Monday, May 31, 2010

Staying With It

The Cardinals beat the Reds today by the score of 12-4.
The telecast had two halves which were separated by a 1:01 rain delay.
The rain delay came before the start of the 4th inning with the Reds leading 2-1. The telecast was fairly average at this point as the cameras and I were too aggressive and couldn't establish a good rhythm.
Then the rain came.
The second "half" to the telecast was a totally different story.
The Cardinals scored 11 runs with two 3-run innings and a 5-run inning.
The Reds tallied twice with a run in the 4th and a run in the 9th.
It is generally easier to establish a rhythm in a low scoring affair such as the first "half" of the telecast today.
However, this was not the case today.
Multiple run innings can be the most difficult for the director and crew to establish a rhythm but we captured a great rhythm today especially in the 5th inning.
The Cardinals parlayed a single, a double, a single, a double, a sacrifice fly, and another single in the 5-run 6th inning.
Sometimes after a rain delay, it is hard for the crew to get "back into " a game. When the game starts the crew is fairly pumped, but a rain delay can take some of the pre-game adrenalin away.
Our crew "stayed with it" after the delay and delivered a nice, clean telecast.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

So Fortunate

I am so blessed.
Every day I sit in the Director's chair for the St. Louis Cardinals, I have the privilege of covering Albert Pujols. Albert is the greatest player in the game today. I have watched this athlete for his entire career which is currently in it's 10th season and the argument can be made that Albert Pujols is the greatest baseball player who ever played the game.
Every single time that Albert is at the plate, we expect something great to happen.
I direct 155 Cardinals games a season.
Sometimes the games are not played very well and sometimes the games are downright terrible.
But, even during those types of games, I know Albert will bat at least four times, and therefore,
I am guaranteed four moments that pump up everyone on the TV crew including myself.
Take today's telecast for example.
The scene was Wrigley field for a Cardinals/Cubs match-up.
As I stated in earlier blogs, the energy at Wrigley is infectious.
Cardinals/Cubs @ Wrigley = guaranteed excitement!
With Wrigley rocking, Albert Pujols came through again.
Three times!
Albert smacked three homeruns with the first one in the top of the first inning that was one of the longest bombs I have ever witnessed at Wrigley.
When Albert came to bat in the top of the ninth inning he was 2-2 with two homeruns and two walks.
This was one of those rare moments where you just knew he was going deep again.
Our play-by-play announcer even asked, "Can he do it again?"
He did!
I truly am so very fortunate that I am the TV director for the St. Louis Cardinals and the great Albert Pujols.
I sit in the chair every game knowing that something special could happen and usually does.
Blessed indeed.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Cards and Cubs at Wrigley

Cardinals/Cubs = great rivalry.
Wrigley Field = great ballpark.
Televising this game = great fun.
As always, the electricity in Wrigley was invigorating.
The ballpark was rocking before the first pitch.
The TV crew feeds off this energy. I was pumped all day and even though I was on two and a half hours of sleep, it was impossible to be tired.
The first six batters of the game collected hits for the Cardinals and before Chris Carpenter took the mound the Redbirds led 5-0.
Game over.
I was very impressed with the Chicago crew today. The camera operators all worked their butts off and chatter was to a minimum. This was one of our better shows out of Chicago in the past few years. The quality of the Chicago crew has gone down in recent years but you wouldn't have known it today.
At the beginning of the season, I looked to this roadtrip as my favorite of the year. The two cities, San Diego and Chicago, are my two favorite stops to visit in the National League.
I write a chapter in my book Cutting The Game, Inside Television Baseball From The Director's Chair ( on Wrigley Field.
The three sports that I have the most directing experience are baseball, hockey, and basketball.
The following venues are my favorite venues ever in each respective sport:
Baseball - Wrigley Field
Hockey - Old Chicago Stadium
Basketball - Williams Arena on the University of Minnesota campus.
I will always look forward to televising out of Wrigley Field.
Who, what, and where all play an important part in determining the satisfaction of a director when looking forward to a telecast
Who - the TV crew.
What - the sport.
Where - the venue.
Every season, I look forward to directing baseball in Chicago.
Off tomorrow, I can't wait for Sunday.

Cubs/Cardinals @ Wrigley

Friday morning....3:35 am central.... just arrived in my hotel room in Chicago exactly 10 hours after our 3:35 pm pacific game started in San Diego.
This will be a quick turnaround with our 1:20 pm start today at Wrigley Field.
We changed the crew call from 7:00 am to 8:00 am so we will at least gain one hour of sleep.
After a little less than 4 hours of sleep we will be at Wrigley for the first game of a three-game weekend series with the Cubs.
It really doesn't matter how much sleep our TV crew gets before a Cardinals/Cubs series at Wrigley.
This scenario is the best!
The great rivalry!
Wrigley Field!
I can't wait for the game to begin.
Allow me to summarize today's telecast from San Diego.
We were the only TV feed of the game.
The San Diego crew is fantastic.
We had an excellent telecast.
The atmosphere of the 1/3 sold out Petco Park will not even come close to the atmosphere for TODAY'S telecast.
Cards and Cubs at Wrigley!
Can't wait!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Producer

