The Cardinals clinched the 2011 National League Wild-card with a 8 - 0 victory over the Houston Astros on the final day of the regular season.
This means two things to our Cardinals TV crew.
1 - Every game of the 2011 season was meaningful.
2 - We had the good fortune to cover the post-game celebration in the locker room.
However, this coverage had an odd twist to it. The Cardinals had to wait for over an hour for the outcome of the Phillies/Braves game which was in extra innings.
Fox Sports Midwest stayed on the air with the post game show during this long wait.
This patience paid off!
With two cameras in the locker room, we captured the celebration as it began immediately after the Phillies defeated the Braves.
Usually the celebration begins on the field so capturing this moment was rare indeed.
Covering these celebrations is a blast.
There is the usual mayhem with communications problems between the truck and the announcers in the clubhouse. Last night the ear piece of one of our announcers did not work and, despite the fact that the noise in the clubhouse was incredibly loud, the live coverage worked.
Every game for the season was memorable.
We covered a post-game celebration as the team made the playoffs.
The St. Louis Cardinals TV production team is blessed!
As the St. Louis Cardinals TV producer, Mike, and I were walking from the ballpark to the hotel here in Houston after our game/telecast, Mike made this comment; "I like the fact that we are still doing meaningful games as we are about to televise the 161st game of the season. In fact, I would rather televise a meaningful game than a game where the Cardinals are 10 games up and have clinched a post-season spot".
I couldn't agree more.
Televising the games of the past ten days has been great fun.
Staying on top of the action with my game cut during meaningful games is so much more enjoyable than cutting any meaningless game.
For the TV crew, a meaningful game keeps everyone alert.
The camera shots are crisper and the game cut flows.
Without argument, meaningful games are more enjoyable for the viewer as well.
The Cardinals are still 1 game out of the wild card with 2 games to play.
I can assure you that the fans of the wildcard leader Atlanta Braves are enjoying their game/telecasts with the Philadelphia Phillies as much as the Cardinals TV viewing fans.
I can also assure you that the TV broadcast team in Atlanta is enjoying the game/telecast as much as our St. Louis TV team.
I am truly looking forward to tomorrow's game/telecast.
It is 9:30 pm and I just arrived in my room in Houston as we get ready for the last three telecasts of the 2011 season.
I write in my book Cutting The Game, Inside Television Baseball From the Director's Chair (now available on the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes and Noble Nook) that cutting the homerun may be the most fun a TV baseball director has during a telecast.
After today's game/telecast, I would like to amend that chapter.
While it is true that cutting a homerun is great fun, I now believe that cutting the final out during a huge victory at home is the most fun a TV baseball director can have.
Today's home game against the Cubs is a perfect example of this scenario.
The Cardinals took the lead in the bottom of the eighth inning on a homerun by Rafael Furcal.
This 3 - 2 lead held up in the top of the ninth inning and the Cardinals prevailed.
There are many factors that are responsible for the excitement at Busch Stadium during today's game and, in fact, for the whole homestand.
On August 25th, the Cardinals were 10 1/2 games out of the wildcard race in the National League. And, the Milwaukee Brewers had basically sewn up the Central Division crown with a 25 - 4 run after the all-star break.
In essence, the Redbirds were "out of it".
Today's win combined with Atlanta's loss to the Nationals means that the Cardinals are 1 game out of the wildcard with 3 games to play.
That Cardinals play the worst team in all of baseball - the Houston Astros who are 55 - 104, and the Braves play the best team in all of baseball - the Phillies who are 99 - 60.
I am looking forward to cutting the final outs of the next three games.
I arrived in my door at 2:15 am Tuesday morning from Philadelphia and went right to be without writing the blog. Last night's game/telecast between the Cardinals and Mets from Busch Stadium went long and I again went right to bed when I got home.
Both game/telecasts were very similar. There is a play-off type atmosphere as the Cardinals continue battling for the Wild Card with the Atlanta Braves.
After the Cardinals defeated the Phillies on Monday, the Florida Marlins defeated the Braves in what could be considered a "miracle" victory. With two outs and nobody on in the bottom of the ninth inning with the Braves leading 5 - 4, the Marlins batter hit a high chopper to third base and future hall-of-famer Chipper Jones lost the ball in the stadium lights! The next batter hit a walk-off 2-run homerun and the Marlins won the game!
