The two teams may be playing sloppy baseball, but the World Series has been immensely entertaining. If only Fox's coverage matched that level.
Fox Sports always loves to cover the stands almost as much it seems at times as the action on the field. Repeatedly going to family members, but often just basic fans sitting nervously, pulling the camera away from the very reason the audience has actually tuned in. And when they have one of their "sideline" interviews with a player in the dugout, rather than play the audio over the picture of what's on the field, they'll keep camera on the player just standing there with a headset on chatting away -- meanwhile there are real ballplayers on the field.
And alas, it came to bite them last night, and the audience is the one that got pummeled. In the ninth inning, with two men out, a runner on first, and the potential tying run at the plate in the person of the terrific Carlos Beltran...Fox was showing something in the stands and missed the pick-off at first that ended the game! They only showed the end result of people leaping and cheering, and had to show the actual pick-off in after-the-fact replay. One of the more incredible endings to a World Series game in history -- the first time ever that a World Series game ended on a pick-off…and they missed it. Meandering their camera idiotically in the stands.
Also, as I've long noted, I am not a fan of Tim McCarver. I won't go into all the many reasons, but the short version is his egotistical sense of brilliance and wit, and making sure you grasp what he's saying by repeating and repeating and repeating what he has said, repeatedly. And repeatedly. And repeatedly.
And so it was in the ninth inning that after St. Louis got a man on first base and put a pinch runner in, McCarver stared ranting the rest of the inning about why in the world did Boston have its first baseman holding the runner on first, when it didn’t matter. On and on, he went. It made no sense, he kept crying out. The runner doesn't mean anything. But they're holding him on. So, there's a big hole on the right side of the infield -- because they're holding him on. Why? Why, he kept asking. Well, yes, in most ways it didn’t make sense. (And didn't make make sense the first time he said, as much as the sixth time.) Except that obviously it turned out that Boston actually did know what it was doing, when they had a pick-off play, caught the runner and ended the game. It’s one thing for Tim McCarver to be wrong about something that was not unreasonable for him to have pointed out (to be clear, he was right to say it was an odd strategy) – but to say it SO endlessly, which is bad enough, and then after going on and on about it and not acknowledge, “Ohhhh, so that was why they were holding him on, they must have done some scouting and were looking for something” borders on the cowardly. At best, it's bad broadcasting.
But I'm leaning toward the craven. After all, a friend of mine told me that he later heard McCarver on the MLB Network being interviewed, and he commented on how admitting his errors was one thing he took pride in. Honestly, I've rarely heard Tim McCarver admit his errors. Though to be fair, I've often heard him take pride in most everything out of his mouth...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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