Saturday, July 31, 2010

Can't Top That

The St. Louis Cardinals organization is an organization with great tradition.
It is a privilege to be part of such a successful and respected team and front office.
Before today's game, the Cardinals honored Whitey Herzog for being elected to baseball's Hall of Fame.
We covered the ceremony live and capturing this event for the Cardinals fans was very exciting. I looked forward to this telecast and was very pleased with the outcome.
In fact, the highlight of our telecast was the second inning when Whitey was our guest in the both. Whitey is a great story teller and his interaction with our announcers was very entertaining.
As a fan, the pregame ceremony and the second inning with Whitey were highly enjoyable.
As a baseball TV director, the first inning was very rewarding because of the rare play that occurred to end the top of the first.
The Pirates had runners on first and second with one out. The batter hit a pop-up to the infield. The infield fly rule was called. The Cardinals catcher dropped the ball and the runners took off for second base and third base.
There was some confusion on the field as the Cardinals threw the ball to second base and tagged the runner from first. The umpire called the runner safe and then reversed his decision and called him out.
We came back from break to show replays of what happened during this rare play. Our announcers explained the play and our replays showed exactly what happened.
But, the highlight of this sequence was not the weird play that just happened. Our lead tape Producer, Brian, cued up an equally rare base running play that occurred during a May 7 Cardinals/Pirates game in Pittsburgh.
During that game, there was a rundown and two Pirates ended up at third base. The rule is the runner from second base is out and the runner who was originally on third base is safe. Well, during this particular play, the umpire made the right call and called the trailing runner out. The original runner at third base thought he was out, stepped off the base and was tagged by a Cardinals player and was immediately called out by the umpire. A double play!
Two very rare and very strange base running plays between two teams in the same season.
Airing the May 7th play after tonight's weird play was absolutely the highlight of this telecast.
The Cardinals won in a rout by the score of 11-1 and scored in every inning but the first and the third.
The pregame ceremony was very exciting and very successful.
The first inning coverage was very rewarding.
The second inning with Whitey was very entertaining.
You just can't top that start to a telecast.

A Weird Night

There was a 2:20 minute rain delay before the start of tonight's game.
The game went 10 innings and lasted 2:38 with the Cardinals winning 1-0.
The first nine innings lasted 2:20 thus matching the length of the rain delay.
The tarp went onto the field at 7:10 pm and the rain started at 8:30 pm.
The Cardinals scored the winning run in walk-off style.
Walk-offs are great fun to cut. Tonight's walk-off was no different in that regard, however, I had a brain cramp during the on-field celebration by the Cardinals. We were going to do a live interview before we went to commercial with the player who delivered the game-winning hit. As I was cutting the celebration, I heard the Producer say "Show me Jim Hayes". Jim is our sideline reporter who would be conducting the interview.
I could see Jim when I took a wide shot from camera 3 (mid-third base) and didn't think anymore of the Producer's request.
Once again I heard "Show me Jim Hayes".
Jim was standing in front of camera 5 (low first base) and without missing a beat I took camera 5 showing only Jim standing on the field.
The next thing I hear is "NOT ON CAMERA!"
I immediately cut back to the celebration trying not to hammer myself too bad for this moronic mistake.
A moment or two later I said to Mike, our Producer, "Jim looked good when he was on camera".
Mike looked at me, smiled and shook his head in disbelief.
A weird night indeed.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Watching The Game

It is just after 9:00 pm and I am home in St. Louis after our day game telecast from Citi Field in New York.
What am I doing? To tell the truth, I am watching a re-air of today's telecast on FSN Midwest.
I think it is a good idea to occasionally watch my work.
It is somewhat strange to me that I remember every shot and I can tell you what camera I was looking at and I can remember what I said to the announcers on their IFB during particular moments in the game/telecast.
Whenever the ball is put in play, I go to camera 2 (high home) and immediately start looking at other cameras for my next shot. I know that camera 2 is going to shag (follow) the ball so I really do not focus my total attention on that camera when it is on the air.
I am spoiled because our camera 2 operator at home (Busch Stadium) is one of the finest in the country and is maybe the best at framing shots while the ball is in play.
Well, the camera 2 operator in New York at Citi Field is absolutely outstanding also. He has a great shag and his framing is outstanding.
Once I take a camera and put it on the air, I stop paying attention to that camera and start looking for my next shot. In fact, when I am in a good rhythm, I know what camera I am going to be on in five shots.
Setting up replays during sacrifice situations is an excellent example of this particular shot sequence.
Critical moments during a game are a blast to cut.
Busch Stadium, bottom of the ninth inning, tie game, bases loaded and Albert Pujols at the plate, c'mon, I am getting fired up just thinking about it.
When I start cutting moments such as that, I know where I am going to be three or four or five or even six shots down the road.
I don't look at the program monitor because I am looking for my next shot so I am relying on the camera operator who is "on the air" to provide a quality shot.
I am confident that our home camera operators fulfill this responsibility.
It is great to see the New York Mets Citi Field camera operators fulfill this responsibility as well when they are "on the air".
Great job and excellent telecast by the whole New York crew!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Quick Turnaround

