Sunday, April 29, 2012

Foretelling The Future

It was the bottom of the 5th inning and the Cardinals were leading the Brewers 1 - 0. The Cardinals starting pitcher was on third base with one out. A fly ball was hit to centerfield that was certainly deep enough to score the run from third base. But, the Redbirds baserunner broke for home on contact, reversed direction to tag up but it was too late and he stayed at third base. Our announcers talked about the blunder and said that they hoped the starting pitcher would not take his mistake to the mound in the top of the sixth inning. They mentioned that the third base coach did not repremand him for the blunder because he didn't want the pitcher (baserunner) to think about the mistake while he was on the mound. They mentioned that this particular pitcher had a history of letting mistakes affect his performance. Before the top of the sixth inning the Cardinals catcher went to the mound and, once again, our announcers mentioned the possibility of a big inning for the Brewers. "(The catcher) is trying to keep (the pitcher) focused on pitching." Well, as predicted, the Brewers scored all three of their runs in the sixth and won the game 3 - 2. Anticipation is a valuable tool for any TV sports director. Because of the commentary from the booth I was able to anticipate the play on the field and the camera shots and replay sequences worked. Off tomorrow and then the Pirates come to town.

Friday, April 27, 2012

2 Different Games

The Cardinals beat the Brewers tonight by the score of 13 - 1 in 2:34. I cut two different games tonight. The Cardinals starting pitcher, Jake Westbrook threw 7 innings allowing 7 hits, 1 earned run, no walks and 5 strikeouts. He threw 101 pitches with 69 strikes. The Brewers starting pitcher, Yovani Gallardo, lasted only 2 innings allowing 8 hits and 8 earned runs. He threw 68 pitches -39 strikes and 29 balls. When Westbrook was on the mound we were able to develope a nice flow to the show. He worked fast and threw strikes. With Gallard, finding arhythm was very difficult. The Cardinals led 10 - 1 after three inning when they plated 8 in that inning. With the game basically over at that point I was really proud of our St. Louis TV crew. Everyone still worked hard and never once slacked off. Brian McCann produced his first game of the season and did a great job. This is the type of game where people could "mail it in". Blow out games are definately fun to do if you are on the winning side but we would all prefer a well-pitched game by both teams. The Cardinals are on FOX tomorrow so our next telecast is Sunday. Zack Greinke against Jaime Garcia. I looking forward to a 2 - 1 game.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Working Two-gether

Televising sports requires a total team effort. The are two main parts to every telecast. There is the tele and there is the vision. The tele part is supplied by the announcers in the booth and the vision aspect is supplied by the TV truck. The vision part of the TV truck also consists of two parts - the camera operators and the tape room. The camera operators must listen to two different sources - the announcers and the director. The director listens to two different sources - the announcers and the producer. The tape room listens to both the producer and the director. In turn, the announcers deal with two aspects as far as the tele is concerned - the live camera shots and the video replays and packages. The quality of every telecast depends totally on the meshing of the two sources that every member of the telecast must deal with. Today's Cardinals/Cubs telecast was a perfect example of what happens when the whole TV team works with both sides of the telecast. The tele and the vision become television when the sources are equally intertwined. Just like today's telecast.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Learned A Lesson And Proved It

As I wrote in yesterday's blog, I learned a valuable lesson when I was not prepared for a Cubs walk-off victory. I proved that tonight in the Cardinals/Cubs game/telecast. The Cubs won again in walk-off fashion by the score of 3 - 2 in ten innings. Remembering last night's debacle, I iso'd the winning run, the game winning batter, the Cubs bench with a push from the batter and the Cardinals reliever who took the loss. The final cut of the game worked. It was tight and concise and told the story. But the final sequence was not even close to the best aspects of our telecast tonight. The Cubs scored a run in the bottom of the first inning on a sacrifice fly. However, our replays clearly showed that the runner never touched home plate. Then, in the bottom of the 10th inning (when the winning run scored) the second base umpire blew a call on a steal attempt. The second baseman of the Cardinals actually blocked 2nd base with his spike and tagged the runner for a sure out. However, once again, our TIGHT camera shot of the second base bag (framed left) clearly showed the baserunner never touched the base. This runner eventually scored the winning run. These two camera shots and replay sequences were the best of our season. Indeed, they were a couple of the best moments we have ever had on Cardinals television. I love what I do for a living. I learn something every game/telecast.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Learning A Lesson

