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Thoughts On Fox, The N.L. Pennant, And More

The Giants won the pennant! The Giants won the pennant!

While this pleases me, and it pleases my friends and some relatives, I doubt FOX took the outcome well—a Yankee/Phillie rematch would have been far more lucrative—but it doesn’t have to. FOX had their chance to control who participated in the Fall Classic when they owned the Dodgers, and you saw what they did with the opportunity. (Seriously, $55 million to DREIFORT?) I was sad to discover John Madden had been corrupted by all his years at FOX when he openly declared on KCBS that the Yankees “belonged in the World Series”.

I don’t pretend to be particularly savvy in media or in business, but I know what I don’t like, and I don’t like FOX having so much control over MLB. They control the start times of the games, and even the days the games are played. Wonder why the World Series has been sprinkling into November like Daylight Savings Time in recent years? The bigwigs at FOX. They don’t want their top programming interrupted by something as dated as the frikkin’ WORLD SERIES. It’s a far greater priority to air every episode of “Blonde Bimbo Shoots Some Men But Has Sex With Others” on time rather than to end the World Series in the month of October, as has been the custom for over 100 years now.

When you’ve paid MLB a billion or so for the rights to broadcast games—a billion that Bud Selig and company are all too happy to accept—you’re not doing it for kicks. You’re doing it in hopes of turning a profit down the line. The Yankees are national. Global, even. They can help you do that. It’s natural, if you’re FOX, to want certain clubs to succeed.

If the Rays and Reds were this year’s pennant winners, Rupert Murdoch’s spleen would have torn.

I am a baseball fan, and with all these dollars being thrown around and so much control being exerted over start times, start dates, in-game interviews (of which fortunately there were none this NLCS), players wearing mikes, etc., I have concerns as to when the game on the field will be affected. Do any of you have any confidence in Bud Selig to guarantee it’ll never happen? Because I don’t. They’ve already done the abominable “Catcher Cam”. One day they WILL try to advertise on uniforms. They WILL try to air TV promos on the scoreboard between innings (not that I’d mind seeing Keri Russell’s lovely face—it’s the principle). There will be a Rallo batboy and a Stan Smith/Homer Simpson/Peter Griffin sausage race. Kiefer Sutherland and John Walsh will be “asked” to serve as balldudes. And I have no doubt in mind they’ll try to buy umpires, although these days how can you tell if an ump is on the take or not? MY WORD.

Furthermore, I take issue with the way FOX does baseball games. It FEELS corporate, and no baseball fan wants their game to be presented to them that way. Can I pinpoint why? Easily. Reason A: Joe Buck. I’m not a Joe Buck hater like so many of my fellow Giants fans are, but he presents an Ivy League image I am just not down with. It’s not his broadcasting, which is tolerable. It’s just the man.

Reason B: The E-Trade “Ups” and “Downs”. They have found a way to tie the stock market in with televised major league baseball. What idiot thought this would be a good idea? When fans are watching baseball, the LAST thing we want to think about are economics—even our own. We accept the Verizon ads. We accept the Burger King ads. We know bills have to paid. Yakking on cell phones and stuffing our faces are part of baseball. $ ain’t. We do not accept anything that reminds us of finances, which have become a very sore point in MLB over the past two decades.

My memory has long erased the telecasts of 2009, so without your assistance, I won’t be able to confirm whether or not this is the first year FOX has used their NFL opening music for baseball. There was nothing wrong with their MLB music. Their MLB music was perfectly fine. All this switch has done is screw me up. I hear the network going to commercial break and I half-expect to be watching Brett Favre trotting to the sideline. Let’s not forget those close-ups of the pitcher’s face before almost every pitch. They are supposed to be dramatic; I get the “why”. But walk-off home runs are supposed to be dramatic, too. Yet if you saw one every pitch, wouldn’t the novelty wear off? ’Nuff said…

Then there’s PitchTrak, which is what ESPN’s K-Zone would be if Stewie Griffin cloned it. You may as well call it “Bitch K-Zone”; it’s that useful. It’s blatantly incorrect at times, yet the company men Buck and Tim McCarver will often ignore false Traks and declare the pitch “right there”. Clearly, these two are familiar with George Costanza’s mantra: “It’s not a lie…if YOU believe it.” I’m not even going to pick on McCarver in this article. It would be like picking on Muhammad Ali, except Ali doesn’t deserve it.

