Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Inning and The Telecast

In a telecast's most basic form, there is a beginning (the open), a middle (the game), and an end (the wrap-up).
The major themes or stories of the game are established in the open.
These themes or stories are revisited throughout the game and summarized near the end of the game with graphics or video packages.
Each half inning carries the same characteristics of the game.
In an inning's most basic form, there is a beginning (back from commercial), a middle (the game), and an end (going to commercial).
Each inning can carry a theme. The theme is established before the first pitch of the inning. This theme is revisited throughout the inning, and summarized while going to commercial.
Today's telecast included an excellent example of this type of inning.
The manager of the Atlanta Braves is Bobby Cox. Mr. Cox is retiring after this season following a hall of fame career. This was to be the last game he would manage at Busch Stadium.
We returned from break with a full screen graphic outlining the career of Mr. Cox.
Later in the inning, we showed video of a pre-game ceremony from last night in which the Cardinals organization presented Bobby Cox with a beautiful signed picture of Stan The Man Musial. Stan was a boyhood idol of Bobby Cox.
Throughout the inning, our announce team talked about Mr. Cox and we put him on camera in the dugout.
The inning ended with a shot of the Stan Musial picture on the outfield wall followed by a shot of Bobby in the dugout.
We established a theme.
We followed through with the theme.
We ended the inning with shots that provided a nice recap.
Not every inning works out this well and, certainly, not every telecast.
But, it can be very satisfying when this does occur.
There is just such a nice flow when this happens.
A nice flow to the show.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


The most important responsibility of EVERY sports television producer and director is integrity. Integrity comes from respect.
I write a chapter in my book Cutting The Game, Inside Television Baseball From the Director's Chair ( about respect.
The production team MUST respect the game, the players, and the fans.
All actions from the TV production team that disrespect the game, the players or the fans destroy the quality of the telecast.
When the integrity of the game is damaged, the fan is insulted.
We have all witnessed instances of a player's integrity being questioned. When this occurs the damage to the player's reputation is deadly.
Respect the game and the telecast is successful.
Respect the player and the quality of the telecast is enhanced.
Respect the fan and the numbers of your viewers will grow.
St. Louis Cardinals' telecasts respect the game.
St. Louis Cardinals' telecasts respect the players.
St. Louis Cardinals' telecasts respect the fans.
The integrity of St. Louis Cardinals' telecasts can NEVER be questioned.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

XMo Cam

We have found a home for our super slo-mo camera.
We experimented with both mids (1st base and 3rd base), left field corner, and tight centerfield. The past two games the XMo camera was located in the Cardinals' low first base dugout.
The pitch follows were beautiful.
Swings from both left handed and right handed batters were nice.
A tight pickoff attempt at 1st base was exceptional.
Taking this camera live is no longer a problem as far as video quality is concerned.
Love super slo-mo!
Our telecast tonight did a great job of revisiting the themes we established on the open. One of our four segments in home game opens is called 5 in :55.
During this segment, we pick five players who may have an inpact on the game and air highlights of these players for 55 seconds total. Late in the game we air a lower third 5-box with headshots of the 5 in :55. This lower third recaps exactly what these players accomplished during the game. This is a very nice feature that adds quality to the telecast.
I predict that this element will be a sold feature before long.
I am not a fan of three announcers in the booth.
However, our side line announcer has been joining the play-by-play and color analyst for an inning every game. This segment of our telecast has proved to be very entertaining. The personalities of the announce crew really come out and the quality of the telecast improves.
Good stuff!
There is an aspect of our telecast that I have come to question.
I believe that there is too much information on the relief pitcher's graphic.
The most important stat for a relief pitcher is how much this pitcher has been used in the past week. For the first half of the season the only stats I want to see on relief pitchers are: recent appearances, innings, hits, walks, and strikeouts.
Wins and losses are not as important to me for these pitchers.
I will bring this up with our TV production team.