Tonight's Cardinals/Cubs game at Wriglet field was everything that a Cardinals/Cubs game at Wrigley should be. The game between these two fierce rivals was intense with great pitching from both starters. The Cubs won the game with a 2-out, 2-run walk-off single by former Cardinals Joe Mather. A typical scenario for a matchup between these two clubs despite the fact that the Cardinals are a very good ballclub and the Cubs are rebuilding. In fact, coming into the game the Cardinals were 11 - 5 and led the 4 - 12 Cubs by 7 games only 16 games into the season. I just offered my excuse for my terrible cutting of the game winning walk-off basehit. I prepared myself totally, 100%ly (is that a word) for a Cardinals victory. I had the Cardinals closer Jason Motte iso'd as well as Redbirds manager Mike Matheny. Never in a million years did I even think the Cubs would win this game. It never crossed my mind. Even with the tying run on third base and the winning run on second base I never once thought the Cardinals would lose this game. It did not help matters that Mather took the first two pitches (fastballs) down the middle for an 0 - 2 count. Well, Mather singled and the Cubs won and my coverage was awful. Terrible. Talk about embarrassing. Trust me - I learned a lesson tonight.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Nicely Done

The Cardinals beat the Pirates today by the score of 5 - 1 in 2:38. This was a very clean telecast. We had our "regular" Pittsburgh crew and they were stellar. Despite the fact that this was a dual feed telecast we had a good telecast with concise camera shots and excellant replays. I like working in Pittsburgh. The ballpark is beautiful as it fits into the downtown area and we can walk to our hotel after the game. The crew is professional and very friendly. Nicely done Pittsburgh. I am now in my hotel room in Chicago. We have two night games followed by a day game at Wrigley Field in the next three games. I write about Wrigley Field in my book Cutting the Game, Inside Television Baseball From the Director's Chair. I love Wrigley Field. We will be televising in a side by side situation and I hope our telecast will be as clean as today's show. Cardinals/Cubs at Wrigley Field. It doesn't get any better than that. I hope at the end of the telecast I can say "Nicely done."

Saturday, April 21, 2012


MEMO TO A FELLOW CREW MEMBER TONIGHT Guess what fellow crew member - I love what I do for a living. This is my 29th year of televising Major League Baseball and I have seen every single type of crew member in the business. I have seen the very talented who love what they do and are very successful. I have seen the not so talented work there ass off, love their job and be successful. I have seen the ones who try and try and try and just about get there but they keep trying and every so often they deliver a quality product. I have seen the crew members who don't give a hoot and are just there to pick up a paycheck. And I have seen the worst of the worst. The member of the crew who doesn't care and doesn't care that we know he doesn't care. Well Mr. Doesn't Care guess what? You don't affect the other members of the crew who do care. You don't affect us one little bit. In fact, you make us better because we work harder to make up for your lack of quality. We have a name for you Mister Doesn't Care - Mr. Invisible.

Friday, April 20, 2012


We started a 3-game series at Pittsburgh with another rare exclusive feed. With the Pittsburgh Penguins playing the Philadelphia Flyers at home tonight in the fifth game of their first round Stanley Cup Playoffs the Pirates did not televise. Exclusives are usually a very nice change from the dual feed and the comfort level does go up. Things were a little different tonight however. The truck was super nice but the engineers had never worked out of PNC Park before. The regular Pittsburgh TV crew were all working the playoffs. Our substitution crew was very professional and did a great job despite the fact that many of them rarely worked baseball. The crew was from all over the country. One was from Buffalo, New York and another from Dalton, Georgia etc. Even during road telecasts there is a bit of familiarity between the visiting broadcasters and the local crew. Not tonight. We had never worked with this crew and they had never worked with us. The telestrator crapped out early and the Fox Box was nevere able to animate. We solved that issue by losing the bug at the third out and inserting it after the operator moved it to the lower third position. No big deal. All in all this was a nice telecast. The Cardinals won 4 - 1 in 2:38.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


The Cardinals have started the 2012 season with a 9 - 4 record and thirteen games into the season they lead the NL Central Division by 3 games. This team has played some very good baseball.
Not today.
When a team is playing well the TV production team responds and the coverage is crisp and clean. The trick is to maintain that quality of coverage when the team is not playing well.
Easier said than done.
Today's game/telecast was one of those great shows where our production excelled despite the fact that the Redbirds laid an egg. True, the Reds starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo pitched great but the Cards did not play one of their sharper games.
Still, we had a very good telecast. I believe our show was so good because there really was some great communication today between the truck and the booth. Our Producer, Mike Helling has really stressed the importance of communicating and today's telecast reaped the rewards of this message. There was never a moment of doubt from any member of our TV team today and it showed. The quality of the play on the field should never determine the quality of the telecast.
The number one factor that determines the quality of a telecast is communication.