A summary of tonight's game:
4 hours, 32 minutes
13 innings
15 runs
29 hits
A 6-run top of the first inning for the Cardinals.
A 4-run bottom of the eighth inning for the Mets.
Both team used eight pitchers.
The Cardinals threw 205 pitches.
The Mets threw 203 pitches.
The Cardinals threw 121 strikes and 84 balls.
The Mets threw 128 strikes and 75 balls.
After our post-game hits, we were off the air at 11:52 pm.
At 11:30 am today, we will be on the air with our pre-game show.
I don't mind the quick turnaround between telecasts because tomorrow is a get-away day and, therefore, on a normal 3-hour game I should be in my door before 7 pm.
I will gladly take the quick turnaround but not another game like tonight's.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Silence Is Deafening

Last season, I had a terrible experience in New York with the Citi Field TV crew.
I became fed-up with the crew for the incessant chatter and loudly let them know what I thought of their unprofessional behavior.
I like the guys on this crew but the nonstop talking and laughing was distracting and the quality of the telecast was suffering because of this behavior.
I spoke with the person who is responsible for crewing the visitor's feed and he said he would "take care of it". I have known this "crewer" (who also is an excellent camera operator) for over twenty years and I have great respect for him. I enjoy talking about the game of baseball with him and I consider him to be knowledgeable about the game.
Well, "take care of it" he did.
During the telecast tonight, there was minimal chatter on headsets
The silence was deafening.
There was nothing special about tonight's game and there was nothing special about tonight's game coverage.
I take that back.
Our high first base camera operator (camera 3) had one of the best "ball follows" on a home run that I have ever seen.
This was a special moment on tonight's telecast.
Almost as memorable as the silence.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Chicago Crew

As I have stated many times, Wrigley Field is my favorite sports venue in all of sports. Another reason I enjoy working in Chicago is because I personally like members of the crew. This crew works hard and doesn't take themselves too seriously.
We have a great time with many laughs during Cardinals/Cubs telecasts at Wrigley Field.
I write about headset chatter in my book Cutting The Game, Inside Television Baseball From The Director's Chair (
I don't mind talking on headsets between crew members during a telecast if that chatter is not distracting or unprofessional. In fact, headset chatter can be relaxing for the crew. I want our TV crew to be relaxed and to be enjoying themselves. The happier the crew, the higher quality the telecast.
The headset chatter between Chicago crew during a telecast is sometimes more entertaining than the game.
One of the EVS operators (tape room) is Nick. Nick is downright funny! If Nick was doing stand-up comedy, I would pay to see him.
Directing baseball in Chicago is great, great fun.
There is Wrigley Field.
There is the crew.
This is not a slight on any of the other TV crews that we work with on the road. I enjoy cutting the game in whatever city I am in.
The Chicago crew is just a bit different than all other crews.
I like that.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Wrigley Field

I write a chapter in my book Cutting The Game, Inside Television Baseball From The Director's Chair ( about Wrigley Field.
Every baseball fan in the world should experience a Cardinals/Cubs game at Wrigley Field.
It doesn't matter where these two teams are in the standings.
It doesn't matter if it is a Monday night game or a Wednesday day game.
It doesn't matter if it is hot or cold.
It doesn't matter if it is sunny or raining.
It is absolutely great, great fun to be a fan in the stands for a Cardinals/Cubs game at Wrigley Field.
Every TV baseball director should cut a Cardinals/Cubs game out of Wrigley Field.
It doesn't matter where these two teams are in the standings.
It doesn't matter if it is a day game or a night game.
It doesn't matter if it is a weekday game or a game on the weekend.
It doesn't matter if there are 4, 5, 6 or 15 cameras.
It is absolutely great, great fun to direct a Cardinals/Cubs baseball game out of Wrigley Field.
As I sat in the cab back to the hotel after the game today, I was wondering why cutting a Cardinals/Cubs game from Wrigley Field is so rewarding and exciting.
I realized that during EVERY SINGLE Cardinals/Cubs game/telecast something memorable happens.
Something happens in EVERY Cardinals/Cubs game/telecast from Wrigley Field that is rarely seen, if ever seen, in a baseball game.
Every time.
Take this season for example.
Albert Pujols has a monster game with three homeruns.
On May 28th Cubs pitcher, Randy Wells, doesn't retire a single batter in the first inning against the Cardinals allowing 5 runs on 6 hits.
Today, he pitches seven shutout innings and gets the win.
In today's game with the Cubs batting, there is a pop-up hit between the mound and home plate and not one Cardinals infielder made an attempt to catch the ball. The ball dropped between the pitcher and the catcher for an rbi single.
I have never seen that play before.
Cardinals/Cubs at Wrigley Field.
Something different every time.
There is nothing better in TV sports!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Almost Nothing