This moment led to what I believe may be the greatest piece of video we have ever aired on Cardinals television.
At the moment of the homerun, our sideline reporter was interviewing Cardinals manager for post-game sound. The interview stopped when you could here loud cheering coming from the clubhouse.
The interruption of the interview was priceless!
During last night's telecast, we aired the interview while inserting a video box of the game- winning homerun coverage from the Braves/Marlins telecast.
We had a new TD last night who did a superb job.
There are so many different transitions and video keys to the FSN Midwest show that a technical director (TD) who is not versed on the show may have some problems. Not so tonight.
The Cardinals are 2 1/2 games out of the wild card chase with 8 games to go. They cannot afford to lose another game.
I'll tell you what - this makes for fun television!
The Phillies clinched their fifth straight NL East divisional crown tonight by beating the Cardinals 9 - 2. The Phils scored 6 runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to put the game away.
The 6-run eighth may have iced the game for the Phillies but the big 8th inning threw kerosene on the fire for the 45,470 fans at Citizens Bank Ballpark.
This place was electric all night long!
TV crews feed off that energy.
The St. Louis Cardinals travelling TV party includes the producer, director, lead tape producer and graphics guru. All other members on the remote TV production team are hired locally. In most cases, the members of the visiting telecast crew are fans of the home team.
Therefore, with the Phillies winning and on their way to another crown, the crew members on the St. Louis Cardinals feed were really into it. They were feeding off the energy of the crowd.
The camera shots were crisper, the audio was spot on, the cameras were shaded perfectly and the production was a huge success.
One of our best shows of the 2011 season!
Covering a clinching game for the opposition is certainly not as fun as covering a Cardinals' clincher but it is still loads of fun.
Thinking ahead on isos and planning shot sequences is a blast.
Our replays tonight were terrific , our graphics were succinct and to the point, and the rollout was sweet.
Each and every member of the Cardinals/Phillies telecast tonight contributed to a high quality telecast.
The Cardinals beat the Phillies 4 - 2 tonight in eleven innings.
This game delivered just what was to be expected.
If the Phillies win and the Braves lose, the Phillies clinch the NL East division.
If the Cardinals win and the Braves lose, the Cardinals move to within 3 1/2 games in the NL wild card race.
Early into the game the Braves were losing 11 - 2 to the NY Mets.
The crowd knew what a Phillies win meant and the energy in the ballpark was electric.
Both team scored in the second inning and the game was 1 - 1 going into the 8th inning.
With one out in the top of the eighth inning Yadier hit a homerun off of the left field foul pole giving the Redbirds a 2 - 1 lead.
The Mets threatened to score in the bottom of the eighth but the score remained 2 - 1 going into the bottom of the ninth inning.
With two outs and no runners on base Ryan Howard hit a pinch hit double to right field. The next batter hit a fly ball to the corner in right field and the Cardinals right fielder dropped the ball allowing the tying run to score!
Extra innings came with the scored deadlocked at 2 apiece.
The Cardinals scored two runs in the top of the eleventh inning and the Phillies threatened with the tying run on base in the bottom of the inning but did not score.
This was a great game/telecast to be a part of.
Two teams playing great baseball.
The ballpark was electric!
September baseball is either great, great fun or a complete drag.
For teams still in the hunt these games are exciting.
Take tonight's Cardinals/Phillies game - just what was to be expected.
It is often said that if you watch baseball long enough you will see something you have never seen before.
Tonight's game between the Cardinals and the Pirates is a prime example of that adage.
During the bottom of the 5th inning, the Pirates seemingly scored on a sacrifice fly. The Cardinals appealed the play at 3rd base and the runner was ruled out for leaving early by the third base umpire. However, our replays showed that the runner didn't leave early and the umpire missed the call.
Albert Pujols, the Cardinals 1st baseman made 3 errors in a game for the first time.