Not a Fan

I am not a fan of blow outs.
At all.
The Cardinals beat the Reds 11 - 1 scoring 3 runs in an inning 3 times and 2 runs in the other inning.
Don't get me wrong, I want the Cardinals to win each and every game. but I would rather direct a 2 - 1 nail biter than an 11 - 1 blow out.
I also believe that baseball fans like well-pitched, well-played games better than blowouts. This was proved tonight. Over half of the 35,907 fans in attendance were gone by the time the game was over.
I will never admit to being disinterested in the game I am covering because I love the game of baseball, but 11 - 1 baseball games can be very trying to everyone on the TV telecast team. We had a very nice clean game/telecast tonight but our deliverance of the product was a chore.
Blowouts - NOT A FAN.

The Bad and the Good

The Cardinals beat the Reds tonight by the score of 2 - 1 in 10 innings. The Redbirds won the game despite the fact that they played a bad game. They were 0 - 9 with runners in scoring position and they stranded 14 men on base.
Games such as this can be very difficult to cover on television. The TV production team can get just as frustrated as the team on the field that is not executing gets during a game/telecast.
Despite the fact that during the game the Cardinals seemed to be winning by a wide margin the score was tied going to extra innings.
To make matters worse, the Reds scored an unearned run in the top of the 8th to tie the score.
Our coverage was still very good despite the fact that the Cardinals were not executing well at all.
And because of this, our efforts were rewarded by the baseball Gods.
The Redbirds won the game in the bottom of the 10th inning on a walk-off sacrifice fly which included a bang/bang play at the plate. Walk-offs are a blast to cover. There is the live action followed by the celebration and both of these moments are invigorating.
This was a bad game with a good ending and a good telecast with a great ending.

Nicely Done

The Cardinals beat the Cubs 10 - 3 in 2:35 to take the series 2 games to 1. The Redbirds starting pitcher, Jake Westbrook, was spectacular. He went 7 innings allowing 4 hits, 1 earned run, 1 walk, and 2 strikeouts.
Nicely done Jake.
We had a very, very nice clean telecast. The crew was on top of their game. The camera operators captured the "moments", the audio was crisp and the tape room excelled.
But I believe the highest quality of work came from our graphics department. Keith and Danny were exceptional at the right moments. They offered concise and interesting notes throughout the telecast.
The best TV sports production teams are the ones that are able to adjust to the game action. Too many of these TV "teams" are stuck in their ways and air crap (graphics and video packages that have nothing to do with the game action) because they built them in pre-production and "damn it" they are going to make air.
Graphics may be the single most important tool for the TV team as they adjust to the game.
Keith and Danny nailed it today.
Nicely done!

2012 Home Opener

This is the only telecast of the season where the pre-game pomp and circumstance is of more importance to the viewer than the game. Indeed, the viewing numbers for the pre-game ceremony are huge and, in fact, bigger than some of our regular season telecasts.
Because of advertising commitments, it is a very difficult task to cover the complete pre-game ceremony live.
Thanks to Mother Nature, this seasons' pre-game ceremony went off without a hitch.
The ceremony did not start for two hours because of rain. therefore, we were able to air 2 of the 4 scheduled spots during the rain delay. The viewership for the home opener pre-game festivities rose throught the ceremony.
Unlike the game.
The Cubs scored 4 runs in the first inning, 4 runs in the third inning and 1 run in the fourth inning to lead 9 - 0 before the Cardinals batted in the fourth inning. The game/telecast went in the opposite direction of the pre-game ceremony. The later the game went on the more our viewers turned off.
The Cards ended up losing 9 - 5 as well as the viewing audience.
But, we nailed the pomp and circumstance.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Rare Exclusive

