Thursday, May 31, 2012
I don't usually blog when we don't have a game/telecast but today in New York (an off-day) warrants some commentary. We arrived at the hotel from Atlanta at 2:30 am eastern time. At 2:40 I entered my room to an uncomfortable smell. The hotel was more than happy to give me a new room and at 4:50 (2 hours and 20 minutes later) I received my Cardinals suitcase and hit the hay. The 2 hour delay to get my bag and go to sleep did not bother me as we had today totally off. I awoke at 1:00, showered and went to my favorite deli for a sandwich, chips, and a coke. I went back to the hotel and did the treadmill for thirty minutes. Later, I was reading a great book in my room when our producer, Mike, texted and said he was buying drinks at our favorite Irish Pub in honor of is wife's birthday. Most of our Cardinals TV production team showed up for the happy occasion. After a bit our producer and his wife left for a private dinner celebration. Then myself, our lead tape producer, and our pre-game host left for dinner at a wonderful NY italian restaurant. A plateful of wonderful pasta and a bottle of wine later we departed for our hotel rooms. What a great off day! I know that you who are reading this could care less and I understand that. My point is that off days on the road can be brutal. This off-day was wonderful. Cards at Mets tomorrow. I'm ready.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
This was a tough one. The Braves beat the Cardinals tonight 5 - 4 in 2:43. This was a 1-run game with no drama. None. A TV sports director can elevate the excitement of a game with crisp tight cuts but the game must dictate the when and the why of such a cut. This game offered nothing. I tried to speed up my game cut. I tried to cut tight shots. I tried quick transitions. Nothing. This game offered nothing. Finally, I surrendered to the game. I was alert to the game for any possible change in it's direction. That never happened. I tried and I tried. There was no cooperation. This was a nothing game.
Monday, May 28, 2012
I direct 157 Cardinals games each season. I have probably directed over 3,000 Redbird telecasts during my career. Covering Cardinals baseball means that I am on the road away from my family 2 weeks a month in the summer. Hard to do. Tonight, I had dinner, stories, and laughs with the Cardinals equipment manager Rip Rowan. Travelling on chartered airplanes - nice. Staying in 4-star hotels nice. Covering Major League Baseball for a living nice. Dinner, stories, and laughs with Rip Rowan - a great perk to this job
Sunday, May 27, 2012
Even with the off day yesterday because the Cardinals were on FOX, I was still feeling the effects of Thursday's mentally draining telecast and friday's emotionally draining show. I was still a bit wiped from those two shows when I sat in the chair today for the Phillies/Cardinals game/telecast. The Cardinals won the game 8 - 3 in 2:35. I must admit that I was a bit worried that my concentration level would suffer throughout the telecast but that didn't happen and I was able to maintain focus throughout the show. The Redbirds hit three homeruns today and that certainly helped me maintain focus because homeruns are great fun to cut. I made it through the telecast and felt good about the show even though I was still a bit wiped.. I am now in Atlanta for a three game series with the Braves that starts with a day game tomorrow. Hopefully a good nights sleep will invigorate me. I hope so. Cutting the game mentally and/or physically tired is super difficult. I hope the teams come through with a well-pitched, well-played game. Back to back well-pitched and well-played games are just the tonic I need.
Saturday, May 26, 2012
We had our "This One's For You" telecast for our U.S. military tonight. I look forward to this show every year. Not a single telecast throughout the season has as many elements in it as this show does. There are "shout outs" from the troops in Afghanistan, 4-"This One's For You" keyable elements, live interviews between soldiers in Afghanistan and their spouses, interviews in the booth, Twitter messages throughout the telecast and so on. We even had a live marriage proposal in the pre-game show. The Cardinals had a girlfriend of a soldier serving in Afghanistan throw out the first pitch. Little did this woman know but her boyfriend (who she thought was still overseas) caught the pitch at home plate. When he took off the catcher's mask and she saw him it created one of the most remarkable moments ever in Cardinals baseball television. Her look of utter surprise and then unbelievable happiness was priceless. If you didn't tear up at that moment you don't have a heart. In fact, there was at least a half a dozen times throughout the show that I choked up with a huge lump in my throat. There was a beautiful little girl holding up a sign that said half of my heart(love) is deployed. Soldiers in Afghanistan recognizing family in the stands and pointing to the TV monitor with huge smiles on their faces was wonderful to witness. As I stated in yesterday's blog, I was mentally spent after that huge offensive game. Tonight I am emotionally spent.