In the bottom of the 6th inning, the Pirate had runners on first and third with no outs. After a strikeout, there was a fly ball hit to the right fielder. The first baseman, Pujols, cut off the throw to the plate an tagged out the runner from first before the run scored and the Cardinals were out of the inning. Just a horrible baserunning blunder.
Apart from these oddities, this was an exciting game for the Cardinals fans. The Redbirds won the game with a two run ninth inning by the score of 6 - 4.
There was another close play at third base in the bottom of the ninth inning but, despite the loud boos from the crowd, the umpire made the right call.
An exciting game full of rare moments - fun indeed.
The Pirates beat the Cardinals in 3:01 by the score of 6 - 5.
The Bucs scored 3 runs in the bottom of the eighth to take a 6 - 4 lead and the top of the ninth inning had me on the edge of my seat.
The Pirates had their All-Star closer, Joel Hanrahan, on the mound and things looked bleak for the Redbirds.
The Cardinals lead-off batter singled to right field.
The next batter was thrown out on a great play by the shortstop.
The Cardinals were down 6 - 4 with one out and a runner on second base.
The next Cardinals batter singled and the Cardinals had runners on first and third with one out.
The Pirates threw a wild pitch, a run scored, and the other runner advanced to second base.
With the Cardinals now down 6 - 5 the next batter walked.
With runners on first and second, the next batter hit a ball right down the first base line. The first baseman was guarding the line and made the play. The Cardinals had runners on second and third with 2 outs and the score 6 - 5.
I was on the edge of my seat!
With the great Albert Pujols on-deck, the next batter struck out on a 2 - 2 count.
This was a bad loss by the Cardinals but one of the most exciting finishes of the season.
Believe me, cutting the game from the edge of my seat is a blast!
The Cardinals beat the Braves in a must win game by the score of 4 - 3 in 10 innings.
There were many highs and lows in this game.
Low - The Cardinals were behind 2 - 0 after the top of the first inning.
High - The Cardinals scored a run in the bottom of the first inning and were behind 2 - 1.
Low - The score stayed 2 - 1 until the top of the ninth when, after the first two batters made outs, the Braves scored a run to go ahead 3 - 1.
High - The Cardinals tied the score in the bottom of the ninth after there were two outs.
Low - The Cardinals ran themselves out of the inning with a baserunning mistake.
High - The Redbirds won the game in the bottom of the 10th inning with a bases loaded sacrifice fly.
This telecast was spot on.
Our iso's in the bottom of the 10th inning captured the moment in quality fashion.
The mantra of a professional athlete is to never get too high and never get too low.
The same may be said for the TV baseball production team. Don't let the "lows" affect the coverage of the "highs". It can be easy to get down when your team is not succeeding. But this attitude will affect the quality of the coverage.
There were many highs as well as lows for our TV production team tonight. We didn't get too "down" with the "lows" and we didn't get too "up" with the "highs".
Chris Carpenter beat the Brewers tonight with a complete game shutout.
This wonderful game, this well-played, well-pitched, and well-paced game took 2:05 as the Cardinals prevailed 2 - 0.
Our telecast had a great pace the whole evening.
Until the top of the ninth inning that is.
We planned on doing our closing billboards after the first batter.
Billboards are an element of each telecast that helps pay for the telecast and are thus necessary.
The first batter of the top of the ninth inning, Nyjer Morgan, struck out after an 11-pitch at-bat and we went to our closing billboards.
During the billboard read, Morgan began cursing at Chris Carpenter and the benches cleared. We finished the billboard read and joined the fracas on the field.
Sometimes live television coverage does not go as smoothly as one would hope. We rejoined the action on the field and showed replays that clearly explained what happened on the field. Morgan was ejected which we showed live. The game ended with three more pitches and one of our best game/telecasts of the season was over.
Sales elements are a necessary function of every telecast.
The shot of the night during tonight's game/telecast occurred in the bottom of the third inning. Matt Holliday hit the second homerun of the inning for the Cardinals into the right field seats. The fan who caught the ball was seated next to what we surmised to be his father who we guessed was holding his grandson.
The crowd was already pumped by the first homerun of the inning by Jon Jay and Busch Stadium was rocking.
What was so amazing was that the grandson was sleeping.