Monday, April 26, 2010


Isolated camera shots (Iso's) are very important to the success of football, basketball, and hockey telecasts. The replays of these iso's are the primary replays used in these telecasts.
Television football utilizes iso'd more than any other sport in the covering of this great game. Every hockey telecast has an "iso camera" that primarily shoots important members of a particular team. The best replays in basketball coverage are the replays that iso the most important player of a particular play.
These sports are able to isolate cameras away from the play because these sports are basically one camera sports. One main camera will follow the action until the play is completed. These sports are 180 degree sports where every camera that is used live during action must be on the same side of the field.
Baseball is a 360 degree sport where every camera can be used in the coverage of the play. Therefore, the use of iso's in baseball is not as widely used.
Tonight, I tried to use one of my cameras as an "iso" camera.
I had a mid-1st base and a mid-3rd base camera. I occasionally instructed the mid-third camera to iso certain defensive players.
We really did not get a replay from this "isolated" camera.
The reason that we did not have a replay from this camera is because we did NOT isolate enough.
For the rest of the season during our home telecasts, I am going to use the mid-3rd base camera as an iso camera.
To all producers, directors, and camera fact, to all TV techs and fans - please give me feedback on this subject.
What would make for successful baseball iso's?
Please contact me at with your input.
Thank you.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Thank You

Thank you to the baseball Gods for a well played, well pitched, fast paced game.
Thank you to the San Francisco crew, home and road, for a comfortable dual feed.
We had three different feeds during our three game series against the Giants.
Friday night for game 1 we were in a side by side situation with a full complement of equipment.
For game 2 on Saturday night we were the back end of a dual feed with three cameras and four replay scources.
For today's conclusion of the series, we were in the back end of a dual with two cameras and four replay scources.
Unlike the first two games of the series, we were over-the-air and utilized a commercial reel for about 75% of our breaks for today's telecast.
With only two cameras under my control, I rode the home show's program feed for a good percentage of the telecast. I was able to do this because San Francisco's great director, Jim Lynch, communicated with me constantly throughout the telecast. This communication proved to be invaluable as we had a very clean telecast and a good show.
There is a huge difference of mind set when a production team is in a dual situation. In a dual feed situation, a great majority of the time is used to "protect" the dual feed's telecast. One never wants a jump cut or a whip pan to occur so the director is focused on presenting a "clean" show as well as covering the game.
The dual feed thus limits a director.
Every single director is affected by the dual feed. If a director says that there is no difference in his or her cut when in a dual situation then that director is lying.
It is the nature of the beast.
Indeed, we all understand that the dual feed situation is used because it is a great cost saving tool.
There is no dual feed director who likes to be in that situation but we all do the best that we can.
Thank you to the San Francisco TV team who makes this situation as comfortable as it can be.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


I enjoyed tonight's telecast.
The game was well pitched, well played, and fast paced.
Our open segment highlighted the two starting pitchers who had started the season pitching extremely well.
Because of the 6:05 start, there was only one segment in the open and the highlighted starting pitchers came through and pitched exceptionately well.
There is always enjoyment when the game "follows" the theme of the open.
We had some fun with Fox Trax tonight.
We aired some old footage of Babe Ruth with the Fox Trax animation and the announcers had a great time with that segment.
This proved to be enjoyable as well.
During each telecast we have an audience participation text poll question. We have decided that we want this feature to be game related. Since this may not always be relevant, we have a standard baseball text poll question in the can to use if a game related text question does not come about.
The home plate umpire had a different strike zone early on in the telecast so our text poll question asked what the viewers thought of this umpire's strike zone.
This aspect of our telecast was enjoyable as well.
Despite the fact that the Cardinals lost the game, the most enjoyable part of our telecast tonight was the game.
This game was well-pitched, well-played, and fast paced.
Even in the back end of a dual feed this was a telecast that was enjoyable.
I had fun tonight.