The Phillies beat the Cardinals tonight by the score of 10 - 9 in 3:31. There were 19 total runs and 33 total hits. Runs were scored in 9 of the possible 18 half innings. Single runs were scored in 4 innings, two runs were scored twice, there was a 3-run inning and two 4-run innings. This game was all offense which I find very offensive. Cutting a game such as this is very difficult because you can never just sit back, take a breath and regroup. A nonstop onslaught of hits and runs is very draining mentally. I was wiped out after this one.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
The Cardinals swept the Padres tonight by the score of 6 - 3 in 2:52. This game included some big homeruns and some great defense. This game also included the worst first inning ever. Let's recap: Here is what happened in the top of the first inning: The first batter hit a homerun - San Diego up 1 - 0. The next batter singled and was thrown out stealing. The number three batter walked. The next batter was hit by pitch. The next batter singled which put runners on first and third and the Padres led 2 - 0. The next batter grounded into a fielder's choice which scored the runner on third. Padres 3 Cardinals yet to bat. The seventh batter of the inning struck out and the Padres led 3 - 0 with the Redbirds coming to the plate for the first time. Total number of pitches - 26. Here is what happened in the bottom of the first inning: The first batter singled and scored when the second batter doubled to deep centerfield. Padres 3 Cardinals 1. The next two batters made outs. The number 5, 6, and 7 hitters each singled tying the score at three apiece. The number eight batter made out and the game went to the second inning tied at three. Total number of pitches in the bottom of the first inning - 27. 53 pitches, 6 runs, and 8 hits in the first inning alone which took 30 minutes. Developing a rhythm for the telecast - impossible. Finding a flow to the show - impossible. The rest of the game was fairly exciting but the first inning set a bad tone for the game/telecast. Fortunately our veteran crew weathered the storm and provided a fairly clean telecast. No thanks to the worst first ever.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Adam Wainwright tossed his third career complete game shutout tonight as the Cardinals beat the Padres 4 - 0 in 2:34. Wainwright missed the entire 2011 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Wainwright was one of the best pitchers in all of baseball before the surgery. He is very competitive and has not experienced much satisfaction this season with his performance. He is now 3 - 5 after tonight's brilliant performance. After the game, we interviewed Wainwright as he left the field. He became very emotional and actually teared up and had trouble speaking during the interview. This was one of the most powerful moments in my television sports career. This show of emotion brought a lump to my throat. Any sports TV producer or director who covers a specific team knows the importance of leaving personnal feelings about the team and it's players at the door. Adam Wainwright is one of the most cooperative players in all of baseball. Adam Wainwright is a genuine person and a great guy. He is one of our favorite people in all of sports. As he pitched this gem, we were all very happy for him but we were all focused on covering this performance in the best possible way for our viewers as is our responsibility. I am thankful that the postgame interview was the end of our telecast. It would have been very difficult to continue. Powerful indeed.
Monday, May 21, 2012
At 7:55pm during our telecast we lost all audio. We continued to cut the game with no effects and no announcers. A short time later we lost all video on our Fox Sports Midwest feed. Fox Sports San Diego's feed was thus fed to the FS Midwest viewers. However, because our feed went to a very small number of cable viewers we continued to cut the game even though there was no audio. Kudos to the FS San Diego TV broadcast team. They had both audio and video the whole game/telecast but were unable to run commercials. They did a great job adjusting and filled between innings with some wonderful programming. I watched their feed between innings and what they did was very, very impressive. They were on the air and on top of it. They nailed it. I can't remember ever losing audio and video for most of a telecast. A rarity indeed. As I have stated before, the great thing about live television sports is that I learn something each and every time I sit in the director's chair. What did I learn tonight? FS San Diego's telecast team is very, very good.