The Director deals with the "now".
The Producer deals with the future.
The Producer makes sure that video packages, soundbites, and graphics are ready at appropriate times during the telecast.
The Producer also controls the pace of the telecast. While the pace of the game is out of our hands, the pace of the telecast is orchestrated by the Producer.
The Producer really is a conductor.
Replays, full paged graphics, soundbites, flashbacks, and drop-ins (sold items) are all included into the telecast by the Producer. The trick is to insert these items as seamlessly as possible. By this I mean inserting these items without taking away from the game action.
This is almost an impossible task on our telecast with all the drop-ins that are scheduled but the Producer of Cardinals baseball, Mike, is one of the best at accomplishing this task.
Mike was on the top of his game tonight.
The Cardinals catcher, Yadier Molina, is the best catcher in MLB at picking off runners at first base. He made an unsuccessful attempt at a pickoff at first base tonight and, before the next pitch was thrown, Mike called for a replay of a successful pickoff at first base last season between the Cardinals and the Padres - their opponent in this series.
This was just a great sequence.
Tonight's game went 13 innings and lasted 4:13.
During the extra innings, Mike called for a flashback of a walk-off homerun against the Padres from last season by Colby Rasmus of the Cardinals. Colby was at the plate and the flashback was very valuable to the quality of out telecast.
The Padres won the game with a walk-off homerun in the bottom of the 13th.
Keep in mind that we had been covering this game for four hours and thirteen minutes. During long games such as this, the TV crew can become mentally tired.
The TV baseball crew for this game - after a 4:13 minute game - NAILED IT!!
When the game ended, the camera shots all captured the moment in a slightly different way.
The audio mix was sensational!
Mike called for the roll-out - "Red, then X, then B, then Y. All normal speed".
As I called out the tape machine roll-out sequence, I realized that the celebration on the field was basically over because the Padres had all run into the clubhouse. I was trying to decide which "wide shot" to use out of the sequence when Mike made his best call of the telecast.
"Red, then X,, then B, then Y, all normal speed, then Green slo-mo'd to break.
Here is what each tape machine played back:
Red - Low third camera from the home show on the homerun hitting left handed batter.
X - Tight centerfield camera (camera 6) on the swing.
B - Tight ball follow from high left field camera. (camera 5)
Y - Iso of the pitcher from our low 3rd camera. (camera 1)
These iso's were all run at normal speed.
Green - mid third base camera (camera 3) on a tight look of the third base coach's hand shaking the walk-off homerun hitter's hand and then following the hero to homeplate for the celebration with his teammates.
A great end to a long night!
Just like the San Diego Padres' hero, the Cardinals' Producer hit a homerun tonight.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Great Game, Bad Camera Placement

There were so many good things about tonight's telecast.
First of all, we are in San Diego.
LOVE San Diego!
I had lunch at the Tin Fish which serves the best fish tacos anywhere.
LOVE the Tin Fish!
The score was 1-0 and the well-pitched, well-played game was completed in 2:30.
LOVE these games!
The San Diego crew is great. They identify the visiting team players better than any other road crew in the National League. This crew listens, works hard, and works together so wonderfully that they epitomize teamwork.
Early in the afternoon, the high home camera operator visited in the truck and gave me a scouting report on the San Diego Padres pitchers.
"This guy works fast......this guy works slow.....this guy does this and that guy does that."
I was so thankful for the scouting report from this camera operator and fellow TV teammate. This teamwork was a great help in my preparation for the telecast and the series.
LOVE the San Diego Crew!
Pitchers control the pace of the game and EVERY TV baseball crew member can identify the fast workers and the slow workers.
This does not in any way insinuate that TV baseball crews are lazy or do not want to work. Every crew member knows the value of a well-pitched, well-played game. The value is a wonderful flow to the show. The value comes from the wonderful viewing experience a baseball fan enjoys during this type of game/telecast.
However, my placement of cameras for the telecast was the reason for some mistakes made during the show.
I did not use a tight centerfield camera for the show. This camera can be the main batter shot camera during a telecast.
Instead, I did something that I don't normally do. I took a feed of the home show's tight centerfield camera and a feed of the home show's low firstbase dugout camera with the purpose of shooting right-handed batters. The only camera in which I controlled that could properly shoot a right-handed batter was high first - camera 3. This batter shot, however, was too high in my opinion to provide the best quality of shot of the batter.
Early in the telecast/game, I took the home shows cameras and was "whipped" on three times. I do not blame anyone but myself. We were in a side by side situation, not a dual situation, and therefore the home camera operators never knew that they were being used on the visitor's feed. During a dual feed, the camera ops have a dual "tally" and know when they are on the air for the visitor's feed.
This was not the case tonight.
For the last six innings of the game I used my high first camera for the batter and this mediocre shot blemished the show.
There will be a tight centerfield camera on our telecast tomorrow.
Too bad my poor decision ruined a telecast that was set up from the beginning to be a great show.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Not Enough Love

There is not enough love in the TV sports business.
"Thank you" and "great job" are not said enough in our profession.
This industry is full of people who look for mistakes and chastise those who made the mistake.
The most exciting part of this job is that we get ONLY ONE CHANCE to capture a moment in a live baseball game.
When we "nail it", there is an incredible feeling in the truck.
However, mistakes will be made.
Some plays are covered better than others.
Some plays could not be covered any better.
Today, I heard some of the crew talking about Producers and Directors who scream and yell at the crew during a telecast.
I don't believe there is one member of our profession who tries to screw up.
In this high pressure profession mistakes will be made.
Keeping mistakes to a minimum is the key to a good telecast.
What does yelling and screaming do? The only thing that yelling and screaming accomplishes is to put MORE pressure on the crew. When more pressure is added to the crew, more mistakes will be made.
As I wrote in my book Cutting The Game, Inside Television Baseball From the Director's Chair, ( the people in our profession who yell and scream are the people with the biggest egos and the least talent.
Now let's get back to the "not enough love" theme of this blog.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Larry, our video technician, for doing a fantastic job today. Today's weather was a mixture of bright sun and lots of clouds which adds up to a difficult day for video. The cameras looked great.
In fact, Larry, I would like to thank you for doing a fantastic job this season.
The cameras have never looked better.
"Thank you and great job!"