Friday, April 23, 2010

San Francisco - Home Away From Home

I devote a whole chapter in my book ( to the great visitor's crew in San Francisco.
Tonight's telecast was a rare side-by-side show with a common result.
I know how successful our shows are in San Francisco when we are in a dual situation and I was excited to televise in San Francisco with a full show.
During the telecast tonight, I wanted to discover what it is that makes this TV crew so special.
I watched and I listened and I studied and I learned.
As I watched and I listened and I studied and I learned, I came to this conclusion:
1 - this crew loves what they do for a living.
2 - this crew loves the game of baseball.
3 - this crew LISTENS.
1 - this crew gets better and better and learns from every game/telecast.
2 - this crew respects the game and the players.
3 - this crew reacts better than other crews.
When I say this crew listens, I do not mean that they listen only to me. They do listen to me and they give me the shots that I ask them to give me.
However, they also listen to the announcers and react to the play-by-play and color analyst in a concise manner.
During a telecast, I am listening to the producer, the tape room, graphics, and the announcers.
I hear everything.
While I am directing a baseball game, I am constantly talking. While I am talking, I am listening.
The camera operators can hear me and the announcers.
During action, I may be in conversation with the producer about, let's say, a upcoming replay sequence or promotional item.
During this time, the camera operators are listening to the announcers and providing compelling shots. This helps me as the director because I am able to begin following the announcers after being led by the camera operators.
As I wrote in Wednesday's blog, camera operators should never stop working during a telecast. Some of the greatest replays we have had have occurred between innings.
This crew in San Francisco never stops working.
The camera crew is always looking for shots.
The tape room is constantly building packages.
The fox box operator continually keeps the producer and director informed about pitch counts and game stats.
The video operator doesn't just set levels and coast. She rides the levels and the video quality was excellent.
The TD did a great job and was a complete pro.
Our audio engineer fought through some early technical issues and had a nice mix.
Graphics flowed with the show.
Our announce team was very pleased with the stage manager.
Yes, this telecast was a rare side-by-side in San Francisco.
But the result was common for this city.
Thia was a great telecast.
The comfort level while working with the San Francisco crew is very, very familiar.
If I could just put a handle on it...........
Hmmmm.........That's it!!
It's almost like working with our home crew.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Whole Game

Kudos to the three camera operators we had in Arizona for the past 3 games.
We all know that being on the back end of a dual feed is not ideal. One of the ways that the negativity of being on the back end of a dual feed can be lessened is by the work of the camera crew.
If the camera ops are lazy this makes the dual feed experience even worse.
However, if the camera ops work hard and react to situations, the dual feed can be somewhat rewarding.
This was the case in Arizona.
First of all, we are in our own separate mobile unit. This unit that is quite comfortable to work out of which also greatly improves the dual experience.
Tonight's telecast included some great shots from the camera operators that only occured because these three operators were constantly "working" the whole game.
During play, the camera operators were continually reacting and finding great shots.
Between innings, our three operators were "looking" for shots on the field and in the dugouts. The camera operator in our dugout was constantly telling me on headset about shots in the dugout. If he was blocked, and he was blocked by our manager quite often, he would direct our high third camera operator about shots in the dugout.
Great teamwork!!
I would venture to say that at least 75% of all camera operators are shooting crowd between innings. There is a lot of pressure on the camera operators during play and maybe between innings is a good time to take some of this pressure off. However, some of the best shots occur between innings.
A goal of our telecast is to show the viewers at home something the fans at the ballpark do NOT see.
There is more opportunity to capture this goal between innings than during play.
Therefore, it may be more important that the camera operators are finding shots between innings than during play!
This thought was certainly proven during our telecast tonight.
There was a bench clearing incident tonight. Because of this, there was considerable angst between the teams throughout the game.
Tight shots of players faces on both teams captured the angst. I do not recall more shots of anger than we captured last night.
The score was tied going into the ninth inning and the Cardinals scored 5 runs to put the game away. During the top of the ninth inning, tight shots of Cardinals players faces were shots of true bliss.
Professional athletes of all sports live by an unwritten rule;
"Don't get too high and don't get too low".
Tonight's telecast included shots that captured emotions from both sides of this spectrum.
During play, between innings, on the field, and in the dugout, our camera operators were always working. They were rewarded for their hard work with their wonderful shots.
We had a successful dual feed show tonight.
Thank you camera ops.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Viewer Participation