It took 3.5 games for me to finally say “Screw the delay. I’m turning on KNBR.” My listening experience improved about 431%. Even though KNBR was a full pitch ahead of FOX, it was worth it. Only in the end, the climatic Game 6, was the delay even acknowledged—we were gathered in my living room, holding hands as if about to pray at a vigil for a fallen loved one. On every pitch from Brian Wilson to Ryan Howard, we tensed up, shutting our eyes and clutching tighter. It seemed like the at-bat went on for 25 pitches. My heart fluctuated between racing and stopping altogether. TENSE. TORTURE.

Finally, Jon Miller declared Howard had K’d looking on a cutter.

We DID NOT believe him.

Believing him would mean the Giants won the pennant, and I wasn’t sure how to deal with that.

“Wait, wait. It could be wrong. Go to the T.V.”

15 seconds later, the T.V. told the same story. Howard was out.

I was holding little Josie by this time and had to fight my basic urges to not throw her up in the air, as our apartment came with a ceiling. This moment was worth the torture, worth the confusion brought on when Harry Kalas’ son, who appears to be a 12-year-old Caucasian, did his best Rick Astley in belting out “God Bless America” like a 48-year-old brotha—thanks, Fred—worth every inane Tim McCarver stat (“That’s the second time a player has thrown his bat on a swing. Both times Renteria.”).

It is fortunate for me no other women besides Tiana were around, because I WOULD have spun them to face me and I WOULD have planted a juicy celebratory kiss upon their lips and I WOULD have endured serious nut pain as punishment. :) Or not. I think I’ll put that to the test in the Series clincher. J I found out later my friends Ryan and Joel ran around their block banging pots and pans as they screamed in euphoria. Work prevented me from joining them, but nothing short of my death will prevent me from watching the Giants secure their first S.F. championship with dozens—if not hundreds—of my Giants brethren. I like Ron Washington, and as a baseball fan I’m very glad to see the Rangers get to the World Series instead of the same tired, old Yankees and Red Sox. I really didn’t care WHO the A.L. rep was, so long as it wasn’t either of those two. As my friend Rodel pointed out to me, Ranger and ex-Giant Bengie Molina will get a ring no matter what. And so will Giant and ex-Ranger Chris Ray.

Guys like Waldis Joaquin, Brandon Medders, Darren Ford, Mark DeRosa, Ryan Rohlinger, etc. probably will, too. My general understanding from following baseball for 20 years is any player who contributed to the team who isn’t released or traded out of the organization will get bling, or at least a financial share, unless his teammates vote against it. Exceptions exist, and I won’t pretend to know what the Giants will do or who will/ won’t receive a ring specifically. I DO know Boston gave Nomar a ring in 2004 even though he was traded away, and they gave Kason Gabbard and David Murphy (who were traded for Eric Gagne) rings in 2007…

*                                                      *                                                        *

We have our work cut out for us. The Rangers didn’t get to the Series by accident—they’re a deep team with two Hall-of-Fame bats (Vlad Guerrero and Michael Young) amidst a sea of All-Star bats (Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler, and of course the superstar Josh Hamilton). For the first time ever, their pitching is equal to their great hitting—Cliff Lee needs no introduction, but C.J. Wilson and Tommy Hunter are very good too, plus Colby Lewis just threw 8 great innings to eliminate the Yankees. Darren Oliver and Frankie Francisco will set up nicely for Neftali Feliz (no relation to Pedro).

We beat the Phillies in spite of not playing consistently well. I don’t think we can get away with that against Texas. Have to catch the ball. Have to throw the ball. No crazy wild pitches. Throw strikes. No baserunning mistakes. No missed signs or blown bunts. Most importantly, the Giants cannot wait until the 2nd-to-last batter of the series for somebody other than Cody Ross to go deep! Lincecum, Cain, Huff, Posey—you have a contingent waiting to EXPLODE if you guys can bring it home. Shoot, Jenn Kelly is on your side sporting your colors in place of her Red Sox’!

With that kind of support, you owe us your best and we’re counting on it.

Let’s turn those Texas Rangers into Top Flight Security.