Saturday, May 19, 2012
For the Cardinals Fans/viewers this was a pretty uneventful game/telecast. The Redbirds were really never able to amount much of an offense against last season's Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw as the Dodgers won the game 6 - 0. When presenting Cardinals baseball, we on the St. Louis TV crew are always looking for a special moment, a moment that is memorable to the viewer. We are always looking for a moment in the game/telecast that only the viewer at home sees and not the fan in the stands. We succeeded in that endeaver tonight. During the bottom of the 7th inning, LA Dodgers rookie, Justin Sellers, connected on his second career homerun. Sellers will never be known as a homerun hitter. He is a contact batter at the plate so homeruns will be few and far between for him during his career. Cardinals pitcher, Jake Westbrook, was none too pleased with the homerun. This led to our most successful replay sequence of the 2012 season. After the homerun the Cardinals made a pitching change. During the commercial break for the change our Producer cued up both players, Sellers and Westbrook, as they left the dugout tunnel for the clubhouse. As Sellers left the dugout for the clubhouse he was all smiles as he returned high fives with his teammates. Westbrook left the dugout for the clubhouse very angry with teammates leaving him alone. This obvious contrast described the game perfectly. Tomorrow, when Cardinals fans talk about this game/telecast, this is the moment they will remember. A great, great sequence.
With the Cardinals down 5 - 4 in the top of the ninth inning Lance Berkman hit a two out homerun on a 0 - 1 count to tie the score. Great excitement for the Cardinals fans and quite a let down for the Dodger faithful. The Dodgers won the game in the bottom of the ninth on a walk-off walk. Great excitement for the Dodger fans and quite a let down for the Redbird faithful. I was wondering after we were off the air if there can be any loss more painful for a ballclub and it's fans than a walk-off walk? I don't think there can be any loss more difficult to swallow than a walk-off walk loss after your team just tied the score with a dramatic homerun. After the homerun, we were saying in the TV truck "Are you kidding me?" Covering a walk-off walk loss for television leaves the TV crew to feel cheated. It's like the show didn't end. After the walk-off walk, we were saying in the TV truck "What just happened?"
Thursday, May 17, 2012
My God I was bad today. Awful. It wasn't that I couldn't get a rhythm going. I did develop a rhythm. In fact, I developed a rhythm quite a few times during the game/telecast. That was the problem. I couldn't sustain the rhythm and the reason was that I had a difficult time all game staying focused. I can't use the fact that it was a shitty game because most of the games we have televised in the past 10 days have all been shitty and I have been able to stay focused. Perhaps I am revolting mentally against the poorly played, poorly pitched games that we have televised in the past 10 days.. The best TV directors in sports have all mastered the art of staying focused during a complete game/telecast. Also, all TV sports directors will go through moments of certain games where the focus has lagged a bit. This is only natural. I can use the excuse that staying 100% focused for 157 baseball games is darn near impossible and I would be right in that assumption. That reasoning, although true, does not make the fact that I had trouble focusing today any easier to swallow. Today I was awful. Tomorrow I will be better.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
I love the San Francisco visiting TV crew. I love AT&T Park in San Francisco. I love the city of San Francisco. I love the press room in AT&T Park in San Francisco. I love the hotel we stay in San Francisco. I love Lori's Diner in San Francisco. I love Field's Book Store in San Francisco. I love the coffee shops in San Francisco. I love that I can walk to AT&T Park from the hotel in San Francisco. This is my favorite stop in all of baseball. I love San Francisco.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
As I stated in this blog last night there is nothing better than cutting a Cubs/Cardinals game. These games are always a blast to cut. The Cardinals beat the Cubs 7 - 6 with a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth. This came after the Cubs tied the game with a solo home run in the top of the ninth. Great fun! We televised one of our best segments ever in the open today. We broke down the coverage of a relay play where the Cubs threw out a Cardinal baserunner at the plate. We used a video box out of the Fox Box showing the runner in the first angle and made great use of the telestrator in the second angle. This segment set the scene for the rest of the show. We delivered a crisp, clean, quality telecast that was great fun to be a part of. Cubs/Cardinals television - great fun! As always.
Monday, May 14, 2012
The Cubs beat the Cardinals at Busch Stadium tonight by the score of 6 - 4 in 3:15. The most fun I have when I direct Major League baseball is when the Cardinals play the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Coming in second as far as enjoying cutting a Major League baseball game is when the Cubs play the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. The teams could be good or the teams could be bad. It doesn't matter. The Cubs have not won a World Series since 1908. The Cardinals have won two World Series in the last six years. It doesn't matter. The Cubs are not very good this season and the Cardinals are quite good. It doesn't matter. There is something infectious when these two clubs play. The TV crew feels it, the fans feel it, and the two ballclubs feel it. The game could end in extra-innings. The game could end in a walk-off fashion. The game could be a blowout either way. It doesn't matter. It's the Cubs/Cardinals!