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Two Games in One Again

The game we televised today was another example of two games in one. Unlike last night's contest, this game was two games in one for a different reason - starting pitching.
The Angels starting pitcher was sharp and the Cardinals starting pitcher was not.
Therefore, the top of every inning was an adventure to direct and the bottom of each inning a delight to cut.
In my book, Cutting The Game, Inside Television Baseball from the Director's Chair, ( I write a chapter called The Flow of the Show. When a pitcher is sharp, there is a great flow to the show and the quality of the telecast relects this. On the other hand, when a game is poorly pitched there is not much the TV team in the truck can do to improve the quality of the show.
Just like last night's telecast/game, we aired two different games today.
Also today, our regular Producer was out of town and the game was produced by our lead tape guy - Brian.
This game was a difficult game for a Producer. The time of game was 3 hours and 3 minutes and there were runs scored in 6 of the 9 innings.
Brian was cool, calm, collected, and in control.
Sitting in the Producer's chair for the first time this season, couldn't have picked a more difficult game to Produce.
Unless he chose last night's affair

2 Games in One

We televised two games tonight.
The first game was the first four innings and the second game was the last five innings. This was the linescore of the first game we televised:
040 0 - 4 runs, 7 hits, no errors
225 0 - 9 runs, 10 hits, 1 error
This was the linescore of the second game we televised:
00 000 - No runs, 1 hit, no errors
00 00x - No runs, 1 hit, no errors
Both of these "telecasts" had one similarity - they were both classic examples of difficult shows for the Producer and great fun for the Director. One of the main responsibilities of the Producer is to make sure that all "sold" elements make the air. This can prove to be a difficult feat for the Producer as there are over 50 sold drop-ins during our show.
Both of these "telecasts" were difficult for the Producer for two different reasons.
Our first telecast included two guests in the booth. Hall of Famer Bob Gibson stopped by for an inning and former Cardinal great Brian Jordan visited for an inning. It is awkward doing promos (sold items) when there is a guest in the booth. We do not want to insult the guest so drop-ins are not usually run with a guest in the booth.
This telecast also included a grand slam homerun by the Cardinals pitcher. The crowd wanted a curtain call and kept cheering and cheering until the player came out of the dugout. Just as the homerun hitter was acknowledging the crowd, the next batter hit a homerun as well. Back-to-back homeruns! The second homerun barely cleared the right field wall. During the replays of the back-to-back homeruns, the visiting manager conferred with the umpires and a homerun review was ordered by the umpiring crew.
It is not prudent to run a promo during a review. We showed many angles of the homerun and the umpires returned to the field less than two minutes later and signaled a homerun.
During the first telecast of the game, there were 13 runs, 17 hits, a grand slam by a pitcher, back-to-back homeruns and a homerun review.
Because of all this action, we aired many replays and some drop-ins.
Our second telecast of the game included five 1-2-3 innings, zero runs and two hits. Needless to say, this game went lightening fast.
I don't know how but our Producer made sure that all the "sold" items made the air.
I am not sure which is a more difficult task for a Producer, a game with tons of action and strange circumstance or a game that flies by.
This was a great game for a director. The first telecast was full of excitement and action. The second telecast had a super flow to it. This game was a blast to cut!
I know I had more fun than the Producer.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Road Game At Home

Today's telecast felt like a road telecast.
There were three different camera operators from my usual crew for home games. These operators are all quite good and work hard. However, it takes more than being a good operator and a hard worker to insure a good flow to the telecast.
Home telecasts always have a better "flow to the show" than road telecasts because the regular camera operators on the crew know the rhythm of the director and, therefore, the shots are crisper and cleaner.
Just like a road telecast, it took about three or four innings before the camera operators fell into my rhythm as I cut the game. Once the rhythm is set, there is a comfortable "flow to the show".
The most important factor that determines a good flow of a show is that the game must be well pitched and well played.
Just because the camera operators and the director are familiar with each other does not insure a good flow. The game may be poorly pitched and poorly played. When the game is herky-jerky, it is darn near impossible to get into a good rhythm.
When this happens, I just "ride it out".
After the 2nd inning when the score was 4-2 with the Cardinals leading the Marlins, both pitchers threw the ball well and the telecast developed a nice rhythm.
The Marlins scored twice in the first inning and the Cardinals score once in the first and 3 times in the second. During these innings I was wondering if the game would ever settle down so that we could get a good flow to the show.
The game did settle down and the three "different" camera operators and I fell into a nice rhythm.
I do not get many chances to work with these three camera ops and it was a pleasure to have them on our team.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Off Night

Every Major League baseball team will have an off night.
Every Major League TV baseball crew can have an off night.
We had an off night tonight.
This telecast was sloppy.
Some camera operators were freelancing while "on the air". Freelancing is moving from one shot to another without being directed to do so. Freelancing causes a disruption in the flow of the show.
Our graphics team is usually excellent. Tonight was an off night for our graphics team.
There were mistakes made tonight because there was some laziness involved.
Mistakes made from being overly aggressive are understandable. There is nothing wrong with "trying too hard".
But mistakes due to laziness do not belong on a TV sports production team.
This telecast was not a total bomb but the mistakes took away from the highlights of the show.
Tonight, we had an off night.
Tomorrow will be better.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Seeing At Home - Not At The Ballpark

