice
reaction shot of Jarrod Washburn smiling when Barry
Bonds hit his first-inning home run. Washburn looks
like a guy who’s having fun being in the World Series.
Unfortunately, FOX managed to mess it up by missing a
pitch to Santiago while showing one of its many replays
of the Bonds homer. Fortunately, Santiago didn’t swing.
On a related note, what kind of fool would throw back a
World Series home run ball—even if it was hit by
FOX’s “Sounds of the Game” feature gave us some more
insight into Washburn’s happy-go-lucky attitude about
pitching to Bonds, when the microphone captured him
minimizing the damage: “That’s all right, he’s a good
Tim McCarver told us some of the Giants believe Bonds
would have hit 90 home runs if the team hadn’t played
its home games in Pac-Bell last season. Of course,
McCarver didn’t bother to tell us who said it and despite his role as analyst, he didn’t bother to
analyze the statement, which seemed pretty ridiculous on
According to McCarver, “It’s a misconception among even
baseball people that most home runs are hit on
fastballs.” He then enlightened us with the knowledge
that they come on hanging breaking balls. This is the
kind of thing that drives real baseball fans crazy about
McCarver. Actually, Tim, most of us who watch more than
10 games a year already knew this.
The only good purpose of showing the Scott
Spiezio “Sandfrogs” video clip was to serve as a warning
to the public not to buy the CD.
Credit FOX with a nice replay on the stolen base attempt
by Brad Fullmer, showing clearly that Fullmer was out. As an aside, has it always been so common for players
to let their front leg pass over the bag without
touching it? The same thing happened twice in the NLCS,
and it doesn’t make much sense to me.
Twenty years ago, players were tougher, stronger, more
coordinated, faster, more patriotic and loved their
mothers more than they do today. And we know this
because people like Tim McCarver say things
like, “Nobody today blocks the plate the way (Mike)
Scioscia did in his day.”
Why does McCarver have to be so darn sure of himself
every time he opens his mouth? When David Eckstein
moved up in the batter’s box to slap at the ball,
McCarver insisted Eckstein was standing in fair
territory, when the replay from overhead clearly showed
him in the box. Instead of retracting his statement,
McCarver went on to say a “case could be made” that
Eckstein could’ve been called out. Yes, Tim, and a case
also can be made that Denmark’s military is all that
stands between the European Union and invasion of
thawing Arctic monkey-men.
I realize FOX wants to make these baseball players seem
like human beings for all those marginal fans who are
tuning in, but do we really need to know that David
Eckstein drove his sister’s old used car this season?
Ah, well, I guess we should just be thankful that the
player profiles do not include the category “Favorite
Character on FOX TV Hit ‘Firefly’.”
Speaking of Eckstein, Buck and McCarver gushed with
excitement at his weak at-bat off Jason Schmidt, when he
grounded weakly to the right side. It’s one thing to
have a “productive out,” but Eckstein didn’t even appear
to be trying for a base hit. McCarver called the at-
bat “tenacious.” Yes, it was tenacious—in the same way
that a chihuahua is tenacious in clinging to the
dogcatcher’s pants by his teeth while being led to the
dog pound. The chihuahua isn’t really accomplishing
anything, but he’s really intense while doing it.
FOX is so subtle, running the theme from “The Simpsons”
while it shows the Fan Cam. And speaking of the Fan
Cam, do we have to show it in the middle of the inning?
Why can’t FOX show us its collection of washed-up TV and
movie stars before the first batter comes to the plate?
FOX must have 800 cameras stationed around the field,
but when Garrett Anderson failed to score on a double by
Spiezio, we weren’t shown why. A sychronized view would
have been nice—one shot of Reggie Sanders fielding the
ball, and one shot of Anderson running the bases, to
give us an idea where Anderson was when the ball was
We should probably give credit to McCarver for pointing
out (in an earlier at-bat) that Shinjo likes the high
fastball, because Shinjo singled in the 5th inning on
that very pitch. On the other hand, McCarver says so
many things, so constantly, that one of them is bound to
come true eventually, so he gets only half credit.