Sunday, May 13, 2012
Excruciating is defined in the dictionary as "extremely painful". This is the perfect word, in fact, the ONLY word that can describe today's Braves/Cardinals game. This was definitely the most difficult game to televise during this 2012 season. From the first pitch of the game to the final out there was not one moment of good baseball. Not one. This game just never flowed. Ever. Even when there is no flow to the game the TV production team must still try to establish a flow to the show. As much as we tried this just did not happen for us today. This 3:33 minute game was extremely painful. This game was excruciating.
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Throughout a Major League Baseball season, we televise 157 games. We travel with the team on their airline charters, we ride on their buses and we stay at their hotels. There are even instances where we might even ride in a cab or hotel shuttle with the players to the ballpark. Because of this, we form relationships with the players. Of course some relationships are stronger than others. One of the players that we on the TV crew have a great relationship with is Adam Wainwright. Adam is one of the nicest people you could ever meet. Wainwright missed the whole 2011 season after Tommy John surgery. He has struggled a bit in his return and this is very understandable. However, when we cover St. Louis Cardinals baseball we cannot and will not let our personal relationships with players get in the way of our coverage. Wainwright had one of the worst outings of his career tonight. Our commentary and our graphics covered this outing in a very honest way. We did not sugar coat this outing and we did not bury Wainwright. We covered this game as total professionals (as always) and this was a quality telecast. We would like the Cardinals to win every game but if they don't and a player has a bad game we cover it. Nothing personal.
Tonight's telecast was one of my all-time favorites. The Cardinals retired Tony LaRussa's #10 and there was a huge and classy pre-game ceremony. Our game telecast began at 6:45 which allowed us to air 3 of our 4 pregame commercial positions before the ceremony began at 7:00. This allowed us to cover the complete ceremony without commercial interruption. A great move my Fox Sports Midwest! This was one of our greatest telecasts ever. Throughout the show, we aired many "LaRussa moments" as bumps to break. Tony joined us in the booth for an inning which was spectacular. The Cardinals lost the game in 12 innings but they had the bases loaded twice (in the 9th and 10th) and didn't score. Covering those situations was great fun. We had LaRussa iso'd and the replays of his reactions were wonderful. During the 19 seasons that I have worked with Mike our producer I have never seen him more on top of things. This show clicked. This was one of those telecasts that are special even before we go to air. Everyone on the crew was pumped and everyone delivered. I was very proud to be part of this network quality telecast. Telecasts such as this one that have a "theme" to them are very, very special. LaRussa's retired # telecast and the Troops in Afghanistan telecast are so much fun to be a part of. And these shows are often our best of the season. Tonight's show was one of my all-time favorites!
Doing Cardinals telecasts on the road can be quite difficult. Not, however, in Arizona. I did the Phoenix Coyotes for 4 years (1997 - 2000) and I know many on the crew. Because of our familiarity with each other, we are able to achieve a good flow to every show. The TD is excellent, audio is outstanding, the tape room works crisply, the cameras are always shaded well by video, the camera operators know the game and work hard and our announcers are very comfortable with the stage manager. I wish we would do more than one series a year in Phoenix. All in all, this is one of the best stops in the National League. Love Arizona!
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
I enjoy writing this blog about the night's game/telecast. Tonight's show was very comfortable. There was a nice flow to the show and there were two home runs hit by Carlos Beltran of the Redbirds of which one was a grand slam. But I don't want to write about tonight's game/telecast. I want to comment on something more important. Something that will affect every game/telecast the rest of the 2012 season. These guys are good! When these guys are good, we have to be good. The pressure is on. We have to deliver each and every night because the 2012 St. Louis Cardinals will deliver on each and every night. I had the same feeling during the 2004 Major League season when the Cardinals won the Central Division by 13 games with a 105 - 57 record. I had the same feeling during the 2005 Major League season when the Cardinals won the Central Division by 11 games with a 100 - 62 record. The St. Louis Cardinals fans and the St. Louis Cardinals TV production team are both very spoiled. At the start of every season we feel that the Redbirds will compete with the best of Major League baseball. In 2004 this feeling of success grew to a feeling of expectation. In 2005 this feeling of success grew to a feeling of expectation. This season, 2012, this feeling of success has also grown into a feeling of expectation. These guys are good.
