Saturday, May 21, 2011

Pitching and Pacing

The Cardinals beat the Royals today by the score of 3 - 0.
This was the exact score from yesterday with the Royals the winners.
I have tried to post my blog from that game and have been unable to do so. I will keep trying to post it.
There was one difference between these two games and the difference came down to one player - a relief pitcher for the Royals.
While every other pitcher in the game, and there were seven total, pitched with a good pace and with good command, the final Royals reliever was painful to watch.
Slow to the plate.
Slow between pitches.
12 balls and 12 strikes.
Throw a pitch....wait for the return from the catcher....walk behind the mound....mop the brow....and repeat.
It would be understandable if a Royals infielder walked to the mound and smacked him across the side of the head.
Pitchers that work slow apparently don't watch the game when they are not on the mound.
Well let me explain something to you slow working pitchers: THE BEST PITCHERS ARE THOSE WHO WORK FAST AND THROW STRIKES.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Once Again.

Another great telecast.
Another great game.
I liked this telecast because we dictated the quality of the show.
As TV sports production teams know, the game plays a huge part in dictating the quality of the show. A poorly pitched and a poorly played game are a classic example of how a game can make the telecast unsuccessful.
The best TV sports production teams do not and will not let the quality of play dictate the quality of the telecast.
Take tonight's Cardinals/Royals game. This was a well-pitched, well-played game that was full of intensity. In fact, the turning point of the game came when the intensity on the field diminished and the Royals scored three runs late in the game.
The St. Louis Cardinals TV production team did not lose intensity and, therefore, did not let the game dictate the quality of our telecast.
The quality of our telecast matched the quality of the game.
Our next test after a huge run of great game/telecasts will be when we run into a stinker of a game.
I am confident we will deliver quality baseball television.

Once Again!!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Getting Spoiled

There was a :55 minute rain delay to start the game today.
But the rain didn't dampen the spirits of our telecast crew as we have been spoiled by three great game/telecasts of this four game homestand.
Despite a steady drizzle during the game, the Cardinals starter Kyle McClellan tossed a gem in a game completed in 2:15.
McClellan threw 68 strikes and 28 balls in eight innings of work. He was constantly ahead of the batters and thus the game was brisk.
There were great plays in the field by the Cardinals making this game as well- played by the Redbirds as it was well-pitched.
Our telecast had a nice flow and the crew was always on the same page.
All four telecasts from this homestand were exceptional.
As I write this, I am sitting in my hotel room in Kansas City where the Cardinals begin a three city nine game roadtrip.
I can't wait for the game/telecast tomorrow.
I know it will be exceptional.
I've been spoiled.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

3 In A Row

Three straight excellent telecasts.
The difference between tonight's show and the previous two telecasts was that this game dictated our decisions while we created moments in the first two shows.
The pace of tonight's game/telecast was brisk. The game was well played and well pitched and was completed in 2:26.
I do not remember any "wow" moments in tonight's telecast but there was a great flow to the show.
Most game/telecasts differentiate between a good flow and some choppiness. The key is to develop a flow to the show despite the flow of the game.
Tonight's game had a nice flow to it the entire evening and our telecast matched this flow the whole night.
It is true that there are some games that, despite the greatest efforts of the production team in the truck, are impossible to develop a flow to the show at any time during the game/telecast. These are the most frustrating of game/telecasts and, I believe, the main reasons for the dreaded truck dreams.
There will be no truck dreams tonight.
I look forward to tomorrow's telecast.
We are on a roll.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Special Show

After last night's game/telecast, I blogged that the show was the best of the 2011 season.
However, if tonight's telecast wasn't the best show of this season, it certainly was the most special.
One of the themes we followed during the show concerned Yadier Molina and a young fan with a medical problem from Puerto Rico who was a guest at the game of Molina.
Although it wasn't a Make-A-Wish moment, it certainly followed along those lines.
We established the theme early in the telecast and followed it throughout the show.
During the game, Cardinals' third base coach Jose Oquendo stood next to the young man who was located in the photographers well next to the Cardinals dugout.
Also, Molina drove in the first run of the game with a double and as he arrived at second base, he pointed to the young fan in the dugout who pointed back to Molina. Our best replay sequence of the telecast occurred after this play as we really captured this special moment.
Then, in the bottom of the ninth, with the score tied at 1 - 1, the Cardinals had the bases loaded, Lance Berkman at the plate and Yadier Molina standing next to the young fan in the camera well!
How lucky can one be!!!
Berkman got a base hit, the Cardinals won and I cut to Molina and the young fan as they both ran on the field to celebrate. In fact, I established the winning run running down the third base line to score and cut off the runner before he touched home plate to capture the moment of Molina and the young fan.
I am still wondering if I cut too early to Molina and the young fan.
I may have cut too early but following this theme of our telecast really created a special show.
In fact, the most special show I have ever had the privilege to be a part of.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Best of The 2011

