Like Orioles manager Davey Johnson, Home Team Sports supervising producer Chris Glass has to produce a pleasing product on a nightly basis to a demanding audience.
However, unlike Johnson, for whom 60 or so losses a year are acceptable (well, maybe), Glass cannot afford a loss.
Fail to show a critical replay, and the phones at HTS' headquarters in Bethesda will surely ring the next morning. Botch a graphic and read about it the next day in those mean old newspapers. Miss a pitch or show a guy climbing up the foul pole and take calls from the Orioles' front office.
Luckily, Glass brings the right approach to his job.
"This ain't work. This is fun. This is great," said Glass after Monday's Orioles-Texas game. "And it makes it easier that they're winning. For us, it's more viewership. It's a little pressure too. Not that there wasn't pressure before, but we've seen the ratings. We've got more people watching us than ever, so it's something that we've got to give them. Believe me, someone's going to find something wrong in every telecast. That just makes us work even harder."
It's also lucky for Glass that he has a crew that turns in routinely brilliant work, as it did Monday night. From the production truck, planted deep within the bowels of Oriole Park to the 10 camera operators sprinkled throughout the stadium to the booth, there were network-quality professionals all over the place.
Their experience level varies from tape operators Bob Geller and Gene Matthews, who have more than 50 combined years on the job, to intern Megan Conner, who was making her maiden appearance Monday operating robotic cameras atop the warehouse, but they all contribute to an Emmy and CableAce award-winning telecast.
"This is it for us. The Orioles are it. We do the same for the Wizards and the Capitals, but in the summer this is it. We try to make it like a network broadcast," said Glass.
On this night, for instance, the broadcast truly takes on the form of a network, as for the first time in 14 years, HTS adds a "bug" in the upper left-hand corner of the screen that shows the score and the inning continuously. Fox and ESPN have used a bug for years, and after receiving numerous viewer requests, Glass and HTS general manager Jody Shapiro decided last Friday to add one to their Orioles coverage.
Glass said the adjustment took some time, but, by the eighth inning, it became like second nature. And by Tuesday and Wednesday, a more manageable bug, with the corporate logo and the score, made its appearance.
It's the attention to the little things like a bug that makes HTS' production so superior. For instance, in the Orioles' third inning Monday, cameraman Rich Sayers, from his perch in an overhang in left field, caught Roberto Alomar telling Jeff Reboulet that Texas pitcher Bobby Witt was tipping his pitches, after Alomar had hit a home run, on a tip from analyst Mike Flanagan. In the sixth, Sayers captured Johnson's momentary exasperation at Jeffrey Hammonds for missing a sign.
The extra center-field camera -- the 11th on hand that night -- which came courtesy of the Texas broadcast crew and was intended to get the reaction of batters, paid off nicely when Rafael Palmeiro -- the next batter in the sixth -- broke a 2-2 tie with a three-run homer. The reaction shot from the camera caught Palmeiro apparently talking to Rangers first baseman Will Clark as he rounded the bag.
"I loved that. I like to show the inside stuff. People sitting at home will get the game," said Glass. "I want to show you the stuff that while you were in a commercial you might have missed, but what we saw."
Luckily, for viewers, HTS' production doesn't miss much.
Around the dial
On the football field this weekend, the Ravens open preseason play at Memorial Stadium tomorrow night with a tussle against the New York Giants. Kickoff is at 8 p.m., but the pre-game show opens at 7: 30, followed by the game telecast with Tom Davis and Paul Maguire on Channel 45. The game can be seen again Sunday at noon on Channel 54. Here's a suggestion for the production crew: Based on his performance in a preseason game last year, if owner Art Modell makes an appearance in the booth, make sure the tape delay is up and running.
NBC (Channel 11) kicks off its exhibition schedule Sunday with the Carolina Panthers meeting the Jacksonville Jaguars at 3 p.m., while the "Monday Night" crew travels to Guadalajara, Mexico, for the Dolphins-Broncos game at 8 p.m. on Channel 2.
NBC and TBS will have coverage of the opening stages of the World Track and Field Championships from Athens, Greece. The peacock gang airs two hours of coverage tomorrow at 2 p.m., and another two hours on Sunday at 1 p.m., with Turner's telecast Monday night at 12: 30 a.m.
Having received the go-ahead from baseball officials and the players union to use "Catcher-Cam" in the regular season, giddy Fox officials will unveil the camera tomorrow during the Mets-Astros telecast. Alas, Baltimoreans won't see it, as we'll get the Red Sox-Royals (yawn) tilt at 1 p.m. (Channel 45), but if you can get Washington's Channel 5, you can see the new camera.
Pub Date: 8/01/97