Viewer feedback is an invaluable tool.
Every single baseball TV production team strives to improve from telecast to telecast.
Viewer feedback is the single most important tool that baseball TV teams can use to improve the quality of the show.
There are three types of feedback that are relayed to the members of the TV truck.
There are the viewers that love everything.
There are the viewers that dislike everything.
There are viewers that give their honest opinion.
When is the best time to receive feedback from the viewer?
I believe the best time to receive feedback from the viewer is during the telecast.
There is a difficulty in obtaining this information during the game/telecast.
How does the viewer give feedback during the game/telecast to the TV production team in the truck without disrupting the "flow of the show."?
We utilized a unique tool during our telecast tonight that allowed us feedback that could prove to be invaluable in upcoming telecasts.
There is a text message question that allows our viewers to interact with the telecast during the game.
Every question in this feature - the text message question - has always been a question about the game.
Who is the Cardinals biggest rival in the Central Division?
Who will win the most games as a Cardinals starter?
How many homeruns will Albert Pujols hit?
You get the idea.
Well, tonight we did something different. We tied the text message question into the telecast.
The question was - How often should we show catchers signals?
The three choices were: Never, All the Time, Big Situations.
Naturally, situations won but there were votes for never and always as well.
This feature was a success because the announce team of the PlayXPlay and Color Analyst did a great job of promoting and explaining the question.
I took shots of the catcher's signals during the sequence thus enhancing the question.
My favorite reason of why I love my job so much is that I learn something new with EVERY telecast/game.
EVERY time I sit in the chair, I learn something new.
Feedback usually arrives after the game/telecast from friends and peers and this feedback is wonderful.
Immediate feedback DURING THE GAME/TELECAST is fun and invaluable.
Immediate feedback from viewers is very important in enhancing the quality of the telecast.
The immediate feedback from viewers MUST be objective as this feedback can be immediate.
Subjective feedback must be debated and therefore is useless.
The "Text Poll Question" is a great, great tool for the immediate enhancement of a telecast.
Help improve St. Louis Cardinals' telecasts.
Submit ideas for the "text message poll question" of the game. Contact me at with your question.
Please make these questions telecast-related and not game-related.
I can't wait to hear from you.
Thank you.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Dual Adjustments and Catcher' Signs

It is safe to say that no visiting TV production team likes the dual feed.
The loss of control of your product can be unnerving.
Because of the cost factor, dual feeds are here to stay.
For those of you who do not what a dual feed entails let me explain.
In a dual feed situation, the visiting TV feed is in control of 3 cameras. For most if not all visiting dual feeds these cameras are your dugout camera, the opposite side of home plate camera which can cover your dugout, and a tight center field camera which gives you a batter shot at will.
The centerfield camera, which shows the pitch, and the high home camera, which follows the ball in play, are controlled by the home TV feed and shared by the visitors. All other cameras are controlled by the home TV feed and can be shared by the visiting feed.
I only take the centerfield camera (camera 4) and the high home camera (camera 2) because I know that I absolutely need those camera positions.
There are two reasons that I will not take any other cameras live. First, without control of the camera, I do not know what kind of shot I am getting. Second, if I am on one of these cameras and the home director wants to utilize that camera, I am inhibiting his show by disturbing the rhythm of his "game cut." The visiting show already suffers in quality, I do not want the home show to suffer as well.
I want to make the best of my situation without taking anything away from the quality of the home show.
The most important method for creating the highest quality telecasts for both feeds is communication.
Communication between the two directors is of utmost importance.
Each TV baseball director "cuts" the game differently.
There is no right or wrong in the way a director cuts a game. Each director has his own method.
During tonight's telecast, I learned that I did not communicate with the Arizona Diamondbacks director as much as I should have.
We talked about camera positions and certain camera responsibilities, but I wasn't diligent enough in asking about this director's cut. I like the way this director cuts a game. He is very good and on top of things. But, like I said, we cut the game differently in different situations.
For example, on strikeouts, the Arizona director has the centerfield camera (camera 4) push to the pitcher. On strikeouts, I have camera 4 push to the batter. Each method is fine. The only difference is that after a strikeout, I shoot the pitcher from another camera. If the home feed is staying with the pitcher from camera four and I cut to the pitcher from another camera, it is almost a jump cut and looks terrible.
I finally adjusted somewhat and waited for a replay before I got off the home feed shot of the pitcher, but our sequence after strikeouts early on was awful.
I did not adjust quickly enough to the home director's cut (and a good cut that it is) and our show suffered.
This was the part of our telecast that I was most unhappy with tonight.
There was an aspect of our telecast that I was most happy with tonight.
Catchers signals.
I utilized the heck out of catchers' signals tonight.
Catchers signals ONLY work if there is one sign given. Catchers signals should NEVER be shown when there is a runner at 2nd base. When there is a runner at 2nd base, multiple catchers signals are given and the effect is lost.
I wonder if the viewer would like to know the pitch selection before each pitch is thrown.
Please go to my website and email me with your thoughts on catchers signals.
Would you like to see the catcher's signs before every pitch and therefore know what pitch is being thrown to the batter or not?
Let me know.
I am eager to hear your response.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Opening Predictions