Tonight's telecast between the Cardinals and Phillies at Busch Stadium was our best telecast of the 2011 season for many reasons.
We aired our best replay of the year. This replay showed Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee almost being killed by a line drive. Lee obviously didn't have time to react and the ball hit him near the stomach. He reacted and threw the batter out at first base. When the play occurred, i held my breath. I even uttered "wow" because this situation was so remarkably dangerous.
This play was included when we aired a video segment titled "A game of inches."
This video sequence included a bang bang play at 1st base, a close play at 2nd base on a steal, a double play with a bang bang outcome (out) at 1st base, and the Cliff Lee dangerous play. These angles were all shot from the super slo-mo camera.
This telecast was one of those shows that just clicked.
All TV sports production personnel know telecasts of this type.
Every one of us in this business looks forward to a telecast of this sort.
It seems that when plays are covered during these telecasts in a high quality, more plays are offered by the game and the coverage of these plays are of an even higher quality.
The best become better.
The telecast grows and grows in quality.
The action on the field rewards us in the TV truck with more and more wonderful plays to cover and the coverage becomes better and better.
Tonight's game/telecast was the best example of the type of game that rewards the telecast for it's coverage.
No doubt this was our best show of 2011.
Thus far.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

From Nothing to "Are You Kidding Me!"

The Cardinals entered the top of the ninth inning in today's game trailing the Reds 9 - 2.
The entire game was played in a steady drizzle and the play of the game matched the level of excitement only a steady drizzle can equal. Apart from the back-to-back homeruns by the Redbirds in the second inning, there wasn't a memorable moment during the first eight innings of this game. These two runs were the only tallies of the day for the Cardinals as the game entered the ninth inning.
The drab, dreary weather and the drab, dreary game were both equally responsible for the size of the crowd to be about half of the announced 32 thousand plus when the game entered the ninth inning.
A Reds reliever started the ninth and walked 4 of the first 5 batters and the score became 9 - 3. The control problems of this pitcher are well documented and, as expected, a new pitcher was brought into the game.
This pitcher was greeted with a double and the score became 9 - 5.
The Reds closer was brought into the game and was greeted with another double and the score changed to 9 - 7 and the great Albert Pujols was coming to the plate.
Are you kidding me!
We were going crazy in the truck!
The Reds closer throws a pitch up and in and hits Pujols on the left wrist.
A scary moment for all Cardinals fans. Albert stayed in the game and the leading batter in the National League, Matt Holliday, was in the box.
You gotta be kidding me!
Matt hit a picture perfect double play ground ball to the shortstop. True to the form this game had taken, the Reds botched the double play and runners were on first and third. Coming to the dish was Lance Berkman. Lance Berkman holds the record for the most home runs and most rbi by a visiting player at the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati.
Are you kidding me.
The energy in the TV truck was unreal.
The Cardinals were not only going to tie this game, they were absolutely going to win it.
Back in 2005, the Cardinals overcame a 9 - 3 deficit in the top of the ninth at this same ballpark. Amazingly, we played a flashback of this comeback to start the inning.
As Berkman entered the batters box, we aired a graphic showing that he was 0 - 13 in his career against this pitcher.
Berkman struck out on a 1 - 2 count and the game was over.
Are you kidding me!

Saturday, May 14, 2011


It is the same for every Major League baseball player as it is for every Major League TV production crew member.
What kind of effort are you giving to insure the success of the game/telecast?
For the viewer at home, the effort of the player on the field is obvious.
However, the viewer at home may not as easily discern the effort of the TV production crew member.
A player doesn't hustle and the viewer at home will easily see that.
The viewer at home will never be able to distinguish whether or not a member of the TV team is not "putting in the effort."
In fact, and it is a fact, most TV executives are unable to discern when a TV crew member is "mailing it in."
In the TV truck, however, any member of the broadcast crew that is "mailing it in" is immediately identified.
Trust me, these members are IMMEDIATELY identified by the rest of the crew. These members are thus chastised by the rest of the crew and, in most cases, replaced by techs who are eager to be a part of a successful telecast.
Whether or not you are a seasoned veteran or a rookie trying to make your mark in this wonderful business, the effort you put in towards the success of the telecast, is totally identified by the rest of the crew.
The stronger your aim, the stronger you will be accepted by your peers.
Effort - the name of the game.