Season record on FSN Midwest 4 - 1.
We had our first road game exclusive of the 2012 season as the Reds did not televise today's game. I believe that every single game should be televised by every team. The fact that a game is not televised tells me that the team management of the club whose game is not on TV does not really believe that their ballclub is very good nor very entertaining. The excuse always given is that it is a "cost" factor. True, it does cost anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000 per telecast but that is a pittance compared to the value of each telecast to the coffers of the team. This is very subjective, I know, but I also know that all professional sports teams should have the attitude that their "product" is worth televising.
Three words....National Football League (NFL).
They only have 16 games in their season you say.
I say there is no difference between 16 games (NFL)and 162 games (MLB). What? Aren't all games of the regular season important? By not choosing to televise all of a team's games shows that team executives place a higher value on certain games over other games.
The argument here is that there are more potential viewers for night games than day games so certain day contests are eliminated from the telecast schedule.
Here is how I answer that premise:
Scenario: Day game/no TV. Your ballclub wins the game and your pitcher throws a perfect game. The other team showed the game to their fans and therefore the game was produced, directed, and announced by the other team's broadcast production crew. Not yours. A great opportunity to sell tickets is lost.
Take today's game against the Reds. The Reds won the game with a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth against their bitter rival the St. Louis Cardinals.
That game/telecast would have sold a boatload of tickets for the Reds.
I am so blessed to be a part of the St. Louis Cardinals TV production team!
The Cardinals have it figured out.
Every game is on television.
No wonder they sell OVER 3,000,000 tickets every year.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Once Again

Season record on FSN Midwest 4 - 0.
The Cardinals beat the Reds tonight by the score of 3 - 1 in 2:33.
Once again the Redbirds jumped out to a first inning lead with a solo homerun by Carlos Beltran.
Once again the Cardinals starting pitcher, Kyle Lohse, pitched exceptionally well going six innings allowing 4 hits and 1 earned run. He struck out 2 and walked 1.
Once again the Cardinals bullpen excelled. Mitchell Boggs and Jason Motte retired the last 9 Reds batters.
Once again Cards third baseman David Freese was stellar at the plate and in the field. Freese was 2 - 3 with a 2-run homerun and a walk.
Once again the clubhouse was comfortably confident before the game.
Once again I will state that this ballclub is very, very good.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Same Old Same Old in Cincinnati

Season record on FSN Midwest: 3 - 0.
The Cardinals continued their winning ways tonight as they beat the Reds 7 - 1. I could have written that the Cardinals continued their DOMINATE ways tonight as they beat the Reds but then I would hear from readers comments like "It's only 5 games into the season.......blah, blah, blah.
After the first two Redbird batters were eliminated in the top of the first inning, the Cards proceeded to hit 3 homeruns before the final out of the inning to take a 4 - 0 lead. This was only the fifth time in team history that they accomplished this feat.
This is my 29th season of televising Major League Baseball. (4 with Minnesota and 25 with St. Louis) The atmosphere of this clubhouse and the confidence of this team is unlike anything I have witnessed during my career.
Just 5 games into a 162-game schedule may be jumping the gun for predicting success for any team in baseball.
In all probability, it IS jumping the gun.
Not this team.
Not this season.
There will be only one factor that will determine whether this team succeeds or not and that is health.
A healthy 2012 St. Louis Cardinals team will be the most successful team ever.
Mark my words.

.These Guys are Good

We opened the season in Milwaukee.
The season opener was pretty uneventful. The Brewers don't even come close to the pomp and circumstance of a St. Louis Busch Stadium opening day. That being said, we covered the Cardinals' introductions for the pre-game show as best we could with our three cameras. The Redbirds won the contest 11 - 5 and hit 4 homeruns. Despite being in the backend of a dual feed we had a fairly clean show considering there were 16 total runs and 26 total hits.
The Saturday game was on FOX so we had the day off. I watched the game on television as the Cardinals were shut out by the score of 6 - 0.
The rubber game on Sunday was won by the Cardinals by the score of 9 - 3. This was a very clean telecast. This, I admit, has been a very boring blog thus far. My excuse for this is the fact that both of our FSN Midwest telecasts were painfully uneventful. However the most wonderful aspect of working in television sports is the fact that one learns something each and every game/telecast.
Our record on FSN Midwest is now 2 - 0 for the regular season.
(The Cardinals won the season opener in Miami while playing on ESPN)
(The Redbirds lost there first telecast on FOX)
This is what we on the St. Louis Cardinals FSN Midwest telecasts have learned thus far this season - the 2012 Cardinals are very, very good.
Future Hall of Fame manager Tony LaRussa is gone.
Future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols is gone.
Probable future Hall of Famer Dave Duncan is gone.
The winning atmosphere of St. Louis Cardinals baseball is still around.
More than ever.
This is my 25th season as a part of the St. Louis Cardinals telecast team.
I have never been so excited about the prospects of a baseball season.