There are four opening segments in our home telecasts. The ideas for these segments generally come from the producer. We televise 155 Cardinals telecasts each season. Imagine coming up with 155 different and fresh opens for each telecast. Not an easy thing to do. In fact, this particular producer function may be the most difficult task that the producer performs during the season.
The open segment or segments prepare the viewer for the upcoming game. The general theme of the show is established during the open. The open is almost a crystal ball which predicts what will happen during the game. Rarely does this "crystal ball" hit the nail on the head and predict exactly what will happen in the game.
Tonight the open predicted exactly what would happen during the game.
There were three main themes outlined in tonight's opening segments.
Theme #1 - The Cardinals were relying on the long ball. In the 1st segment, before we went on camera to our announcers, we displayed a lower third graphic showing a statistic enhancing the fact that a great percentage of the Cardinals' runs came from the homerun this season.
Theme #2 - The Cardinals starting pitcher, Chris Carpenter, pitched great at Busch Stadium. This was his first start at home this season so we aired a graphic showing his excellent 2009 home ERA.
Theme #3 - The Mets third baseman, David Wright, always plays well against the Cardinals. A lower-third graphic over video of Wright showed that he had the highest career batting average for any current active player.
The game:
The Cardinals won the game 4-3 with all their runs scoring on a grand slam homerun.
Chris Carpenter pitched 7 innings without allowing a earned run.
David Wright went 1-3 with three outstanding defensive plays.
The telecast:
This was the most successful telecast of the season.
The opening predictions all came true and were accentuated throughout the telecast as we revisited these themes with graphics and video packages.
A rewarding telecast indeed.
Today the Cardinals are on the FOX Game of the Week and tomorrow they are on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball.
Our next telecast is monday from Arizona.
Will our opening predictions come true?
Tune in and find out monday.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Away From The Play

The camera operators for our home shows at Busch Stadium all have the same goal.
The number one priority is to show something in the ballpark that the viewers at home will see and the fans in the stands will not see.
It truly is rewarding when we capture a moment in the ballpark during the game that ONLY the viewers at home witness.
This is really not as difficult as it may seem.
I think it is safe to say that during game action most if not all eyes in the ballpark are FOLLOWING THE BALL!
Therefore, our Busch Stadium camera operators are trained to find shots away from the ball. The camera located at high home (camera 2) is really the only camera operator whose sole responsibility is to follow the ball.
This does not mean that this operator is immune to our number one goal.
When the ball is not in play, our camera 2 operator has seen quirks in the defensive alignment, managers and players acting up in the dugout, and umpires staring at players or coaches.
ISOs (Isolated shots) of the dugout have captured moments only witnessed by the viewer.
If there is a play at the plate, ISOing the defensive player who threw the ball to the catcher is another effective example of capturing a shot away from the ball.
One of my favorite shots "away from the ball" occurred during the 1998 season and involved Mark McGwire. We expected McGwire to hit a homerun during every at-bat. One of our favorite ISOs was of the left fielder. I put the high 1st base camera (camera 3) on the left fielder and told the operator to frame the left fielder head-to-toe and do not move. McGwire would hit a mammoth shot to left field and many times the replay of the left fielder was priceless. He did not move a muscle. An effective replay "away from the play".
Maybe the most opportune time to capture moments at the ballpark that only the viewer at home will witness is between innings.
Camera operators should never stop working from the time the show goes on the air until the telecast is signed off.
Some of the greatest replays our telecasts have ever had have occurred between innings.
During today's telecast, we captured a great moment that only our viewers at home were privy to.
Our left field corner camera (camera 1) was looking for something away from the play and he captured Cardinals' manager Tony LaRussa motioning the left fielder to move in shallow and cover the left field line. There was a lefthanded batter at the plate who could fly. The first pitch after we showed LaRussa in the dugout, the batter smacked the ball down the left field line for a single. However, if the leftfielder had not been repositioned by the manager, the basehit would have been a sure double.
This sequence was a great moment in the telecast.
A great moment "away from the play."

