Fox punctuates season sign-off with great flair

Media Watch

October 16, 1997|By Milton Kent

It's probably fitting that last night was the final Fox baseball telecast, for the network closed the door on the season with a spectacular broadcast.

Don't be surprised if producer John Fillippelli, director Bill Webb and their crew follow last year's Emmy for their work on the World Series with another award for the telecast they turned in last night.

In television parlance, Fillippelli, Webb and announcers Joe Buck, Bob Brenly and Tim McCarver "laid out" with all the appropriate pictures, all the right replays and just about every word that needed to be said.

Though the booth team was on the money, most of the magic in a game for the ages came from the production truck, where Fillippelli and Webb, two baseball veterans, were all over the action.

Their catches were numerous, as in the Orioles' first, when they produced a replay of Brady Anderson reaching out to grab Omar Vizquel's foot on a double-play throw. Later that inning, the camera work was so precise that it captured Cleveland left fielder Brian Giles chewing gum and attempting to blow a bubble while he tried to snag a drive by Geronimo Berroa near the wall.

In the Cleveland fifth, five replays, each more telling than the last, showed Anderson flagging down Jim Thome's drive to center -- fine visual support for McCarver and Brenly's contention that David Justice, who had reached second on a double, could have tagged and gone to third had he only gone a third of the way on the pitch, rather than all the way to third.

Two innings later, when the Orioles got two on with no one out, Fillippelli, who calls the replays, produced a great shot from the high third base camera that demonstrated the Indians' rotation play on Roberto Alomar's sacrifice bunt attempt.

In the ninth, the truck captured great sound of Indians first base coach Dave Nelson telling Manny Ramirez to get to third if Tony Fernandez scored. Webb, whose cuts from close-ups to live action had been spotty, was dead-on yesterday, letting the anxious moments speak for themselves rather than milking them.

In a taut drama like yesterday's, you never know when any one play will be more special than another, so it's probably best to get them all, and Fillippelli and Webb did just that.

If a star emerged from this series, it had to be Buck, who is on his way to taking his place among the heavyweights of sports announcing. Buck, 28 and the son of St. Louis broadcasting legend Jack Buck, has developed a fine sense for the moment.

A few seconds before Fernandez's decisive home run in the 11th, Buck had been talking about the switch-hitting second baseman's power numbers from the left side, as if he could feel something coming. And several times, Buck just kept quiet and let the pictures and the sounds of Camden Yards tell the story.

As he signed off, Buck pronounced that the Fox team had done "wonderful work," and though that might normally be a self-serving comment, it was applicable last night. NBC will have its work cut out in the World Series to match Fox's ALCS effort.

By the numbers

Monday's telecast of Game 5 did a 28.4 Nielsen rating on Channel 45 and got a 40 share of the audience, the best delivery of the series, translating to viewership in 281,000 area homes. Ratings for Washington's Channel 5 in the Baltimore area were not available.

Meanwhile, in Cleveland, the game did a 50.9/69 and was seen in 764,000 homes there, with a peak rating of 54/80 at 11: 15 p.m.

Men in black and orange

Orioles owner Peter Angelos wanted his announcers to "bleed black and orange." Yesterday he got three of them -- Buck, Brenly and McCarver -- to wear Orioles colors.

It seems none of them expected the sharp change in the weather, and all got caught without a topcoat to wear in the broadcast booth, where windows stay open during telecasts.

The Orioles' public relations office quickly provided each of the men with his own black-and-orange team jacket, which Buck jokingly wore inside-out.

Pub Date: 10/16/97

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