Bring it home, Orange and Black—and I’ll SEE you at the parade…

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I've been a Giants' fan since 1990; I still remember my first game at Candlestick as if it were yesterday (Robby Thompson homered and the Giants downed Houston 7-3). Pushed for us to get that elusive championship and at last we GOT IT! You can see me on the softball field every week sporting my orange and black, and I'm raising my little girl to not follow in her A's-fan-mom's footsteps!

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In response to “Thoughts On Fox, The N.L. Pennant, And More”

  1. Christopher Rowe Oct 25 201011:51 am


    Good article and well-written but most importantly well thought-out. I’m a Phillies fan so I don’t embrace the latter half of your schpiel regarding how wonderful the Giants were and that they deserve to win anything – but I digress.

    You make valid points regarding FOX coverage, regaring TV networks driving baseball, changing the game, altering the start times, bleeding the World Series into November and the general influence of advertising on the game. To your salient point, if FOX wants to both turn a profit and not interrupt their “quality” programming, then they should not have bid on the baseball package. Stick to the NFL. Becoming corporate schill and forcing advertising into the game is rephehensible but it is the nature of the beast. Since the 1940s, sports coverage has morphed into prolonged advertisements from the laundry soap commercials with Joe DiMaggio right on through network branding, Fox-boxes and dreaded Catcher Cam!!!

    Maybe the umpires won’t be affected and perhaps FOX can’t determine who makes the playoffs or World Series by affecting play on the field, but they arleady are having an effect on the Game. Most of the games are in prime time, so no hope of little kids getting into the games. All of the games have a corporate feel as you say so no hope of getting that eubillent unfettered joy of childhood as you forget you are watching a corporate sponsored event and simply enjoy the game. Ads are ubiquitious and are here to stay unless you want PBS to carry the games – and even then you’d have a 3-hour pledge drive to purchase copies of Ken Burns’ “Baseball” with a free tote bag if you spend over 100 dollars!

    Agreed that FOX has reached new levels of in-game advertising that “traditional networks” didn’t dare attempt in the infancy and adolescance of broadcast coverage. Look at NBC or CBS or ABC coverage when MLB Network offers you “classic” broadcasts from the 1960s or 1970s. No branding, no Simpsons rushing scross the bottom of the screen, no sitcom characters rampantly flitting abouty in various states of comical repose… Sure maybe the announcers wore ugly gold blazers with network logos or they had micropohone placards that could put out an eye but there was a level of respect for the game.

    FOX offers no such respect for the game and partnered with Com-MESS-ioner Selig, they have no plans to adopt any respect in the future. FOX has no remorse that it takes them 10 days to broadcast a 7-game series because they have to filter it through or around the prime time schedule. Selig has no problem with causing the ALL-Star game to determine home field advantage in the World Series! Now Selig and FOX are discussing adding another wildcard team so they can have a wildcard playoff round all to themselves in the first week of the postseason. This means the LDS, LCS and World Series would all start one week later to accommodate a series between the 9th and 10th best teams. Mind you, doesn’t baseball play a 162 game schedule to weed out these lesser teams? Personally I think that FOX is part of the reason that MLB resembles the NFL or the NHL. More playoff teams mean more playoff games and therefore more advertising – but it doesn’t ensure better games or better integrity of the reverence of the World Series. As it stands, you have 8 teams playing in a tournament and whoever survives plays in the World Series. This means any team can get hot and wind up in the World Series. How many wildcard teams have there been in World Series play since 1995? Ten? No offense but San Francisco wasn’t a better team than the Phillies but they beat them fair and square in 4 of 6 games. Minnesota was better than the Yankees all season but lost to the Yankees who lost to Texas. Now the teams with the best records in baseball’s regular season are both eliminated prior to the World Series!
    If FOX and Selig insist on drawing the baseball playoffs out like they have done with the NFL, at least take a lesson from the NFL. Offer teams with the best records a bye for the early rounds. Have the tournament if you must for broadcasting revenue but offer teams who prove themselves in the regular season a seed in the LCS. Playoff the wildcards and lesser division winners but at least ensure that teams who prove themselves over a 6-month, 162 game schedule don’t get knocked out in a 5-game series by the team who finished 4th overall in their league. I’m not saying I enjoy having the World Series in November but at least ensure that the best teams have a strong chance of getting to the World Series.
    As to your point about wanting to see teams other than the Yankees, Dodgers and Red Sox, parity and economics should take care of that. Look at Texas, a team built with strong homegrown talent and smart free agency, stressing fundamentals. This is a good story. Having a plethora of teams in contention encourages teams to spend money on talent and is a self-perpetuating reality. Competition is good and healthy and perhaps that is the approach to take regarding FOX’s coverage. TBS has done a terrible job with their baseball coverage but perhaps ESPN or MLB Network will finally get involved and restore some of the integrity of both the broadcast and the game??? Any fan of baseball wants to see that respect for what makes baseball ultimately watchable return – rather than E-Trade “Ups” and “Downs” or the abominable “Catcher Cam” or advertising VIAGRA on uniforms. Maybe they WILL try to air TV promos on the scoreboard between innings or have a Rallo batboy and a Stan Smith/Homer Simpson/Peter Griffin sausage race. Perhaps FOX will attempt to have Kiefer Sutherland and John Walsh will be “asked” to serve as balldudes. Maybe THAT is precisely when FOX coverage will officially “jump the shark” and the baseball world will decide that it wants to go in another direction – a direction more resembling of their classic, respectful, simpler days when it was just about the game.