The crowd was going crazy and the toddler slept right through the noise even while his father caught the Holliday homerun ball.
We kept going back to the shot throughout the game/telecast and the young boy was asleep the whole game.
Our announcers would periodically say "I wonder if that kid is still sleeping" and sure enough he was.
This shot was a wonderful sideline to the game and never distracted from the game coverage.
This was one of our most enjoyable telecasts in the past few weeks.
They are 10 1/2 games out of first place with 21 games to play.
As the season continues to move to the "meaningless" games stage, the telecasts become increasingly difficult to direct. Cutting meaningless games becomes tougher to do because, like the team, the telecast crew can lose the "edge" needed to deliver a quality product.
As I write in my book Cutting The Game, Inside Television Baseball From the Director's Chair (now available on the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes and Noble Nook) the TV baseball director, in order to deliver a quality product, must respect the game, the players, the fans, and the TV crew.
By respecting these different facets of the telecast, the director is able to maintain that edge to a certain degree.
Just as the best players in the Major Leagues are the ones with the highest respect for the game, their teammates, and the visiting players, the most successful TV baseball directors are the ones with the highest respect towards the aforementioned facets of the telecast.
This respect is absolutely needed as the baseball season winds down and the games become meaningless in the win/loss column.
The Reds beat the Cardinals 3 - 2 in 10 innings today in a game that lasted 3:26.
I was talking with a friend of mine a week or two ago and he told me that he was listening to a radio baseball game from the early 1970's and the announcers started complaining because the game was taking longer than 2 hours and 30 minutes.
I realize that the game has changed in the past thirty years and there are many reasons for the length of games today.
Certainly television plays a big role in the length of games because of the commercial time between innings.
Also, I believe, the umpires could speed up the game by calling the strike zone the way it is meant to be called.
Pitching is the name of the game when it comes to the pace of the game. There are just too many pitchers who do not or cannot throw strikes.
"Specialty" pitchers also contribute to the length of the game time.
You have a 7th inning guy, an 8th inning "set-up" pitcher and a closer. Just look at the difference in the number of complete games in the 1970's compared to the complete games of today.
I know I am complaining about this wonderful game and the way it is played today, but I am complaining because I love the game of baseball and I don't like it when this beautiful game is disparaged because of it's pace.
The Reds beat the Cardinals tonight by the score of 11 - 8.
There was plenty of action in the 3:15 contest as there were six homeruns swatted during the game.
Tonight's game was our "This One's For You" telecast where we honor our brave men and women fighting for our freedom in the military. We had a hook-up with troops from Missouri who were watching the game from Bahgram Afghanistan.
This was one of those telecasts where the game becomes secondary.
It is an honor to be part of our "This One's For You" telecast and I am proud to be a part of our TV production team during this wonderful event.
At one point during the telecast, we had the wife of one of our Missouri troops live in the booth. We surprised her and her husband who is stationed in Afghanistan as neither knew they would be able to talk to each other.
I put the in a two-box so that they were on the air at the same time. This woman, who was celebrating her 50th birthday, was so wonderfully surprised that she started crying on the air.
This was one of the most touching moments that I have ever been involved with during my career.
With my eyes watering and a huge lump in my throat, I tried to cut this most memorable moment interspersed with game action. I could barely talk and, in fact, was whispering my commands to the technical director (TD).
The Cardinals beat the Brewers 8 - 4 in 2:57 today to complete a three game sweep and thus keeping their slim playoff hopes alive. The Redbirds are now 7 1/2 games out with 25 to play.
As I wrote in my book Cutting The Game, Inside Television Baseball From the Director's Chair (now available on the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes and Noble Nook), cutting the homerun is great, great fun for a baseball TV director.
This game had seven homeruns!
Homeruns are a good deal more fun to cut when the production team is not in the back end of a dual feed as we were today, but cutting the homerun is still fun indeed.
With 7 homeruns and 23 strikeouts, the pace of the game will suffer. This most certainly accounts for the 2:57 time of game.
I worked with a TD (technical director) for the first time and he was excellent! I especially liked his Minnesota Twins cap.
All in all, this was a pleasurable day in the director's chair.
That's right.....cutting a baseball game was fun.....again.