In era of hype, none needed for ALCS' Game 7


October 22, 2004|By RAY FRAGER

MORE THAN 50 years later, the images endure as part of our sports consciousness. Ralph Branca throws, Bobby Thomson pounces, the crowd exults.

And though the winning home run from the New York Giants' playoff victory over the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1951 goes by the hyperbolic name Shot Heard 'Round the World, it was among the greatest moments in baseball history.

The trouble is, nowadays we might not know a true historic moment if it jumped up and bit us on the remote-control finger. We live in a sports television era of the "Instant Classic," when we must have the top 10 plays of the day because we can't wait through the seven-day cycle for the plays of the week.

But, make no mistake, Game 7 of the American League Championship Series deserves a place in the sport's history. Baseball's most bitter rivals, the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. A decisive game for the pennant forged after a 3-0 series deficit - a baseball first.

Fox's broadcast didn't have the equivalent of Russ Hodges' "The Giants win the pennant!" In fact, the commentary became nearly incidental at times.

Still, what could anyone add to that picture of the fan pulling his Yankees stocking cap down over his eyes?

In fact, it is the pictures of the fans that may stick with us the longest. There's no crying in baseball, but, man, is there plenty of angst. To use the Fenway Park vernacular, Fox's cameras showed just how wicked hahd it is to be a Sox fan.

Other ALCS observations:

Fox had the angles covered in the Game 6 Alex Rodriguez incident - which reminded me of how my mom might smack my hand if I tried to grab the last roll. The only quibble: Replay it in real time as well as slow motion to get an idea of how obvious Rodriguez's slap at the ball was to umpires.

Can Al Leiter do analysis between starts next season? He's a nearly perfect third man in the booth - compelled to speak only when he has something to add to the broadcast.

Two worst sights of Game 7: The camera lingering on the beer sponsor's outfield sign when Fox came back from a commercial and former Yankee Jim Leyritz's tacky leather jacket festooned with major league logos.

Rather than sticking blindly with a graphic that wished to place the Red Sox's victory among sports' biggest upsets, play-by-play man Joe Buck pointed out Boston actually was favored to beat New York before the series began.

On to the Series

Buck and Tim McCarver are back in the booth for Fox's World Series coverage. Buck is calling his seventh Series. McCarver is working his 14th, most of any TV analyst.

The studio crew is Jeanne Zelasko and Kevin Kennedy. Chris Myers reports from on-site.

Kiper update

Mel Kiper Jr., Baltimore's fount of football talent knowledge, said he will find out Tuesday whether he's staying with ESPN. Kiper is meeting with network executive Mark Shapiro that day, he said, trying to work out a new contract.

Kiper, whose encyclopedic recall of college players and equally impressive hair have been a staple of ESPN's draft coverage, said he wants language about his job responsibilities to be more specific.

Deja Vinny vu

When Vinny Testaverde fumbled late in the Dallas Cowboys' loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, it may have looked familiar to Ravens fans from his days as the quarterback here.

It certainly sparked Keith Mills' memory.

On Sunday night, the WMAR sports anchor aired footage of Testaverde's miscue with some of his Ravens turnovers. But don't call him a Vinny basher.

"I don't have anything against him," Mills said, "but things just seemed to happen to him in the fourth quarter."

Top-rated sports

Highest-rated sports programming for Baltimore for Oct. 13-19 (ratings measure the percentage of television households watching a program):

Program...Day...Ch. ...Rtg.

ALCS 10/19 45 16.5

Stlers-Cwbys 10/17 13 12.5

ALCS 10/18 45 11.9

ALCS 10/13 45 10.1

NLCS 10/18 45 8.9

ALCS 10/17 45 8.5

Skins-Bears 10/17 45 8.2

ALCS 10/16 45 8.1

Bngls-Browns 10/17 13 6.8

NLCS 10/14 45 6.4

Nielsen ratings courtesy of WBAL-TV.

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