During a baseball telecast, or any sport for that matter, the game will dictate to the TV production crew just what exactly should be covered.
The game dictates the telecast.
The more adept the TV production crew is at picking up the hints that the game is throwing in their general direction, the higher the quality of the show.
Adapting to the flow of the game is most important aspect in determining the success the TV production crew.
Too many TV crews build and build and build graphics and soundbites thinking that these elements will make for a quality telecast. These elements are often forced into the telecast and the show suffers.
It is the TV crew that can adapt to the game and follow the "story line" of the game, creating as they go, that enjoys the most success.
Let the game dictate the programming and adjust and adapt to the game.
This determines the success of the show.
However, sometimes the game gives you almost nothing.
Like today's game.
The Cardinals went 1-2-3 in the first, second, third, and fourth innings. In the fifth inning, Matt Holliday led off with a single and was erased on a double play. The Redbirds went down 1-2-3 in the sixth and the seventh inning.
There was a walk in the bottom of the eighth inning and after the eighth inning, the Phillies starting pitcher had faced one over the minimum.
The Cardinals went down 1-2-3 in the ninth and the tenth inning.
The score after nine innings was 0-0 as the Phillies weren't able to muster any offense as well.
The Phillies scored two runs in the top of the eleventh inning and the Cardinals went down meekly in the bottom of the eleventh with only a walk in the books.
There were TWO telling replays the whole game and these came on possible trapped fly balls by the Phillies in the fifth inning.
We adjusted to the game and aired a video sequence showing the last three walk-off hits by the first three upcoming batters for the Cardinals in the tenth inning.
Other than that, the game gave us nothing.
A rare game indeed.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

In Sync

When a TV sports television crew is in sync there is a great flow to the show and the viewer is treated to a strong, clean telecast.
When the crew is not in sync the quality of the telecast suffers and the viewer is robbed of a good viewing experience.
It is very important for the Director to be in sync with the camera crew.
When the cameras and the director are "flowing", the live television experience in the truck is memorable, exciting and just plain fun.
All of the home camera operators for St. Louis Cardinals' telecasts are very talented.
One of these particularly talented operators has a different responsibility from the rest of the crew. The main responsibility of this operator is to "show me something I have never seen before".
Some of the greatest replays that have ever aired on Cardinals TV have come from the work of this camera operator.
The last couple of telecasts and the beginning of tonight's telecast I found myself out of sync with this camera operator.
I even stated on headsets to this camera op that "we were out of sync and have been for a few telecasts" and he agreed with me.
This brilliant television technician is among the best camera operators in the country. Not only is his work outstanding but he is one of the nicest people you could ever want to know.
The problem was obviously with me.
After some thought, I realized that some of the decisions I was making concerning his camera (camera 1) and how I was utilizing it were actually handcuffing this talented TV teammate.
I'm sure he was wondering just what the heck was going on. Being the professional that he is, he kept his mouth shut but I am sure that he was thinking YOU ARE LIMITING ME! LET ME SHOW YOU SOMETHING YOU HAVEN'T SEEN BEFORE!
Once I realized what I was doing, camera 1 and I fell into a rhythm and the show finally had a flow.
Every single time I sit in the chair and direct Major League Baseball I learn something new. This is one of the most rewarding aspects of this profession.
I learned a valuable lesson tonight.
The most important unwritten rule of live television sports is to NEVER make the same mistake twice.
Believe me, I will never make the mistake of limiting a fellow TV teammate again.
Lesson learned.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Out Of Sync