A major goal of our telecast is to show the viewers at home something that the fans in the ballpark do not see.
Tonight's telecast included 6 instances which captured this goal.
There were three examples tonight which were fairly "easy" to capture because of the technology we utilize on our show. These three examples were captured because of the super slo-mo camera. Our super slo-mo camera operator is one of the best camera ops in the country and his skill was highlighted tonight.
The first example occurred in the first inning. There was a groundball hit to the shortstop and our super slo-mo op followed the ball TIGHT to the first baseman. The tight, tight shot of the ball spinning to the first baseman was absolutely beautiful.
The next two super slo-mo replays occurred in the top of the third inning. First, the Cardinals third baseman made a spectacular play on a swinging bunt up the third base line. The replay showed the third baseman fielding the ball bare handed, finding the seams of the ball and throwing the batter out at first. Then, later in the inning, this camera operator gave us a fantastic shot of a pitch from the pitcher's hand to the catcher's glove. This "ball follow" was one of the most spectacular I have ever seen!
Another example of our viewers at home seeing something the fans in the ballpark did not see happened in the bottom of the 4th inning. We noticed that the Nationals pitcher held the ball in a changeup grip while watching the catcher's signs. Our color analyst did a great job explaining why pitchers hold the ball in a certain way during "signs" and the shot worked.
Luck plays a huge part in our goal of showing our viewers something the fans in the park do not see.
Luck was with us twice tonight.
Early in the game, the home plate umpire thought that the batter had taken a called third strike. We heard him yell "strike........three" as he emphatically swung his arms during his "strike" call. The problem was that the count was 3-1. We replayed the pitch tracking the audio and the replay was very effective. In no way were we trying to embarrass the umpire as he actually called a great game, but this replay was entertaining.
Late in the game, with the game on the line, we got lucky again.
In the bottom of the 8th inning with the score tied at 2 the Cardinals lead off batter walked and was replaced with a pinch runner. This pinch runner had been going through some tough times at the plate AND in the field. I jokingly said to our play-by-play announcer - "watch him get picked off." Well, he was picked off of first base.
I had a camera stay with him in the dugout looking for a reaction. This is where we got lucky again.
The next pitch the Cardinal batter hit a homerun!
The best replay of the homerun was not the swing and was not the crowd going wild. The greatest replay of the homerun was the shot of the player who had just been picked off of first base in the dugout.
There were two emotions captured during this replay - elation and relief.
The elation of the Cardinals celebrating the huge homerun and the relief shown by the player who had just been picked off of first base.
This contrast of emotions caused this replay to be one of my favorites ever.
The viewers at home were rewarded tonight with pictures that the fans in the ballpark did not see.
Our goal was met.
Great show.

Monday, May 17, 2010


I was very impressed with our home TV crew tonight.
This is my 23rd year of doing Cardinals baseball and I have worked with many of these professionals for much of that time.
I feel that I know the talent of each respective crew member. I have a pretty good idea of the strengths and weaknesses of our crew.
The reason I was impressed tonight had nothing to do with the work ethic of this crew. Their work ethic is impressive each and every telecast.
The overall quality of the crew's work was impressive but this was also not the reason the crew impressed me tonight.
I was impressed with our crew tonight because of how they listened.
The camera operators are listening to me as I cut the game, the announcers as they call the game, and each other as they notice "things" on the field or in the ballpark.
The tape crew is listening to the producer, the director, and the announcers as are the graphics operator and the fox box operator.
Audio is listening to everything.
Video is following the director.
The stage manager is listening to the producer and the announcers.
A crew member who is just average will hear but not listen.
It is what a crew member does after listening that matters.
Television sports is a profession of split second decision making.
It is a profession that relies on REACTION.
The crew has ONE chance to cover a play as good as possible.
A successful telecast is measured by how the crew listens. Listening prepares the crew for upcoming events during the game/telecast.
An example of this occurred in tonight's game/telecast. Early in the game, the announcers were talking about a certain batter and stated that he really went to the opposite field well. During an at-bat later in the game, our robo operator changed his iso to cover a hit to the opposite field with this batter. Indeed, he hit the ball to the opposite field and the replay was telling.
The robo operator listened as did the whole crew.
Television (Tele = audio, vision = video) Sports.
Perhaps this profession should be called Television-Listen Sports.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Weak Link

Televising the Cardinals/Reds game today was difficult.
When a pitcher is working slow, his teammates on the field are not the only people affected. The whole TV crew is affected as well. The telecast started out with a good flow but, because of the pace of a starting pitcher, I could feel members of the crew becoming disinterested.
It is a fact that if the viewer is bored that means that the director must be bored. I can't say that I was bored during the telecast/game today but the slow pace certainly was maddening and, thus, my concentration level was not where it should have been.
Being on the back end of a dual feed makes it all the more important to keep the concentration level up. My cutting between the home feed and my cameras was awful. There were a bunch of "jump cuts" and some just plain bad TV baseball directing. This telecast looked like it was directed by someone doing his first game.
Our producer looked at me twice today with a look of "What the heck is wrong with you?"
He was being very professional. He could have given me "the look" many more times than just twice.
The camera operators were affected as well. They stopped (for the most part) listening to the announcers about the fourth inning and had to be directed for almost every shot. I put NO blame on these camera operators who usually do a great job. They were just following me and my "rookie" cut.
This is my summary of today's telecast:
Technical Director (TD) - excellent.
Audio - Great mix.
Video - Very nice pictures.
Graphics - Super job.
Cameras - Performance affected by the weak link - me.
Tape Room - On top of things all game.
Fox Box - Perfect
Pitch Trax - Solid
Stage Manager - Flawless
Producer - Flummoxed by the director.
Director - None of the above.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