Against The Flow

This well-pitched 2-1 game was played in 2:38.
All the runs were scored in the 1st inning.
A game played at this pace usually means that there is a good flow to the game and a hectic flow to the telecast.
99 times out of 100 this is true.
Not tonight.
The flow of the telecast was excellent.
The producer creates the flow of the show.
What does the flow of the show entail?
The flow of the show is determined by how skillful the producer is able to incorporate the "sold" elements of the telecast with the action of the game. These "sold" elements include batting orders, starting pitcher graphics, team promotional events and items, trivia, texting votes, and TV network announcements. Indeed, anything that graphically appears on the screen having nothing to do with the game action can be included in the "sold" category.
These elements are totally necessary because they help pay for the telecast which can cost close to $40,000 a show.
The producer not only deals with these items but also replays and game related graphics.
The skill of the producer to incorporate all this into the game action determines the "flow of the show."
The "flow of the show" is totally affected by the flow of the game.
If the game is poorly played and moves at a snail's pace, the producer is able adjust and has better control over the flow of the show
Usually a fast paced game makes it much more difficult for the producer to manage the "flow of the show".
This was not the case in tonight's telecast.
There was a wonderful "flow to the show".
On the contrary, every TV baseball director loves a fast paced game.
A director is able to get into a nice rhythm when the game is well-played and well-paced.
Well, 99 times out of 100 a director will develop a nice rhythm when the game is well-played and well- paced.
Not tonight.
I could never sustain a comfortable rhythm during this game.
Sometimes I found myself going to camera 4 (centerfield) for the pitch too early. I generally like to get to this camera right before the pitcher goes into his windup, but tonight my ryhthm was off and I never really found it for an extended period of time.
I was either too early in some graphic insertions or too late removing some graphics.
When a TV sports director is in a good rhythm, the shots are timely and graphic insertion is succinct. This allows the director to plan ahead. A director generally knows where he/she is going to be in 5 or 6 shots.
A lousy rhythm disrupts this very important aspect of a successfully directed telecast.
There were moments tonight I was lucky to know where I was going for my next shot!
The telecast of this well-played and well-paced game had a great "flow to the show".
Too bad the director didn't capture the flow to the game.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Home Opener

The home opener is always special.
It is always a special game for the players and fans.
It is always a special telecast for the TV crew.
Busch Stadium is a sea of red!
The clydesdales ring the field.
The living Cardinals Hall-of-Famers ride in vehicles around the warning track. Seeing Stan The Man Musial is especially exciting to all baseball fans.
The excitement and energy in the ballpark is very infectious during the team motorcade and player introductions.
The game begins and this energy seems to build with every pitch.
The Cardinals scored in the top of the 1st inning and the crowd went wild.
The attendance was 46,918 which is the largest regular season crowd in the history of Busch Stadium II.
Albert Pujols hit a 3-run bomb in the 3rd inning and I don't think I have ever heard Busch Stadium so loud.
Adam Wainwright pitched 8 innings of shutout baseball allowing 6 hits with 1 walk and 7 strikeouts. The ovation he received when he walked off the field after the top of the 8th inning was thunderous.
The 1-2-3 hitters for the Cardinals went 8-11 with 5 runs and 5 rbi.
Ok, enough with the game summary.
Let's talk about the telecast.
In my book, Cutting The Game, ( I talk about the beauty of working at home with a regular crew. I write about how the flow of the home show is so much smoother than a road telecast because of the familiarity of the crew with the TV production team. The camera operators with the director and the tape room with the producer work so well together on the home show because of this "comfort zone".
I met with the camera operators before the game and told them how excited I was to be doing baseball with them again. I also told them that there would be NO camera meeting because we had all worked together for so long that I believed a camera meeting was not necessary. I think this raised the confidence level of this extremely talented camera crew and I also firmly believe that this comment also added to the comfort level between myself and the camera operators.
The replay sequences and video packages proved that this comfort level was also evident between the producer and the tape room
This familiarity and comfort level is also evident with our audio engineer. His mix was terrific.
Our X-Mo camera (super slo-mo) looked better than it ever has in the past 3 seasons. I thank our video operator for his fine work. In a partly cloudy day, the sun can play some mean tricks on the video operator as he "shades" the cameras and today was no different. Great job!
The telecast was a good, solid show.
I believe that our TV crew, from top to bottom, fed off the electric energy of Busch Stadium and delivered one of our better telecasts in the past few seasons.
Fitting for such a special day.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Not What You Think