McCarver and Buck were proponents for “little ball” for
the Giants in the fifth, with Lofton at the plate and
Shinjo on first. Buck seemed disgusted that Lofton
tried to reach base instead of sacrificing. But with
Shinjo on base, Lofton hardly needed to put down a
perfect bunt to advance the runner.
Yet another McCarver gem: “In the National League, it’s
imperative to be a good bunter as a leadoff man.”
McCarver clearly says these things in the hope that
nobody will bother to think about them. Perhaps more
than any other lineup spot in either league, the NL
leadoff man bats with nobody on base, because he follows
the pitcher. If a previous batter reached base, the
pitcher has probably already sacrificed him over, so a
National League leadoff hitter’s ability to (sacrifice)
bunt is less important than just about any other hitter
in the lineup.
FOX’s director called for a nice graphic showing
Eckstein’s 62% success rate stealing bases.
Unfortunately, neither announcer bothered to note that
Eckstein actually hurts his team by trying to steal. I
wonder if they even know.
Joe Buck says Dusty Baker is the best manager in
baseball, because he accomplishes more with what he has
than anyone else. You could argue the point, but I
credit Buck with stating a bold opinion. Too often,
announcers hedge their bets when it comes to something
like that. We don’t have a great method for evaluating
managers, so Buck’s not exactly providing cutting-edge
analysis with his statement, but at least he told us
what he thinks.
With the Giants leading 4-3 and Rich Aurlia in an 0-2
hole, McCarver advised us that it would be a good time
for Aurilia to look for an “inside pitch” to yank down
the line for a home run. That flies in the face of
everything we know about how hitters behave—you don’t
look for a pitch to pull on 0-2, you try to shorten your
swing to make contact. The 0-2 pitch to Aurilia was on
the outside corner, not the inside corner, and McCarver
didn’t mention it again. It’s another example of
McCarver’s penchant for making predictions until
something comes true.
This has nothing to do with the game, but I almost love
the commercial for Lycos, featuring Mark McGwire as the
new best friend of the guy who wins a Lycos contest.
But why in the world do they bill the grand prize as a
trip to “the baseball championship?” What is “the
baseball championship?” Are they trying to gyp someone
with a trip to the International League championship, or
is there some kind of licensing issue that precludes
them from calling it “The World Series?”
The post-demonization era has arrived for Barry Bonds—
at least for now. Newspaper and TV reporters have
decided that Bonds is a good guy, as long as they can
get readers and ratings from his presence in the series.
So this week the stories about Bonds have focused on his
baseball, not his Barcalounger. And FOX presented us
with a fascinating clip from Dusty Baker, who told us
that Barry really has (gasp!) emotions and really
(gasp!) wants to win. Thanks for the insight, FOX!
You can’t really blame Joe Buck for dozing off
occasionally when McCarver speaks, but it was painfully
obvious in the top of the eighth, when McCarver pointed
out Bonds had stolen nine bases in 11 attempts during
the regular season. After several seconds of McCarver’s
analysis, Buck informed us that Bonds could steal a base
if he wanted. He went on to say that Bonds had nine
stolen bases on the season. As “The Whammer” told Roy
Hobbs, “First a Pete and now a Re-peat!”
I can’t believe what happened at the end of the eighth
inning. We heard .... NOTHING! When Sanders struck out
to end the top of the eighth, neither Buck nor McCarver
said a word. Instead, we heard the roar of the Anaheim
crowd until the picture faded. Can we please have more
Another replay from the overhead camera behind the
plate. It appears to be off-center to the left of home
plate, which makes it hard to tell whether the pitches
are actually catching the corners. I don’t mind seeing
that angle, but Buck or McCarver needs to tell us
exactly where the camera is in relation to home plate,
so we can judge for ourselves where the pitches are
crossing the plate.
Overall Grade: B-
Give FOX a lot of credit for doing something it rarely
does: stick to baseball. We got no extended discussions
about Disney movies, no long interviews with 20-
something sex symbols, mostly just baseball. It was
more than I thought possible from FOX.
Posted: October 20, 2002 at 06:00 AM | 15 comment(s)
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