It was an honor to be part of tonight's telecast.
This was one of MLB's civil rights games for the 2010 season.
During the pre-game ceremonies we had shots of Frank Robinson, Henry Aaron, Ernie Banks, and Willie Mays. Ernie Banks visited our booth for an inning and his visit was most enjoyable.
The game was well played and well pitched.
The two most exciting plays for a TV baseball director to cut are a walk-off home run or the game ending with a play at the plate.
The bottom of the ninth began with the Cardinals down 4-2.
Later, with the score 4-3 and a runner on first base with two outs, the Cardinals batter hit a smash down the 3rd baseline for a sure base hit.
The only question was whether or not the runner from first base would score to tie the game at 4-4.
On a bang-bang play at the plate the runner was called out and the Reds won the game.
We were in the back end of a dual feed and I only had three cameras at my disposal. I know the home show, with it's full complement of equipment, would have the game-ending play well covered so this allowed me to take some chances with my cameras. If these "chances" don't pan out, I know we can rely on the camera angles from the home show.
Before the at-bat, I told camera 1 which is located in the third base dugout - the Cardinals dugout - that "if it looks like the batter hits a home run, shoot the dugout".
I told camera 3 (located at the mid-first base position) to pull back as wide as possible and tilt down and show the Cincinnati fans going crazy. I told the camera operator to "stay there, don't move" and I will cut you in immediately if the Reds win.
When the Cardinals batter stroked the ball to left field, I told camera 1 to "shoot the dugout".
Immediately after the runner was called out, I cut in camera 3 with the crowd going nuts and then I went to camera 1 with the dejected Cardinals leaving the dugout. I watched this shot live when the ball was in play and knew the shot would be used in a replay sequence during the post-game show.
During the post-game hit, we replayed four angles of the final play of the game.
The first angle was from the home shows' mid-third base camera. (Our mid-first base camera was isoing the crowd which I cut in live.) The second angle was from the home shows' left field corner camera. The third angle was from our tight centerfield camera, and the fourth and final look was the iso of the Cardinals' dugout from our camera 1.
This was a very nice sequence put together by our producer and the tape room.
In my book Cutting The Game, Inside Television Baseball From the Director's Chair ( I write a chapter called Respect = Success. This chapter explains how respect for the game, the players, the fans, and the TV crew leads to a successful telecast.
Tonight's "Civil Rights Game" was all about respect.
Our crew was privileged to be a part of this telecast which began by showing a deep respect for the African American players who played such a huge part of making baseball the greatest game in the world.
It was an honor for all of us to a part of this game/telecast.
The baseball Gods rewarded us for this respect with a successful and memorable show.

Friday, May 14, 2010

It Always Seems To Work Out

Park and Power - noon.
Main crew call - 1:00.
I arrived at the truck at 2:00 and NOTHING was working - NOTHING.
This was the first baseball game that this dual feed truck in Cincinnati had EVER worked.
There is something about the dual feed set-up in Cincinnati that is totally different from any other dual feed set-up in the country. For dual feed set-ups in Cincinnati, there is always SOMETHING. Yes, we always make the air. But the most trying time of the day in Cincinnati is always during set-up.
Once we go to air, the comfort level increases.
When I arrived at the truck and nothing was working - and I mean NOTHING was working, I did not fret, I knew we would make air.
And we did.
Special thanks goes out to Goldy, our EIC, Phil, the EIC of the main dual truck, and Fred - the jack of all trades, who worked their butts off to insure that Cardinals baseball would "make the air".
Our telecast captured the main moments of this exciting game which the Cardinals won 4-3.
The viewers at home witnessed a well played, well pitched ballgame with an exciting finish.
The hard work of the three truck techs, of which the viewers had no idea, did not go unnoticed by our crew in the truck.
Thank you for a job well done.
If the viewers only knew.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Home Plate Umpire

Today's Astros/Cardinals game was played in 2 hours and 18 minutes.
Thank you home plate umpire Jim Joyce.
Mr. Joyce called the strike zone as it should be called. If every umpire called the game like Jim Joyce, the game would be played like it should be played - with a good pace.
Every off season, Major League Baseball studies methods that would speed up the game. In fact, last fall a task force was set up to come up with ideas to "speed up the game".
MLB needs to look no further than the home plate umpire.
Call the strike zone as it should be called and the speed of the game will increase to an acceptable time.
I have written in previous blogs about what the pace of the game means to the flow of the show. A nice pace to the game = a good flow to the show = a more pleasurable experience for the fan.
Allow me to put this differently.
Nice pace = good flow = more tickets sold.
Our telecast today included some great super slo-mo shots from our talented super slo-mo camera operator.
These shots were the highlights of our show which had a good flow.
Thanks to Jim Joyce.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Back To Normal