Friday, May 13, 2011


I have been unable to blog since Friday because the blogspot website has been down.
The telecasts from Saturday and Sunday at Wrigley Field were not typical telecasts of the Cardinals/Cubs rivalry. The crowd was not "into it" and the games had a different flavor to them. I guess the quality of the Chicago Cubs has diminished so much that the Wrigley Field "home" crowd really didn't add much flavor to the game/telecast.
I was very disappointed with the atmosphere at Wrigley Field.
There was no intensity.
I can't recall one instance during these game/telecasts from Wrigley where I was pumped and excited during a particular moment of these telecasts.
I have not become too old and too cynical to not appreciate good baseball television. This series, a series that typically offers many moments of compelling TV baseball, offered little, if anything, of compelling TV.
After the three-game series at Wrigley, we flew to Cincinnati for a weekend series with the new "hated" rivals the Cincinnati Reds.
I was anxiously awaiting the intensity of this rivalry and I wondered how to capture this intensity on the telecast.
The Reds won with a walk-off base hit and our coverage was exceptional.
Is there any intensity involved on Major League baseball anymore?
During the 2011 season, I have yet to find it.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Twas a strange day.
There was a 53 minute rain delay in the third inning that really disrupted the whole game/telecast.
Things were not the same after the rain delay.
Before the rain delay there was a good flow to the show.
53 minutes later, the whole game/telecast took on a whole new feel.
The game will dictate to the TV crew exactly what message it wants delivered.
Tonight's message was especially difficult for the telecast teams, both home and road, to deliver.
Bad baseball is hard to present in a positive manner.
Tonight, good,solid play was rare to present to the wonderful Cardinals/fans/viewers.
There was bad baseball tonight during the Cardinals/Cubs matchup.
We can and we will show Cardinals baseball in it's best possible light.
I believe we accomplished that goal tonight.
But, that was hard to do.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

One Inning

This was a strange game.
The first inning took 35 minutes as each starter threw over 30 pitches each.
The first inning was game one.
Innings two through nine were game two.
There was no rhythm and no flow in the first inning for the pitchers and for the telecast.
This first inning was just as frustrating for the TV crew as it was for the pitchers.
Getting into a flow is very important for the telecast crew. Just as important for the success of a pitcher finding that flow.
After the rugged first inning, the pitchers starting flowing and so did the telecast.
I was greatly anticipating this game
Cardinals at Cubs.
Wrigley Field.
Nothing better.
Take away the first inning and this game rocked.
The starting pitcher and the TV crew cannot, must not let one inning affect the outcome of the game.
Tonight's starting pitchers settled in and so did the telecast.
This was a typical Cardinals/Cubs game telecast out of Wrigley Field.
A close game that was not decided until the final out.
Too bad the first inning almost ruined the experience.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Food = Gem

On Friday night I ate dinner with the Producer and Director of the Milwaukee Brewers' telecasts. That night, the Cardinals starting pitcher went into the 8th inning with a perfect game!. The Cardinals won the game 6-0 in 2 hours and 2 minutes.
Saturday afternoon I ate with Brewers' TV team and that night the Brewers starting pitcher had a no-hitter into the 8th inning as well. The Brewers won the game 4-0 in 2 hours and 29 minutes.
Today, I was eating with some guys on the Cardinals TV crew when the Brewers TV production team arrived in the press room for breakfast and I joined them for the last 15 minutes of the meal. The Cardinals starting pitcher was throwing a 3-hit shutout into the ninth inning. The Cardinals won the game 3-1 in 2 hours and 41 minutes.
Well pitched = well played = well paced.
Just the type of game every TV baseball director loves to cut.
I just have to figure out how to have the pre-game meal with the Brewers guys before every game.
By the way, we are leaving tomorrow for 3 games at Wrigley (love it!) with the Cubs followed by a weekend series in Cincinnati. My new ipad2 is not letting me blog on this website. I am going to let the electronic genius Keith Olbermann O'brien (our Duet operator) figure out what I am doing wrong so that I might blog after these two series.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Back To Back