There were many aspects of this game that should have led to a good "flow to the show".
The game had a nice pace and was played in 2:33.
Chris Carpenter, the Cardinals starting pitcher, was dominating. In fact, going into the seventh inning, Carpenter had thrown only 49 pitches!
The Cardinals hit two homeruns and were in control of this contest from the start.
With all of these positive aspects to the game, we were still unable to develop a good flow to the show and were out of sync for most of the game/telecast.
I know that the TV crew was looking forward to this match-up. We are always excited when Carpenter pitches and the Phillies were starting Jamie Moyer. There is enough information about the 47 year old Moyer that story lines could be told the whole telecast.
This is exactly where tonight's telecast went wrong.
We tried to do too much too early in the telecast.
We had a great opportunity to space these story lines throughout the game telecast and we crammed too much information into the show in the first inning.
The first inning of this telecast featured some of the worst baseball television we have aired all season.
I believe the baseball Gods were looking out for us when Moyer left the game after the first inning with a strain to his pitching elbow.
But, by the time Moyer left the game, the damage was done.
There were some nice moments to the telecast but we never really got into a good rhythm.
This show was a struggle all night.

Monday, July 19, 2010

What A Blast!

The most fun a TV baseball director has is cutting a homerun.
There is a chapter about the homerun "cut" in my book "Cutting The Game, Inside Television Baseball From The Director's Chair". (
Our text poll question for tonight's telecast asked viewers to vote for the most homerun friendly ballpark in MLB. The ballparks in the poll question were Citizens Bank Ballpark (Philadelphia), Great American Ballpark (Cincinnati), Coors Field (Denver), and Minute Maid Park in Houston.
Perhaps, after tonight's game, Busch Stadium should be added to the list.
The Cardinals hit four homeruns tonight with three in the fifth inning!
Capturing the exciting moment of a Cardinals homerun is a blast.
Cutting a homerun with the homerun trot and the crowd and teammates going crazy is exhilarating.
Cutting back to back homeruns is wonderful fun as I try to differ the cut of the second homerun from the cut of the first one. Adding to this special moment, the second homerun hit in the fifth tonight was the first major league homerun hit by the player!
Cutting a baseball game can't get any better than when a third homerun is hit in the same inning!
The crew is already "pumped" from the first two homers and capturing a third homerun creates an awesome feeling throughout the whole crew.
This game/telecast was a blast to be part of.
Even my car breaking down on the way home after the telecast did not dampen my mood.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Two Moments

There were two "moments" in today's game/telecast that were an absolute blast to cut.
Not every game will give you a special moment to cut and a TV baseball director is especially fortunate when a game has two special moments.
Special moment #1
Bottom of the 8th inning, Dodgers leading 4-3, 2 outs, runners on first and second, and Albert Pujols at the plate as a pinch-hitter facing Jonathon Broxton.
The greatest player in the game against a flame throwing all-star. In fact, Broxton had reached 100 mph on the radar gun during an earlier at-bat.
The home Busch Stadium crowd was going nuts!
There were seven pitches in this at-bat and the excitement level of the crowd grew with each pitch.
I mixed in crowd shots with tight face shots of Pujols and Broxton between each pitch.
Busch Stadium was rocking!
Albert hit the ball hard but grounded out to end the inning.
Special moment #2
Bottom of the 9th inning, the score has just been tied 4-4, Matt Holliday at the plate, Broxton still in the game, 2 outs, and runners on first and second.
Holliday laces a bullet over the head of the right fielder and the Cardinals win!
Cutting a "walk-off" win is especially invigorating and great, great fun.
The outcome of this game was all the more exciting because of the way this game played out. Going into the bottom of the 7th inning, the Cardinals were down 4-0 and had only 1 hit! The lead-off batter in the bottom of the 7th inning doubled and was left stranded.
At that time, there certainly did not seem like the Cardinals had a chance in hell to pull out a victory.
Cutting TWO great moments in a game with one culminating in a "walk off" win - it doesn't get any better than that!

Two Moments

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Here is a summary of tonight's telecast:
The Good:
Our poll question is a "sold" item where our viewers text in their preferences that are laid out in the question. Tonight's question was "Which is your favorite Jack Buck call during a Dodgers/Cardinals game.
A) "Go crazy folks, go crazy"
B) "Audios, goodbye and that might be a winner"
C) "I don't believe what I just saw"
We aired the audio from each call and announced to our viewers that the winning "call" would be replayed later in the telecast.
The first time we aired the poll question we also played the audio from each call. We aired the question a second time without the audio and announced again that the winning poll question call would be aired on the show.
There has never been a bigger response to the poll question before and the winner was "Go crazy folks, go crazy".
This was a very effective use of the poll question.
The Bad:
The first pitch of the game was scheduled for 7:15.
However, the first pitch was thrown at 7:14:30.
Because of this, we missed the first pitch of the game as we were still in commercial.
The Ugly:
During the bottom of the first inning, the number five batter in the Cardinals lineup hit a 2-run triple.
My cut of that triple was absolutely horrendous.
It was like I had never cut a baseball game before.
I was totally embarrassed.
I would like to recite my cut to you but it was so bad that I don't even remember it.
I can relate to you every other cut during the game, but I can't remember my camera cut sequence for that triple - it was that bad.
All I know is that when the play was over I remember thinking "My God was that #$#@#$%!"

