Fox has its share of problems trying to score in Game 3, too

Media Watch

October 05, 1997|By Milton Kent

Just as the Orioles appeared to leave their "A" game behind yesterday, with plenty of missed opportunities, so did Fox, the game's telecaster.

Oh, the Orioles didn't exactly stink out the joint, and neither did Fox. The network turned in a competent, creditable effort that was at times entertaining and mostly informative.

But it wasn't perfect, or at least, it wasn't special, as baseball telecasting at this time of the year demands. Fox could never seem to strike the right balance between giving enough information or too much, especially in the area of replays.

Often, the viewer saw replays that added little in the way of perspective or explanation, but seemed to be shown because they were there.

For example, in the Seattle third, we saw a replay of an attempted pickoff play at second, in which analyst Bob Brenly was talking about the timing play the Orioles employed.

That was great, except the one replay came from the high third base angle, not from the center-field camera that would have shown the timing mechanism catcher Chris Hoiles was using.

The replays were, at times, helpful. In the Baltimore first, producer Michael Weisman, who calls the replays, produced some of Seattle pitcher Jeff Fassero not being able to find B. J. Surhoff's tapper back to the mound, including someone on the Mariners' bench yelling to Fassero.

The truck also found three angles of an apparent blown call in the Seattle fifth, when Ken Griffey seemed to elude Rafael Palmeiro's tag on a pickoff play.

The game certainly led to the spotty telecast. With the exception of a couple of spectacular Mike Bordick fielding plays, which Weisman and director Jim Lynch jumped all over, and the Orioles' ninth, the contest just didn't produce anything memorable.

Weisman took a tremendous gamble in the Baltimore ninth, sending Brenly down to the field for a post-game interview to fill time to the top of the hour, leaving play-by-play man Thom Brennaman to fly solo.

However, with the generally shaky quality of the Seattle bullpen and with particularly rocky closer Heathcliff Slocumb on the mound, Weisman was left with the tying run coming to the plate and his analyst sitting on the field waiting for an interview that never happened.

That's not Weisman's fault. These are the playoffs, after all, and the network ought to have a third person, either analyst or reporter, on site for these games for just such an emergency. Fox would have looked foolish if the Orioles had tied the contest or won it without a lick of analysis in the pivotal inning. NBC and ESPN have had an interviewer on hand for their telecasts, and Fox, the weekly broadcast voice of baseball, should do the same for its showcase event.

That said, the Fox team missed what seemed to be key elements of the game. For instance, in the Seattle third, Rich Amaral scored from first on a Roberto Kelly double to left with one out. In the Orioles' half of the inning, with Brady Anderson on first, Roberto Alomar doubled to left, with no one out, but Anderson was held. Brenly, a rapidly rising talent, neither explained why Anderson was held nor how the situations were different.

Later, Brenly called the Fassero ground-ball play the key to the contest. However, a reasonable person might say that the Orioles' failure to score in the third, with runners on second and third, no one out and the heart of the order coming to the plate, a much more important situation.

The numbers are in

Wednesday's series opener on Channel 11 delivered a whopping 27.4 local household Nielsen rating and got a 41 share of the audience. Thursday's second game, seen over the air on Channel 13, got a 17.5 rating and 36 share, while the same broadcast on ESPN got a 5.2/12.

Besides Lou Piniella, the other happiest man in town today might be Channel 13's vice president and general manager, Marcellus Alexander, for his station, along with ESPN, will air today's game and tomorrow's, if the New York-Cleveland series doesn't end tonight.

Pub Date: 10/05/97

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