I led.
I followed.
Back to normal.
This was an exact replica of yesterday's game.
The Cardinals led early while playing well. An error led to Astros runs and the Cardinals lost.
Yesterday, I was never in a rhythm.
Tonight, I found a rhythm early and held onto it.
Two similar games on the field and two different scenarios in the truck.
It is important for the director to establish a rhythm because this sets the tone for the crew especially the producer.
The producer can never control the pace of the game but it is the producer who controls the pace of the telecast.
When the director is in a rhythm, the producer can, more easily, control the pace of the telecast. When the director has no rhythm, the producer has a more difficult time controlling the pace of the show.
All graphics, drop-ins and features (sold items), and replays are the responsibility of the producer.
During a Cardinals' telecast, there are approximately 3 drop-ins per half inning. So, during each half inning, the producer must insure that these items - which pay for the telecast - get "on the air". These items plus replays and graphics must, in order to insure a clean telecast, be inserted without distraction to the audience. The producer must be part magician to accomplish this. Our producer is a master of controlling the pace of the telecast.
The director with no rhythm may be the biggest obstacle to the producer.
I am glad I was not an obstacle tonight.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Following or Leading

During a telecast, the director is either following the announcers or leading the announcers.
A typical telecast finds a good mix of the two.
The director, who is visually writing the story of the game, chooses whether to follow or lead. When there is plenty of action on the field, the director is leading the announcers.
When there is lull in the action the director follows the announcers.
However, when the director is having a difficult time establishing a rhythm, he or she will follow rather than lead.
There is a huge frustration level when a rhythm can't be established and, therefore, the director has to follow and cannot lead.
Believe me I know.
Tonight was one of those nights.
I just could not get into a rhythm.
Sometimes the pace of the game does not allow for the director to get into a rhythm. That was not the case tonight. The game had a nice pace to it. I found myself trying and trying to get into a rhythm so that I could lead the announcers.
Never happened.
When the director can't find a rhythm, the whole crew is affected.
When the director has found a rhythm, the whole crew "feels" it and the shots are tighter and crisper. The replays and video packages work and the graphics are succinct.
However, when there is no rhythm from the director's chair, the crew is wondering just what the heck is wrong with the director.
A home crew which works with the same director for 50 to 75 games knows what is happening in the director's chair and understands that these telecasts happen.
The road crew, which works with a visiting director for 3 to 9 telecasts during the season, thinks the director is awful when a rhythm is not found.
I could not find a rhythm tonight.
Thank God I was with my home crew because I was awful tonight and I know they know that these telecasts happen.
I know I will be better for tomorrow's telecast.
I hope I can't be any worse.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Advice To Pitchers

I felt bad for all the viewers who watched today's telecast between the Cardinals and the Pirates. When I say ALL the viewers I am talking about both TV feeds - the St. Louis feed and the Pittsburgh feed.
These viewers were not entertained with Major League Baseball today.
They watched baseball quality equal to AA baseball.
Here are some tips to pitchers in the Major Leagues.
The teams with the lowest ERA and the best winning percentage are the teams whose pitchers work fast and throw strikes!
To get the batter out, you don't have to make that perfect pitch on the black.
Fact: the worst nibblers have the most walks.
Fact: a batter with a 0-1 count fails many more times than a batter with a 1-0 count.
Pitchers in AA have talent. They throw hard or have great movement or both. But there is a reason they are in AA.
The reason is that they have not learned how to pitch.
Why do you think these players are called pitchers and not throwers.
This is not difficult to comprehend.
Guess what?
When you get a batter out 7 out of 10 times, that particular batter is doing good!
For you pitchers that lack math skills, that means the batter succeeded only 3 times out of 10.
Fear does not belong in the big leagues.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Key Moments

There are key moments during every baseball game.
The quality of a telecast hinges on how these key moments are covered. The "live" cut and the replay sequence of a key moment are both important when covering a key moment.
We had three key moments in tonight's telecast.
With one out in the bottom of the third inning, Cardinals' shortstop Brendan Ryan made a spectacular play on a ground ball hit off the bat of Andrew McCutchen who can fly. When a great play is made it is important to shoot the player involved as soon as possible after the play. The good camera operators "feel it" when this happens. The Pittsburgh camera operators all responded after the play and the "live" cut worked. The replay sequence was excellent and the last angle ended with a push to Ryan - very nice.
The second key moment occurred in the top of the sixth inning. Ryan Ludwick of the Cardinals was thrown out at the plate while trying to score from second base on a basehit. This play ended the inning. Our tight centerfield camera operator "felt it" and pushed to Ludwick who was flabbergasted that he was called out. We rolled out with an angle that showed the catcher clearly missing the tag. Coming out of the commercial, we showed four angles of the missed call and came out of the replay sequence with a shot of Ludwick.
The final key moment happened in the top of the eighth inning. With the Pirates winning 1-0, the Cardinals had runners on first and second with two outs and the greatest hitter in the game, Albert Pujols, at the plate.
Albert struck out swinging to end the inning.
A shot of the crowd going wild sent the television audience to commercial.
A TV sports production team gets one chance and one chance only to truly capture key moments.
When the TV team captures these moments it is very gratifying.
Our team succeeded tonight.
Good show.