Cutting a baseball game when a pitcher is threatening with a perfect game or a no-hitter is great fun for a television baseball crew. These scenarios don't happen very often but when they do the rush is incredible.
The whole crew is pumped. I wrote about this subject yesterday when the Cardinals pitcher threw a perfect game into the 8th inning.
Well, the Brewers pitcher was throwing a no-hitter into the 8th inning of today's game!
Back to back games of no-hit baseball going into the 8th inning - this just doesn't happen.
I wrote in my book Cutting The Game, Inside Television Baseball From the Director's Chair that the most fun a TV baseball director can have during the game is cutting a homerun. There is usually at least one homerun hit during the game and cutting a homerun is certainly a blast.
But there isn't anything that describes the feeling and emotion in the TV truck as a perfect game or no-hitter is unfolding.
There is a rush like no other during these times.
The Detroit Tigers' Justin Verlander threw a no-hitter today against the Toronto Blue Jays.
My buddy "Ice" either produced or directed that game.
I can promise you - Ice is still pumped and that game was completed 6 hours ago.
We didn't have a no-hitter or a perfect game the past two days but just the threat two days in a row is incredible.

Back To Back

Friday, May 6, 2011


The Milwaukee Brewers came to St. Louis tonight to start a three game weekend series.
I enjoyed dinner in the press room with the Brewers TV producer Chris Withers and their director Mike Oddino. During our conversation, we talked about the Twins' no-hitter against the White Sox that occurred a few days ago and we were jealous of the Twins TV director, Matt Gangle, who directed the no-hitter.
A perfect game is the ultimate for a TV baseball crew to televise with a no-hitter coming in second.
Wouldn't you know it, Jamie Garcia of the Cardinals had a perfect game going into the eighth inning.
Trust me, when a TV baseball crew is in this situation, EVERYONE is pumped.
EVERYONE on the crew is "on fire".
Every shot is tight.
Every replay is perfect.
Every graphic is concise.
The audio is "on point".
The telecast is "working".
During the break before the top of the 8th inning, our producer Mike and I began discussing "isos" for the top of the ninth inning if the perfect game or no-hitter was still possible. We wanted Garcia, Molina (the catcher), the crowd, and LaRussa (manager) and Duncan (pitching coach).
After the first out of the 8th inning, Garcia walked a batter to end the perfect game. The next batter singled and the no-hitter was over.
Even though a possible part of baseball history was now over our crew remained focused as we covered a possible Cardinals' complete game shutout.
This complete game shutout occurred and our iso's worked.
However, my choice of shot selection after the final out did not capture the excitement of the moment as well as I had hoped.
Before the final pitch was thrown, I made a decision to cut to Garcia immediately after the final out followed by a shot of LaRussa and Duncan followed by the shot of Molina congratulating Garcia.
The shot of LaRussa and Duncan did not work as little emotion was shown and therefore, my shot of Molina/Garcia was a bit late and not as effective as I had hoped.
However, this was a great game/telecast and it was thrilling.
I know I was thrilled to be a part of it.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Look At The Numbers

It is now Thursday, May 5th @ 9:15 pm CST.
I did not blog about yesterday's game/telecast because the game took 3:35 to play and I arrived home @ 12:40 am. Today's game was at 12:45 with the pre-game show starting at noon. Because of the day game, I went to bed when I got home last night because my alarm was set for 7:00 am.
Why am I telling you this you ask?
I had originally planned to write a separate blog for each game/telecast tonight but the two games were so incredibly different that I decided to write on blog concerning both games.
Yesterday's game took three hours and thirty five minutes to play.
There were 15 runs, 21 hits, 5 errors (4 by the Cardinals), and 10 walks.
The Marlins threw 24 first pitch strikes to the 40 batters they faced.
The Cardinals threw 25 first pitch strikes to the 44 batters they faced.
This means there were 49 first pitch strikes and 35 first pitch balls.
Add these numbers up and it is easy to see that this was a poorly played, poorly pitched, and therefore, poorly paced game.
Today's contest was 59 minutes faster than last night's with a game speed of 2:36.
In today's game there were 9 runs, 16 hits, 0 errors, and 8 walks.
The Marlins had a poor first pitch strike ratio with only 16 first pitch strikes out of 35 Cardinals batters.
The Cardinals on the other hand threw 26 first pitch strikes to the 34 Marlins batters
The pace of the game was set by the Cardinals starter Jake Westbrook. Westbrook threw 23 first pitch strikes to the 26 batters he faced including the first 14 batters he faced.
As last night's game went on the temperature dropped by 15 degrees and Busch Stadium became colder and colder thus affecting the energy of the crowd.
Today's game was played in beautiful 60 degree weather and the crowd was into it.
2 different games in 2 days.
One game was a blast to cut and one game was torturous to cut.
The numbers don't lie.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Highlights of the Show