Tonight's game was similiar to yesterday's game but with a different outcome
Tonight's telecast was totally different from yesterday's telecast but with a similiar outcome.
Tonight, the visiting Cardinals hit a 2-out, 2-strike, 2-run homerun in the top of the ninth inning to take a 5-4 lead which won the game.
Yesterday, the hometown Reds hit a walk off homerun in the bottom of the ninth to win the game 2-1.
In tonight's telecast we were in the back end of a dual feed.
Yesterday, we were solo with a 5 camera, 2-channel EVS, and two tape machine game.
In tonight's game, a Cardinals rookie hit the homerun off of the Major League Baseball's all-time saves leader.
Yesterday, an everyday Reds player hit a homerun off of a Cardinal's 2nd year player.
Yesterday, when the game was over and our camera isos worked and therefore our replays were very telling, I did not feel a sense of accomplishment.
I was disappointed in the telecast.
I don't know why.
Tonight, there were two very, very important moments in the game.
I set up the camera isos in both situations and I was wrong in both instances.
What I thought would happen did not happen.
In a 1-run game in the top of the 8th inning, the Milwaukee manager intentionally Albert Pujols with 1st base open and a 1-run lead and Matt Holliday coming up.
Thinking that this "different" managerial move would work in the Cardinals' favor, my main iso was a shot of Holliday in the batters box with the camera (camera 3) pushing to the Cardinals' 3rd base dugout for reaction.
Holliday struck out and the iso did not work.
I thought of isoing the Brewers manager with my low 1st camera cross shooting into the Brewers' 1st base dugout in case his moved worked out, but went with the camera 3 iso.
My decision was wrong..
The 2nd situation occurred in the top of the 9th inning.
There was 2 outs with a runner on base.
The Cardinals were down by a run.
Trevor Hoffman, the all-time saves leader in Major League Baseball history was on the mound.
Nick Stavinoa, a Cardinals rookie, was at the plate.
I thought about setting up the same iso of the Cardinals dugout as with the Holliday situation, but I iso'd the cameras for a Brewers reaction.
I iso'd Trevor Hoffman.
On a 2-2 pitch with 2 outs, Stavinoa went deep....homerun!
Trevor Hoffman, being the pro that he is, had NO reaction.
Once again, my camera iso did not work.
I was wrong.
Live shots of the Cardinal's dugout.........well, you can imagine.
Tonight, when the game was over and our camera isos did not work, and therefore our replays were not the best that they should have been, I was disappointed once again.
Similiar games, different telecasts, similiar results.
Someone explain this to me.
Tomorrow's game is on Fox and sunday night's game is on ESPN.
Maybe with those two days off I will figure it out.
Next telecast: Home opener.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Allow me to summarize today's telecast/game.
The Cincinnati Reds won the game 2-1 with a walk-off homerun in the bottom of the ninth inning.
The pitching, especially the starters, was exceptional.
There were many great defensive plays from both teams.
One couldn't ask for a better pace to a game.
All the ingredients for a memorable telecast - right?
I can't think of another telecast more ripe for the type of show where the TV production team sits back, exhales, and thinks that "it doesn't get any better than this."
I can't think of another telecast where the action on the field did not translate to the telecast.
Even though our show included great replays, insightful graphics, and enlightening live shots, I felt a bit of disappointment when we signed off the air.
Win OR lose, a game/telecast like this leaves the TV production team at least a bit fired up.
There was nothing today.
I will not place blame on the sparce crowd and thus the atmosphere in the ballpark.
I cannot place the blame on my attitude or the attitude of the crew. The crew performance was exceptional today.
I will not place the blame on the loss. I cover the game and the game was wonderful.
I guess this telecast will go down in the books as one of those shows that for the life of me, I will never figure out.
Of the thousands of MLB telecasts I have done in the past 27 years, I can count these shows on one hand.
I know tomorrow's telecast will provide me with better thoughts than I had after the show today.
It better.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Preparation and Adjustment