Friday, May 7, 2010


I love baseball because you never know what you might see during the game.
Every game is different and every baseball TV crew member learns something new during each telecast.
This profession is wonderful beacause we all learn from each and every telecast/game.
However, it is during those telecasts/games when the "wow" factor comes into effect, that those telecast/games become the most memorable for the viewer as well as the TV baseball crew member.
I have been a producer or a director of major league baseball telecasts for 27 years and I have never seen a game that included more "wow factor" events than happened tonight.
There was a play at home plate where the runner was obviously going to be safe as he arrived at the plate well before the throw. But, he missed the plate with his hand and was tagged out.
Excellent replays displayed this mistake by the runner.
There was a play at second base where the base stealer was obviously out because the throw from the catcher arrived to the second baseman well before the runner arrived at the base. However, the second baseman placed his glove on the ground in front of the base and the base runner, in a head first slide, switched from one hand to the other and avoided the tag.
Wonderful replays showed the guile of the base stealer.
The most strange play of the game occurred in the bottom of the eighth inning.
The Pirates first two batters of the inning each singled and there were runners on first and third with nobody out with the Cardinals leading 3-2.
The ball was hit back to the pitcher and the runner at third base was caught off the bag. During the ensuing rundown, the runner from first advanced to third base. The Cardinals catcher ran the base runner from third base back to the bag. The runner from first base was called out. The runner from third base thought he was out and stepped off the base. The Cardinals' catcher immediately tagged him and there was a double play.
The reaction from the catcher captured this moment perfectly - a great replay!
It is fun when "wow" plays happen during a telecast.
"Wow" plays do not have to be great offensive plays.
"Wow" plays do not have to be great defensive plays.
The most pleasurable "wow" plays are those plays that are seldom witnessed.
St. Louis Cardinals viewers and Pittsburgh Pirates viewers had their share of "wow" plays tonight.
A memorable telecast for all involved.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

All Good Things............

A beautiful day.
A full house.
An absolutely awful game.
Try as you may in the TV truck, when the game is awful.......let me amend that - when the game is AWFUL, there is not much, if anything, that can be done from a production standpoint to improve the product.
In the fourth inning, the Cardinals starting pitcher had already thrown over 100 pitches.
The starting pitcher for the Phillies, who is one of the premier pitchers in all of baseball, pitched better than the Cardinals starter but still did not pitch to the elite level that this pitcher is a member of.
The defenses on both teams were sloppy.
Even the official scorer was terrible.
A wind blown fly ball to the Phillies right fielder was dropped and scored a triple.
A hard groundball that went right between the Cardinals third baseman's legs was scored a single.
When the players lose interest and the official scorer loses interest, it makes the job of the TV crew that much more difficult.
This game was so bad that shots of the Phillie Phanatic didn't work.
The first three games of this series were fantastic.
Last night's game was one of those great games that happen maybe once a month.
When the TV crew leaves the truck after one of these wonderful games, every member is exhilarated.
Every member is "pumped up".
When the caliber of the game goes from the quality of last night's contest to the absolute "stinker" of today's show, the crew is not "pumped up" they are "wiped out".
The first three show of this series were great fun. The ballpark was electric and the energy flowed.
This fourth game of the series was so bad that even though the ballpark was once again jammed to the rafters the game drained every single ounce of energy out of the ballpark.
I guess this game is just preparing us for the upcoming series of telecasts.
We are in Pittsburgh after all.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


We finished with our third straight telecast in Philadelphia tonight and I realize how spoiled I am.
We had our third straight well-played, well-pitched, exciting game in front of a packed house.
Once again, the Philadelphia crew was fantastic.
For the third straight night the telecast was exceptional.
These telecasts out of Philadelphia reminded me of our telecasts out of Busch Stadium. Like the games in St. Louis, the ballpark was full of fans who are into the game and their team.
I am very grateful that every home Cardinals telecast is presented with a full "studio audience". The energy of a full ballpark is infectious to the crew. The TV production crew seems to feed off of this energy.
When the game is on the line and the fans in the ballpark are going crazy, every talented member of the TV production crew raises his or her performance.
The camera shots are crisper.
The video packages are tighter.
The audio mix is enhanced.
Any member of a TV sports production team who does not or cannot become excited when the game is on the line and the crowd in the ballpark is going crazy should get into another business. It is so rewarding for a TV crew to get the opportunity to work road games like the three we just televised from Philadelphia.
I am spoiled.
I cannot imagine what it would be like to televise a home show in a ballpark with a small attendance.
I sincerely thank the St. Louis Cardinals fans for their loyalty and their zeal for their team. Thank you Cardinals fans for making my job and the job of the TV baseball crew in St. Louis the most fun and the most rewarding of any job in television sports.
We are all grateful and we are all blessed.
For all of our telecasts, both home and road, we realize that we are covering the game for the best fans in baseball.
Because of you Cardinals fans, the atmosphere at Busch Stadium is electric and our Cardinals home TV baseball crew feeds off of this energy.
We only hope that our telecasts give back to you fans the pleasure you deserve as you watch Cardinals baseball.
It is our thanks to you for creating such a wonderful place to cover the great game of baseball - Busch Stadium.

Great Fun

What a blast.
This telecast/game was a pleasure.
All of us on the crew had a great, great time.
The energy of the ballpark was exhilarating. Our whole crew fed off the energy of the packed house.
The game featured outstanding performances by the two starting pitchers.
Everyone loves a great pitched game.
The Cardinals tied the game 1-1 in the top of the ninth inning.
The Phillies won the game with a walk-off homerun in the bottom of the 10th inning.
From the first pitch to the last, the excitement kept building.
The audio engineer increased the excitement for the viewers with a great mix.
The camera work was spot on. This camera crew is fantastic and the pictures from the video operator were beautiful.
Great graphics added to the excitement of the game.
The use of video packages and replays enhanced the viewing experience.
This game was the type of contest that all TV baseball production crews live for. Every member of our crew fed off the tremendous energy that this game provided and the telecast proved it. This was a great show.
This was great fun.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Positives and Negatives

