Monday, October 13, 2008

Sportsology: Why does Fox Sports hate tradition?

By Rick Morris

Back in the days of the late, great REALITY CHECK program on, I used to give my buddy Ron Glasenapp a hard time because he works for part of Uncle Rupert's Empire. For years now, Fox Sports has enraged me by the lowest-common-denominator garbage that they use to "make baseball interesting on TV." In a truly self-loathing way, the suits at News Corp buy the gaga about how baseball is fatally boring unless rescued by goofy TV presentation.

I used to say to Ron that baseball should unilaterally change the name of the World Series to the "Baseball Championship Series" because they have done everything they could to suck all of the majesty right out of it. Whether we're talking about lameass cartoon graphics on the screen designed to attract the kiddy demographic or the pseudo-hipster choice in rock tunes rather than the more orchestral sound that I grew up on in Octobers of the late 1970s and 1980s or any other idiocies that were focus-grouped to appeal to non-baseball types, I'm rabidly opposed. Ron would gamely argue back that there aren't enough hardcore seamheads like he and I left (and FDH Senior Editor Jason Jones is probably getting me fitted for a rocking chair as he reads this "back in the day" screed) and that networks have no choice but to water down the presentation so as to attract a wider base. I consider this a fundamentally self-defeating notion.

I am clearly in good company as my friend Russ Cohen from Sportsology agrees. Courtesy of our Friends of FDH Club content-sharing arrangement, here is his compelling denunciation of Fox Sports' anti-baseball baseball broadcasts.

Russ's Rants - Fox baseball broadcasts are almost unwatchable
By Russ Cohen

Before I start ranting about the network's coverage of the MLB postseason, I will say their HD broadcast looks great and the announcing is good -- but the added bells and whistles and production are horrible! I haven’t found a person who likes it, other than to say it’s better than TBS, and that’s not saying much.

Fox has decided that to engage a younger more detached audience, they have to have MORE music montages and more bright and shiny pitching replays and before you know it, the announcers have just enough time to call the game and very little time to tell stories.

Baseball is about storytelling in-between pitches and if there is some silence, so be it. Tim McCarver does his best to tell some stories, but when the production gets in the way (like the way they had Joe Buck turn backwards to talk to him), that was ridiculous! No offense, but I can do without Chris Myers lurking outside the dugout and Ken Rosenthal intruding on my game at the most inopportune times to tell me NOTHING!

Interviewing managers or pitching coaches during the game is a waste and the “dirt cam” is a dumb way of trying to look at a game that needs no new camera angles. And if you watch it in HD, it shows a non-HD shot, so why would I want to see that?

If Fox thinks they can attract a younger audience, then they are chasing after something that baseball lost about five years ago. Most kids in this country don’t even play baseball anymore, and if they do, it’s their second or third sport. In other countries, baseball is still #1, but it’s not anymore in the states, so what Fox should do is concentrate on the audience that cares - - the 30 and over group.

Give me statistics when you flash up the starting lineup, not a buffoon like Danny DeVito who says during his appearance, with some other lesser known actor, that he is a Dodger fan even though he does a show with Philadelphia in the title. And watching Mary Hart try to pronounce names of the Dodger players was a joke. She was reading off the teleprompter, and when she got up to Kuroda, the stare seemed like it lasted 12 seconds! She loves the Dodgers so much she doesn’t even know the players’ names!

Stop showing me celebrities that you have given free tickets to and start getting into the strategy of the baseball game which McCarver is a master of and unfortunately can’t really get into because he doesn’t have enough time. Give me some meat in my broadcast, not hummus!

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