TV sports production teams pride themselves in airing unique video that the fan in the stands doesn't see.
Finding video that the fan in the stands doesn't see is one of our goals each and every telecast. Tonight, we captured three moments that helped us succeed in this goal.
One of the themes that our announce team developed tonight described how important repetition was for a player during each game.
How does a batter get ready for each at-bat? Each batter has his own unique way of preparing to hit when he is at the plate. Lance Berkman came to the plate and we showed how he places the end of his bat on the plate while the pitcher is taking the catcher's signs. Then, as the pitcher goes into the stretch or begins to wind up, Berkman places the bat on his shoulder as he gets ready for the delivery. Berkman did this in exactly the same manner for every pitch.
In the truck, we looked for a similar example of preparation by a pitcher and we found a great example by one of the Marlins pitchers.
A reliever for the Marlins had a unique manner of foot movement before each delivery. As he went into the stretch, he lifted his left foot then his right foot and repeated this movement twice before delivering the pitch.
Both of these examples were captured live and the teamwork between the truck and the booth worked to the max. The video from the truck and the audio from the booth captured these two examples perfectly.
The third example of our goal of showing the viewer at home something the fan in the stands doesn't see occurred when our Ultra-Mo camera operator pointed out to the tape crew that his shot showed the Cardinals pitcher changing his grip on the ball after a come=backer to the mound. Every defensive player wants to throw the ball with his fingers across the four seams of the baseball. This pitcher caught the ball in the air (after it hit off his glove) in a two-seamer grip. He changed the grip to a four seam grip and we had it captured perfectly from the Ultra-Mo camera.
This great moment was aired because of the teamwork between the camera operator and the tape crew.
Once again the weather was cold and the attendance was sparse.
The atmosphere at the ballpark wasn't what the St. Louis TV baseball crew is used to and, as I wrote in yesterday's blog, it was not what we prefer.
However, the highlights of our telecast more than made up for the atmosphere of Busch Stadium.

A Different Feel

There has been a different feel during our home telecasts this season. Because of the cold, wet weather the crowds at Busch Stadium have not been as large as we have come to expect for the last ten seasons or so.
The atmosphere at the ballpark plays an important part to the quality of the telecast. Forty thousand screaming fans creates an energy that the TV crew feeds off of and this energy really contributes to a successful, aggressive telecast.
The TV crew seems to "create" more memorable moments during a game/telecast when the crowd is large and boisterous. It is so easy to get "into" the game/telecast when the ballpark if full and the crowd is going nuts.
It is just as easy for a TV crew to become complacent when the crowd is sparse and seemingly not into the game.
In St. Louis, we have been very fortunate that Busch Stadium is usually full and the best fans in baseball are usually really into the game. It is a blast cutting the game when the game is on the line and the crowd is going crazy. These moments fire up the crew and the telecast becomes sharper.
I really respect my colleagues who televise games out of stadiums that have sparse crowds. I believe that our difficult jobs which consist of many split second decisions during a game/telecast (decisions that affect the ultimate quality of the show) are made more difficult when there is little or no energy from the crowd. Kudos to those TV production teams that still "create" memorable moments during those telecasts featuring small crowds at the ballpark.
The first month of the 2011 season has proven to me how spoiled I am being able to cut the game at Busch Stadium. I miss the full houses and the boisterous fans.
I am sick of the cold and the rain.
I miss the energy of a full Busch Stadium.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


For the longest time I dreaded going to Atlanta to televise Cardinals games. The crew talked incessantly and frankly they were mediocre at best. In fact, I tried to take the Atlanta trip off each year because it was such an awful experience.
Not anymore.
From the technical director (TD) to the stage manager today's Atlanta crew was exceptional. The camera operators work hard and find great shots. The replays from the tape crew are quickly cued up and ready to go. The audio mix and the video shading was fantastic.
Exceptional and fantastic were words that used to be unheard of when describing the work of the Atlanta TV techs.
While the quality of TV baseball crews across the country has really diminished of late, the quality of the Atlanta TV baseball crew has grown in a different direction.
They got better!
While flying home to St. Louis on the charter I thought of this crew and wondered why they have improved so much. I came to this conclusion. There is a real "team effort" involved with all members of the Atlanta crew. This TV crew really like each other and as a result they really "pull" for each other. This Atlanta crew truly wants to produce the best TV baseball coverage possible.
We telecast Friday and today and both shows were of high quality.
Thanks to the Atlanta crew!