Monday, May 7, 2012
The Cardinals/Diamondbacks game/telecast this evening was very enjoyable. The afternoon started off in a great way as I met up and caught up with Mitch the Diamondbacks TV director. Mitch is one of the most talented TV baseball directors in the business and I really enjoy talking shop with him. He told me the starting pitcher for the D-Backs was really pitching well. He was throwing strikes and he was working fast. This is good to know as one prepares for a game/telecast. The pace of the pitcher will dictate the pace of the game and knowing the pace of a pitcher before the game is very beneficial to a director. Mitch was right. This starter had a brisk pace. Unfortunately for this pitcher, he only lasted 3 1/3 innings giving up 9 hits (with 3 homeruns) and 7 runs (with 6 runs earned). As I wrote in my book Cutting The Game, Inside Television Baseball From The Director's Chair, cutting the homerun is the most fun a TV baseball director can have during a game/telecast. There were 6 homeruns in tonight's game, 5 by the Cardinals including back-to-back homeruns twice, and a homerun by the D-Backs. This was one of my favorite night's of the 2012 season. A visit with a good friend and a talented baseball director and a game with six homers. An enjoyable evening indeed.
Sunday, May 6, 2012
Every television sports production team wants the show to go nice and smooth. Tosay's game/telecast did just that. The Cardinals combined some excellent pitching with some power at the plate and won the game 8 - 1. This was a very comfortable telecast with a great flow to the show. A few times during the game I went to the Houston Astros telecast for replays and they were well executed. There was not one moment of indecision during the telecast and that is just the way we like it. Nice and smooth. I am now in Arizona and I am looking forward to another rewarding telecast tomorrow with the Fox Sports Arizona crew.
Saturday, May 5, 2012
The Astros beat the Cardinals tonight in 2:40 by the score of 8 - 2. The Astros third baseman hit a grand slam home run in the bottom of the first inning on an 0 - 2 count to give the Astros a 4 - 1 lead. The other three baserunners all reached base on walks. A very poor start for the Redbirds to say the least. As the game continued on, the distinct feeling that the game was basically over gradually made it's way into the picture. When this occurs, staying focused becomes a difficult task. Trying to find the "little things" becomes a challenge but this is a good way to "stay in the game". A highlight of the telecast was Astros first baseman, Carlos Lee, fumbling and juggling a throw from the shortstop during between innings warmups. His reaction was pricelss and became a quality moment of the telecast. When a game seems over or is poorly played or poorly pitched staying focused or "staying in the game" can be a real challenge for the TV broadcast team. Our TV team succeeded tonight.
Friday, May 4, 2012
This was a game that started out bad. After 2 1/2 innings the score was 5 - 4 in the Astros favor and there were 3 errors and a balk committed during this embarrassing play. The feeling in the truck was "here we go again". We maintained our focus (unlike the play on the field) and were rewarded with some nice play on the field. The pitchers began to pitch and there was a nice flow to the show and a nice pace to the game. Innings 4 through 8 were the exact opposite of the first three innings. Our rhythm in the truck matched the rhythm of the game. Our patience during the first part of the game and our focus during the middle part of the contest was rewarded during the top of the ninth inning. With the Astros still maintaining their 1-run lead, the Cardinals lead-off batter singled to start the inning. What happened next was our sure reward for our previous due diligence. The next Redbirds batter hit a tiny pop fly to the second baseman. The Astro's second baseman made one of the nicest plays I have ever witnessed. Because of the little popup the baserunner at first was in between. If he ran towards second base the second baseman catches the ball and doubles him off of first base. Instead, the second baseman caught the ball on a short hop, flipped to the shortstop who tossed the ball to first to complete a double play! A great play indeed. The next batter struck out and the Astros prevailed 5 - 4. From bad to good to great describes this game perfectly.
Thursday, May 3, 2012
The producer of any sports telecast can and must control the pace of the telecast. The producer of any sports telecast can never control the pace of the game. The pace of the game can be a producer's best friend or it can be a producer's worst enemy. The past three games of the Pirates series at Busch Stadium were all perfect examples of a worst enemy. These games had absolutely no pace. The times of these three nine inning games were 3:04, 3:11, and 3:26. The pace of the game is directly related to pitching. The pace of these games were directly related to Pittsburgh's pitching. Memo to the Pittsburgh Pirates: Start in the minor leagues. Start in rookie ball which is called low A. Teach your pitchers how to pace. Teach them how to "get the ball and go." There is a reason why the Pittsburgh Pirates have had 19 consecutive losing seasons - no pace pitching. By the way, the pace of our telecasts was fine despite the excruciating pace of the games.