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Different Producer

Our regular producer, Mike has the first two games of this LA Dodgers series off.
Brian, who is our regular tape room Producer, filled in for Mike tonight and will be in the chair tomorrow as well.
The relationship of the Producer and the Director is critical to the success of the production. I write about the importance of this relationship in my book Cutting The Game, Inside Television Baseball From The Director's Chair ( Chapter three of the book is titled "Respect = Success. In this chapter, I discuss the importance of respect towards the game, the team, and the crew.
Mike and I have worked together as a Producer/Director team for many years. We have a mutual respect for each other and we work very well together.
Brian and I have worked a handful of games together as a Producer/Director team.
I am pleasantly surprised by how well we work together.
The mistakes a young Producer will make usually occur because the Producer will try to do too much. "Aggressive" mistakes are much more acceptable than mistakes that are made because of laziness.
Many young Producers become very excited during a production. On second thought, many experienced TV crew members become too excited during critical moments of a game/telecast.
Brian, however, was cool, calm, and collected during the telecast.
His commands were concise and confident.
Just like an earlier telecast in which we worked together, Brian "produced" an excellent telecast.
This 7-1 Cardinals victory was a comfortable telecast with a great pace.
I look forward to tomorrow's telecast.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Over The Air vs Cable

St. Louis Cardinals baseball airs 133 times on Fox cable and 22 times on the over-the-air station KSDK.
There are quite a few differences between these two broadcast outlets.
All of the commercials for Fox run from a coord studio in Houston, Texas, while approximately two-thirds of the commercials on KSDK are network spots and air from the truck. The other one- third of the commercial inventory are local spots and are the responsibility of the individual stations or cable outlets that are airing the game.
There is a difference for the TV production team when commercials are running from the truck and when they are not airing from the mobile unit. When the commercials are airing from Houston (on Fox broadcasts) or from the local affiliates (on KSDK shows) we are able to relax a bit more because the telecast is not in our hands at that moment. Whenever anything is airing from the truck, we are totally responsible for the content and, even though the commercial is airing from site, the relaxation factor isn't has strong as when the commercials are handled elsewhere.
Televising baseball and, in fact, all live sporting events can be a bit strenuous. After all, the sports TV crew has one chance and one chance only to capture the action of the game in the best way possible.
Inserting graphics during the telecast is also different between Fox and KSDK.
Fox likes all of their lower third batter fonts to be inserted blind. This means that the batter shot is taken, the graphic is inserted by the Technical Director (TD) and with a key stroke by the duet operator (graphics machine), the graphic animates on the air.
On the KSDK telecasts, the lower third batter fonts are inserted by the TD with no blind reveal animation.
I agree with the thinking of Fox that this method of insertion of graphics "dresses up" the telecast, but I also realize that the chances of a mistake being made are much greater using this method of graphic insertion.
This may not seem like that big of a deal but think of how many times batter graphics are used during a show and you can understand the point I am making here.
The Fox box for the Fox shows and the score box for the KSDK telecasts are completely different as well. There is 80% more animations, information, and sound from the Fox box than the score box. This is the way the software is set up for each particular box.
On page 29 of my book Cutting The Game, Inside Television Baseball From The Director's Chair (, I write about the responsibilities of the score box operator. The person running the score box must always be in the game, especially on Fox telecasts.
The Fox shows and the KSDK shows have different announcers, music, and effects.
These shows sound different.
These broadcast outlets have different video "opens" (the first video the viewer sees at the start of the telecast), replay moves, graphics, and transitions.
These shows look different.
These shows may sound different and these shows may look different, but these show have one thing in common - they cover the great game of baseball.
It is the responsibility of the TV crew to give each broadcast outlet the sound they want and the look they want during the coverage of this wonderful game.
It is great fun working with different broadcast outlets.
It is more fun covering the game of baseball.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