The quality of a telecast hinges upon many factors.
Possibly, the two most important factors are preparation and adjustment.
Preparation is a must and I am sure that every MLB telecast production team prepares to the utmost for each telecast. The quality of the telecast depends on this preparation.
The quality of a telecast is also determined by how well the TV production team adjusts during the game/telecast.
Tonight, in just our second regular season telecast, our show included some excellent examples of how preparation and adjustment play a part in the presentation of a telecast.
The discussion of story lines between our Producer, play by play announcer, color analyst, and side line reporter in their pregame meeting reaped great rewards during the telecast. Twice during the game, a particular story line was teased by play by play, enhanced by the side line reporter and embellished by the analyst. Shots of the players involved in each story line enhanced the viewing experience.
Another example of how preparation played a part in the telecast occurred in the top of the ninth inning.
Throughout the telecast, the story line of the Cardinals' closer struggling late in spring training and in the season opener was occassionally talked about. In the top of the ninth inning, the closer was warming up in the bullpen with the bullpen coach standing next to him. I noticed the bullpen coach talking about arm angle with the closer and alerted the announcers. We went to the shot live and, luckily, the bullpen coach and the closer were talking about the closer's delivery. This accentuated what our analyst had said earlier in the telecast about the closer.
Sometimes it is great to be lucky!
In the truck tonight, two adjustments were made that were not expected.
We are using a wonderful device this season that shows the location of the pitch. Pitch Trax is a great tool that really enhances the telecast.
I felt that the only problem with Pitch Trax was when we went to this feature live, the location of the pitch occurred much too late on the screen. I had to cut to the high home camera before the location of the pitch showed on the screen. Well, this problem was solved when the Pitch Trax operator adjusted the speed of Pitch Trax and the location occurred almost instantly as the ball entered the catcher's glove.
Adjustment #1.
The second example of adjustment occurred when we lost the centerfield camera (camera 4) in the bottom of the 8th inning and in the bottom of the 9th inning.. We were taking the camera 4 feed from the home show. I adjusted by changing the responsibilities of my tight centerfield camera (camera 6). Camera 6 therefore became camera 4.
Adjustment #2.
This was a seamless move that I am sure was not noticed by the viewer.
Preparation and adjustment - both necessary and important.
Tonight's telecast proved to be a perfect example of how these factors play into the quality of the telecast.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Opening Day

The first telecast of the regular season is in the books and we had a good show.
We televised five games from Florida for spring training to help get the cobwebs out, but there is really nothing like an opening day telecast.
We televised from Cincinnati and we were in a side-by-side situation.
Thank goodness.
Cincinnati can be a less than positive experience when we are in a dual feed situation. More often than not, the Cincinnati dual feed becomes a duel feed. This is not because of the Cincinnati TV Production team as they bend over backwards for the visiting TV Production team trying to make the broadcast experience a favorable one. The facilities situation in Cincinnati just does not make a comfortable dual experience possible.
Like all venues, the dual feed is a less than desirable situation in providing the highest quality telecast. Let's just say that the Cincinnati dual situation is the least desirable in all of baseball. We all know that the reason for dual feeds is financial and we live with it.
However, kudos to Fox Sports Midwest for providing us with our own truck and crew for the important opening day telecast and, indeed, the opening series of the year.
Our Cincinnati crew was excellent.
The TD is a conscientious, hard working crew member who did a great job.
Our play by play and color analyst raved about the audio and they were correct. The mix was superb.
The camera operators worked hard and we captured some great shots throughout the telecast.
The video operator was forced to ride levels because of the sun and clouds and was on top of it all game.
The tape room, led by our travelling EVS operator, did a fine job with replays, recaps and packages. We televised some of the best super slo-mo replays that we have ever had in this telecast. The replay of a slide at home plate on a "play at the plate" was truly remarkable and captured one of the better replays we have EVER had!
Thanks to the home show for giving us a feed of their super slo-mo camera...great stuff!
Once the duet operator, font assist and I were in sync, the graphics flowed with the show.
In summarizing the performance of the Cincinnati crew, we had a very, very good telecast for the season opener.
However, the person on our crew who deserves the highest praise for the success of the first regular season telecast is our EIC. (Engineer in Charge)
I believe that the season opening telecast creates the most tension and puts the most pressure on the EIC of the truck. The TV production team can be the best in the country but if the truck doesn't work nothing else matters. As I wrote in my book Cutting The Game, Inside Television Baseball From The Director's Chair (, the EIC's of the truck are the hardest working and least thanked of all the crew members.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mr. EIC of our season opening telecast.
Your hard work did not go unnoticed.