Every telecast has positives and negatives, highs and lows.
The key is to have more positives than negatives, more highs than lows.
Tonight's telecast/game had it's share of each.
Let's start with the negatives.
1. The two players who we highlighted in our one segment open did nothing during the game.
2. A fan ran on the field during the game.
3. There was a homerun review in the first inning.
It is always nice when the open of the show proves correct in establishing the theme for the show.
Our theme for tonight's telecast involved two of the best players in major league baseball. These first baseman are two of the most feared hitters in the game. Based on our opening segment, we expected these two superstars to provide some highlights during the game.
They were both invisible.
It is a Major League Baseball edict not to show fans who run on the field. I provided shots of players, fans, and umpires when a fan ran around the outfield in tonight's game. Major League Baseball feels that showing the idiot running on the field during a game would only encourage other morons to do the same. MLB is correct.
These incidents disrupt the game and disrupt the telecast.
I do not like the homerun review.
I understand the thinking of getting the call correct, but I like the human element involved with the umpires.
The amount of time used to establish the correct call is detrimental to the game.
If homeruns can be reviewed then what is next?
All calls can be reviewed?
The homerun review disrupts the game and the flow of the show.
Now let's talk about the positives in tonight's telecast.
The camera crew worked their butts off.
This hard work paid off with some great replays and live shots.
We had a bench iso replay on a pinch-hit homerun that may be the best replay of this season.
The home plate umpire had a difficult night behind the plate resulting in arguments and a manager being tossed from the game.
There was some great shots of tight faces of the umpire and assorted players throughout the telecast. These shots captured the tension of the players caused by the difficulties of the home plate umpire.
Throughout this telecast, we experienced both positives and negatives, both highs and lows.
Just like a professional athlete, the TV sports production team cannot get too high when things are flowing and they cannot get to low when things don't work.
The flow to the show depends on this.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


It is really nice when any TV sports director is able to "get into a rhythm" during a telecast. Today's telecast between the Reds and the Cardinals was a game/telecast where I had to get into two different rhythms during the game.
The Cardinal's starting pitcher, Chris Carpenter, worked as he always does - lightening fast.
The Reds starter, Aaron Harang, worked at a much slower, more deliberate pace.
I like to go to the centerfield camera (camera 4) right before the pitcher begins his windup. In fact, this is how I set the tempo of my cut. I like to complete my sequence of shots between pitches just as the pitcher is ready to deliver the pitch.
This sequence may be of the sort that follows the announcers or it may be a sequence that is leading the announce team.
Regardless, the pace of the pitcher determines the pace of my cut.
Carpenter's pace allowed me to have a crisp, fast-paced cut that developed into a nice ryhthm.
Harang's pace was the direct opposite of Carpenter's pace. His pace was so slow that this pace made me create shots to fill in the time between pitches. The difficulty of this is that "filler"shots can be lower the quality of the telecast. The key is to create shots that are not "wasted" shots as "filler" shots are usually "wasted" shots.
Therefore, my cut was totally different when the Cardinals were at-bat than when the Reds were at-bat..
When one pitcher has a nice pace to his delivery and another has a completely different pace, this situation causes the director, in essence, to work two shows.
I cut two games today.
I cut the fast-paced Carpenter show and I cut the snail-paced Harang show.
The great thing about the job of a TV sports director is that the director learns something every time he/she "sits in the chair".
I want to thank Chris Carpenter for allowing me to get into a great rhythm as I "cut" the game.
I want to thank Aaron Harang for teaching me the value of patience while I "cut" the game.
Two great pitchers.
Two different styles.
I learned from both.
How great is this job!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Tired? Yes. Tiring? No.

We had a 12:10 first pitch today, but that is not the telecast I am writing about.
I am writing about last night's telecast.
In fact, I am combining both telecasts into this one blog.
There is a good reason I am combining both telecasts into a single blog.
Last night's game telecast began at 7:00 after a half-hour pregame show.
The Cardinals were leading 2-1 going into the sixth inning when it started raining. The pitcher for the Cardinals was having trouble with his pitching hand being wet and had trouble with his control. During the top half of the inning, the Reds scored 2 runs to go up 3-2.
Then it started pouring rain.
After a rain delay of 2:32, play resumed with the Cardinals batting in the bottom of the sixth. The game ended at 12:30 AM with the tying run on second.
Both sides of the game/telecast (pre-rain and post rain) had a nice pace.
When the game finally resumed, everyone on the crew, although tired, continued to deliver a good TV baseball product.
Crew call for today's 12:10 PM start was 8:00 AM.
Despite being a short turn around, every member of the crew showed up with a great attitude. Despite being physically and mentally tired, our crew worked their tails off and I believe that each member of the crew enjoyed the telecast.
We televise 155 Cardinals games each season and this can become quite a grind.
There are many factors that contribute to a successful TV baseball season.
Perhaps the most important is the relationships between the crew members.
Our travelling crew of producer, director, graphics operator, and tape producer are all friends. We are together almost every day from the middle of March through the first week of October. It is imperative that we all get along.
If we did not get along and actually enjoy each other, a day like today would prove to be difficult. In the truck during the telecast today was a blast!
The Cardinals scored three runs in the bottom of the 8th inning and won 6-3.
The game went 3:19 which is a bit long but we were having so much fun that the game went by rather quickly. There were some great super slo-mo shots, the replays worked well, and the graphics were pertinent.
Yesterday, we signed on at 6:30 PM for the pre-game show and we signed off at 12:30 AM.
Today we went to air at 11:30 AM and closed out the show at 3:30 PM.
Tired? Yes.
Tiring? No.
I am very fortunate and very grateful that I work with such fantastic TV teammates.