The Houston Astros beat the Cardinals tonight by the score of 4-1. There was a nice easy flow to the game and the show during this 2:19 affair.
During our meal break from 3:30 to 4:30, our Cardinals travelling TV party dined together in the excellent Astros press room. Our table included the announcers as well as the Producer, myself, our tape producer, and our graphics guru.
It was during this meal break that Dan and Ricky, our announcers, told us they were going to talk about the St. Louis Cardinals coaches at various intervals during the game.
During the telecast, each coach was put on camera and Dan and Ricky did a nice job explaining their respective responsibilities.
These coaches sequences did not take away from the game and, in fact, added real quality to the telecast.
Another highlight of the telecast came about through the collaboration of Brian, our replay and tape room producer and Keith, our graphics guru.
The story of the game was that the Astros made the plays when needed and the Cardinals did not make the plays when needed.
During a commercial break, we built two front-end graphics that read "HELP OUT STARTER" and "MAKING HIM WORK".
The HELP OUT STARTER graphic led to video of the Astros making plays and the MAKING HIM WORK graphic led to video of the Cardinals not making plays.
Very effective!
This telecast was a great example of how important teamwork is to the quality of the show.
I am proud to be a member of this TV team.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Director's Dream, Producer's Nightmare

The Cardinals beat the Astros tonight by the score of 8-0.
There were many aspects of this game that were perfect for the TV director of the winning team.
The game had a great pace.
There were two homeruns hit by the two main players on the Cardinals.
The starting pitcher for the Cardinals, Adam Wainwright was "nails" the whole game.
The ryhthm of a telecast is usually determined by the ryhthm of the game.
Occasionally, however, the ryhthm of the telecast has NOTHING to do with the rhythm of the game.
These telecasts are the most difficult to produce.
Sometimes when the pace of the game is faster than the pace of the telecast, it is difficult for the TV production team to catch up with the pace of the game and deliver a telecast that is seamless as the telecast tries to balance the game with the "sold" items of the telecast.
The worst scenario for the TV production team during the game/telecast is to play catch-up.
If the "sold" items of a telecast take away from the game coverage, the value of the "sold" items is diminished.
Sales departments of all major sports teams must realize that LESS IS MORE!
Tonight's game/telecast is a perfect example of how sales elements can harm the quality of the telecast.
This was a huge win for the Cardinals.
This was a huge loss for the telecast.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Different Look

I just arrived in Houston after our day game in Denver.
We came back from commercial today with a look I had never seen before.
Our Producer, Mike, came up with the idea and it was pretty cool.
The Cardinals' pitcher today was Chris Carpenter who is one of the elite pitchers in all of baseball. Chris is known for his outstanding command of all his pitches, especially his curveball and his cutter.
Mike had an EVS operator (replay room) cue up a super slo-mo look of Carpenter's curveball on one machine and a super slo-mo look at Carpenter's cutter on a another machine.
The super slo-mo camera in Coors Field is located at the tight centerfield position.
This camera angle from behind the pitcher shows the best angle in capturing the spin of the ball as it heads towards the plate.
(We aired some great looks at the ball action of the change-up in last night's telecast. Our most important look at the ball action of a change-up last night came on the walk-off homerun pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning.)
For today's game, however, at Mike's request, we tried something completely different. Something that we had never tried before.
Mike suggested that we half dissolve one EVS machine over the other and roll both machines at the same time.
The viewer was able to see the difference in the ball action from Carpenter's curveball and his cutter as each pitch was delivered to the plate at the same time!
Rick Horton was our color analyst today and his commentary on this replay was spot on.
We did not doctor either replay angle. The super slo-mo camera was in the exact same location for each pitch. Because the camera did not move for each pitch, there was another interesting fact that was shown from this replay.
The release point for each pitch was different. The curveball release point was more overhand than the cutter release point.
This was a wonderful "look" during our telecast today.
This "look" was unique and memorable.
This different look made this telecast a success.
Every telecast I learn something new.
I am lucky and I am grateful.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Are You Kidding Me?

