Wall-to-wall, Fox coverage of game is sound

Media Watch

October 09, 1997|By MILTON KENT

If Fox has proved anything in its second season of baseball coverage, it's that it can bring the game to life through technology, with enhanced sound, pictures and graphics.

You hear and see things in a Fox game that you haven't seen or heard in a baseball setting ever before, and the network deserves recognition for that alone.

But the proof, especially at this time of year, is in the announcing talent, and for last night's first game of the American League Championship Series, the voices were up to the level of the technical brilliance.

Play-by-play man Joe Buck and analysts Tim McCarver and Bob Brenly were splendid, touching on the right points at the right time, with a solid blend of seriousness and humor.

At 27, Buck is the best of the new generation of sportscasters. His calls are informational and to the point. Like his father, Jack Buck, the Hall of Fame St. Louis Cardinals announcer, Buck is inclined at dramatic moments to cut back on the verbiage and let the moment speak for itself, a lesson a lot of announcers should learn.

McCarver, who can be a little overbearing for this observer's tastes, struck a nice balance last night, making points that needed to be made without hammering them into the viewer's cortex.

McCarver, who has been the lead analyst on three different networks this decade, made a nice observation that the viewer could see how dominant Scott Erickson was by the fact that the Indians were getting no foul pops early on, as the Orioles starter was keeping the ball down in the strike zone.

And Brenly, who was just off the mark Saturday in Game 4 of the Division Series, was back on target last night, dovetailing nicely off McCarver's points without getting lost or taking a back seat.

While the announcers were solid to very good, the sounds and pictures were tremendous. The microphones in the left-field wall captured all the sound of Cleveland's Marquis Grissom smacking the surface at nearly full speed in the fourth. And the pitch-by-pitch replay machine, nicknamed "Elvis," set up a number of sequences throughout the game to give viewers insight into how the pitchers attacked the hitters.

By the way, Channel 45, Fox's local affiliate, is producing a special "Sports Unlimited" tonight at 7: 30, with subsequent editions Saturday at 3: 30 p.m. and Monday at 7: 30 p.m., anchored by Bruce Cunningham and Steve Davis.

The numbers game

The final ratings are in for ESPN's coverage of the Division Series, and they're not as good as last year's.

ESPN's 3.1 average for its seven-game package was off 14 percent from the 3.6 it garnered for last year's games. The good news, however, was that Sunday's Orioles-Seattle game did a 3.9 nationally, the highest rated of all ESPN telecasts, and was seen in 2.8 million homes.

Truth Squad, Week 6

Chicago Bears quarterback Erik Kramer, for some odd reason, was the hot topic of this week's NFL pre-game shows, making the list of three commentators, all of whom proved to be wrong.

CNN/SI's Peter King declared that Kramer could be traded before Tuesday's trade deadline, and that Steve Stenstrom would become the backup to Rick Mirer. Fox's Howie Long said Kramer would be moth-balled, and ESPN's Chris Mortensen declared that Kramer was being shopped around, with the Atlanta Falcons a possible taker.

Lo and behold, Kramer started the second half on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints and will start this Sunday against the Green Bay Packers.

Pub Date: 10/09/97

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