    1. Joseph Davis Oct 26 20107:49 am


      Good God, Christopher, I almost didn’t accept this because it’s actually better than what I wrote.
      Then I thought that’s all the more reason why I SHOULD accept it, for others to see.

      1. Christopher Rowe Oct 26 201011:26 am


        Oh come on now, we’re all amigos. Brotherhood of Man – or Writers in this case! Our collective goal is to inspire debate, attract readers and get the word out that we bloggers are just as good as the traditional local sportswriters! Bloggers unite!

        Good luck Giants in the World Series. I’m rooting for both teams as I do indeed want it to be a good series

  2. Crystal Rose Oct 25 20101:27 pm


    Great article!!!

  3. Adrian Fedkiw Oct 25 20108:44 pm


    Congrats on the pennant, you guys played better than us.

    Good luck in the World Series.

  4. Fred Dec 22 20101:42 am


    First of all, “Blonde Bimbo Shoots Some Men But Has Sex With Others” is my favorite show of all time; I don’t know why you’re disparaging it.

    Secondly, I do like FOX when it comes to NFL broadcasting…it certainly beats out CBS…a network that seems like it is using 5 year-old technology/graphics. But when it comes to MLB, FOX is definitely lacking in quality and content. (side note: I’m not sure if i prefer the TBS coverage of the NLDS over FOX’s coverage of the NLCS…i mean they seemed pretty even to me…the plus side for TBS is that Dick Stockton made me chuckle whenever he pronounced San-CHEZ and it was so laughable to witness Stockton show the world that he has no idea how to cover a baseball game. And let’s not forget that twit from Sports Illustrated who did dugout interviews for Stockton and Brenly. He was gripping that microphone as if at any moment it would blast off into space. side side note: it would be great if the nation/world could be exposed to the great broadcast team of Kruk and Kuip. I would even propose to have the home team do the national broadcast.)

    Thirdly, thanks for citing me in your blog. I had my lawyer on speed dial, just in case you didn’t.

    Fourthly, thanks again for exchanging texts with me during the games. And I apologize if I’m starting to become a nuisance. I can’t hold all my thoughts inside for fear of my brain breaking.

    Fifthly, I was gonna text you in the top of the 9th when bases were loaded and B Weezy was up to bat. It would have been such a “Fear the Beard” moment if Weezy went yard. I didn’t want to potentially jinx that by texting you.

    Sixthly, bottom of the 9th….two men on….2 out….Howard at the plate…I don’t know when was the last time i heard my heart beat like that…when Howard got called looking my brain didn’t really compute what happened. It was a great moment, don’t get me wrong, but a little lackluster. I mean obviously the crowd was deflated at that moment and were rooting for the wrong team so there was no eruption of cheers…and the last out was caught looking…not exactly the exclamation point I was looking for to end the series…but i guess I’m getting a little greedy at this point.

    Seventhly, having not seen the Rangers play, I’m not sure what to expect from them. I was telling Joel that they scare me. They just have so many reliable hitters (from what i’ve heard). Can the Giants make them look as silly as they made the Phillies look?

    Eighthly, will Jenn Kelly denounce her love for Boston’s Crimson Warriors? Will she sport Cody Ross eye black??? Will she be known to her closest friends as the Bearded Lady??? Tune in tomorrow….same bat-time….same bat-channel!


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