Last night, the Colorado Rockies scored nine runs in the bottom of the ninth and beat the Cardinals 12-9. The win was completed by a 3-run walk-off homerun.
In yesterday's blog ,this is what I wrote;
"Just when you think you have seen it all, the great game of baseball shows you something new and completely different."
Tonight's game/telecast was eerily similar to yesterday's game/telecast.
The Cardinals led the game 5-0 after four and a half innings and 7-4 going into the eighth inning. Yesterdays' game was in the back of all our minds throughout the telecast. Somehow you "just knew" that the game was far from over.
When the visiting television production is in the backend of a duel feed, the visiting production must rely on the home feed for coverage during important moments of the game. The home feed has at least 8 cameras at their disposal while the visitors utilize 3 cameras.
For example, when there are runners on base and the ball is put into play, I go to the home feed for the coverage of the play. The home feed can certainly cover the game better than the visiting feed.
At least 8 cameras vs. 3 cameras.
Figure it out.
Tonight's game and last night's game were very similar.
From the St. Louis Cardinals perspective, both of these games seemed like sure victories.
Both games ended with walk-off homeruns for the Rockies.
Tonight's telecast and last night's telecast also were very similar.
I jumped on the home feed for the "walk-off cut" by the Colorado Rockies director, Mike Fox, for each of these games.
I write a chapter in my book Cutting The Game, Inside Television Baseball From The Director's Chair ( about cutting the homerun. There is truly nothing more fun than cutting a homerun.
The past two games between the Cardinals and the Rockies ended with walk-off homeruns.
During the walk-off homeruns, the St. Louis Cardinals fans witnessed the cut of Mike Fox as he captured these exciting moments.
Mike nailed both homeruns.
Great cut, Mike!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Just When You Think.............

Just when you think you have seen it all, the great game of baseball shows you something new and completely different.
Take tonight's game/telecast.
The Colorado Rockies beat the St. Louis Cardinals 12-9 with a walk-off homerun in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Been there, done that.
Walk-off homeruns, although rare, occasionally occur and are really not something new and completely different.
However, a walk-off homerun that caps off a 9-run bottom of the ninth comeback is definitely something new and surely something different.
That's right, the Rockies scored 9 runs in the bottom of the ninth with only 1 out registered to beat the Cardinals.
There was something else that occurred in tonight's telecast that I guarantee you has never been seen before on any baseball telecast.
You notice that I said telecast instead of game.
The scheduled start of the game was 6:40 but, with rain in the area, the scheduled start was pushed back to 7:10.
This delay was officially called a rain delay. However, the tarp was not on the field and there was barely a mist falling.
Yes, we have all seen rain delays where the teams could have been playing.
How many times have you said, "It's barely raining, why aren't they playing?"
So this rain delay was not really something new and completely different.
However, what occurred during the delay was certainly something new and completely different.
As we returned to the game/telecast from the rain delay with no rain programming, we aired something that has never before been seen on MLB television.
What was the Coors Field grounds crew doing during the rain delay?
The Coors Field grounds crew was watering the field during the rain delay.
Watering the field during a rain delay with no rain is certainly something new and completely different.
A nine-run bottom of the ninth capped off by a walk-off homerun is also something new and completely different.
Believe me, I enjoyed the watering of the field better than the nine run bottom of the ninth.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Taking Chances Really Enhances

On page 56 of my book Cutting The Game, Inside Television Baseball From The Director's Chair ( I wrote the following sentence:
"The late Arne Harris, who directed Cubs games for many years, once told me that he defined a good baseball director as one whose coverage of a bases-loaded, bases-clearing base hit included a shot of every runner scoring in between shots of the base hit."
I have never forgotten this comment from Arne and, in fact, I think of this comment whenever the bases are loaded.
During our game/telecast today, Adam Wainwright, the Cardinals' starting pitcher hit a bases-loaded, bases-clearing double in the third inning. Remembering Arne, I cut each run scoring in between shots of the base hit.
Cutting a bases-loaded, bases-clearing base hit and showing each runner scoring in between shots of the base hit may be the most difficult task for a TV baseball director to accomplish and accomplish cleanly.
During this bases loaded situation, we took a chance and iso'd each runner. This was a huge moment in the game as Wainwright's double really put the game away for the Cardinals. Our second replay sequence of this very important moment of the game showed each runner taking off at the crack of the bat and rounding the bases. This unique "look" worked and really enhanced the pivotal moment of the baseball game. The reason that I call this a unique look is because on local baseball television the lead runner and much of the time the trail runner are iso'd into a replay machine. Rarely on an eight camera production are three of the cameras shooting runners.
We took a chance and it worked.
Later on during the game/telecast we took another chance and got lucky. It was the eighth inning and John Jay, who was called up from the AAA team yesterday, was at the plate. Our very talented robotic camera operator, iso'd two young Cardinals fans who were watching the game from behind home plate.
John Jay clobbered a homerun and the reaction from these two young fans was priceless. This was the best moment of the telecast.
"Take a chance to enhance."
When it works, it is very rewarding.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Telecast and The Game

A telecast can be good or bad.
The game can be good or bad.
You can have a good telecast with a good game or a good telecast with a bad game.
You can have a bad telecast with a good game or, God help you, a bad telecast with a bad game.
Today we had a good telecast with a bad game.
First of all, let's talk about the telecast.
This was a clean show with some memorable moments that occurred with the fans in the stands. There was a foul ball hit down the right field line and the ball boy gave the ball to a mother with a toddler.
The baby was beautiful and our announcers had fun with this nice shot.
An inning or two later, a hard foul ball was hit into the stands just behind the couple with the beautiful baby. The mother, who was closer to home plate than the father, protected the baby by turning her back to the ball while she covered the baby with her body. Our color analyst, Rick Horton, suggested that it would be a good idea if the father was closer to home plate than the mother who was holding the baby. Rick used the telestrator to show where the father should be sitting.
Our camera operator stayed with the couple and the baby in the stands as play continued. The father answered his cell phone and immediately moved to the seat that Rick highlighted with the telestrator.
Rick and Jay, our play by play announcer had fun with this sequence and it worked.
This telecast had some good replays and a pleasant flow.
The game, however, was a different story.
This 3:18 yawner was one of the worst games of the season.
The final score was Brewers 12, Cardinals 5.
The first batter of the game homered and the Brewers scored in each of the first 5 innings and led 11-0.
Game over.
The most surprising aspect of this game was that Chris Carpenter was the starting pitcher for the Cardinals. Carpenter is one of the best starters in baseball and this outing was totally shocking.
Expectations of a game can determine the theme or themes of that particular telecast.
Our 3 keys (expectations) to the game were:
#1 - Score early.
The Cardinals scored 3 runs in the bottom of the 5th inning after they were down 11-0.
#2 - Carp in the park. (Don't give up homeruns)
The lead-off batter of the game hit a homerun.
#3 - Right-handed success.
(The Brewers starting pitcher is left-handed so it was important for the right-handed batter on the Cardinals to do well.) The Cardinals' right-handed batting starters went 2-22.
Good telecast, bad game.
It happens.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Preparation Pays Off

We had our "This One's For You" salute to our troops telecast tonight.
This show requires more preparation from the TV crew than any other telecast.
We aired a greeting from President Barack Obama.
There are "shout outs" from the troops to their families.
There are "shout outs" from families to their troops in the line of fire.
We aired soundbites from the players and manager that thanked our troops.
We aired a thank you bite from the Governor.
My favorite sound on tape came from a soldier in Afghanistan who introduced an Albert Pujols at-bat.
There were two interviews with soldiers from two different bases in Afghanistan along with live shots of the troop as they watched the game from each respective base. These live shots of the troops also gave us some great replays as they reacted to the game.
Our viewers were also able to send text messages to the troops which we aired with a crawl on the bottom of the screen.
Kevin Landy, the Executive Producer of Fox Sports Midwest, and Allan Flowers, our Coordinating Producer, were very helpful in our preparation for this important telecast. Our Producer, Mike Helling and I received many e-mails and written documents that were invaluable for our preparation.
Three times during this telecast I found myself with a huge lump in my throat.
There was a shout out from two beautiful little girls to their daddy. We pre-taped a shout out from a soldier to his family that was gut wrenching. While I was on a live shot from one of the bases in Afghanistan where I noticed one of the soldiers pointing to a text message from someone he knew.
His reaction was priceless.
I will never forget the look of happiness on his face.
This was one of the finest telecasts I have ever had the privilege to be a part of.
Thank you, Troops!
Thank you for everything you do for us.
I am proud to be part of a telecast that honors your courage and your sense of duty to the greatest country in the world - the United States of America.
Thank you.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

That's More Like It

Two hours, thirty one minutes. 2:31
Well-pitched + well-played = great pace.
Don't get me wrong.
I love directing baseball.
I am not rooting for a 2:31 game because I can't wait to leave the truck. I am rooting for a well-pitched, well-played game because a great pace to the game allows for a great pace for the telecast.
A great "flow to the show" if you will.
There was a wonderful "flow to the show" tonight.
This was a very clean show.
The only downside to this telecast was my cut of Casey McGehee's homerun in the second inning.
I butchered the cut of that homerun.
As I wrote in my book Cutting The Game, Inside Television Baseball From The Director's Chair (, cutting a homerun is the most fun a TV baseball director has during a game.
Every TV baseball director loves to cut the homerun.
Every TV baseball director looks forward to cutting the homerun.
Therefore, despite the nice clean telecast tonight with great elements that enhanced the show, I am still ticked off by my awful cut of the second inning homerun.
There were four homeruns in tonight's game/telecast and I had a great time cutting three of the four.
The greatest aspect of this profession is that we learn every time we sit in the chair. I learned from the cut of the first homerun tonight and I was happy with my cut on the three homeruns that followed.
The key to this business: don't make the same mistake twice.
I will nail the homerun cut from now on.