What could be better than watching the Baltimore Orioles pound the New York Yankees 11-3 on a summer's night?
How about watching the Orioles pound the Yankees on a telecast on Fox.
I'm not here to put down MASN. I've had a lot of pleasure watching the O's this year on our regional sports network. (Read a piece I wrote last week about MASN's winning ratings here.)
But I have to say the direction and camera work Saturday night for the Fox telecast featuring Joe Buck on play-by-play and Tim McCarver as analyst were outstanding.
Fox made me feel as if I was practically on the field with its crisp, tight close-up shots that captured the mood and the moment time and again throughout the game.
I loved the close-up on Buck Showalter in the sixth inning after Chris Davis hit his second home run of the night.
All night, the director wisely had a camera practically in Showalter's nose as he leaned on the dugout rail, face pressed against his hand. And he filled the screen with Showalter at all the right moments.
As Davis circled the bases, the camera showed Showalter turning his face to the side as he broke into a sly grin of appreciation at what Davis had just done to the Yankees. It made my night.
And just so no one thinks this is a piece of unadulterated praise, let me say right here that Fox also made one of its few mistakes of the night when it went to what was supposed to be a replay of the Davis homerun seconds later, and all viewers saw was a screen of scrambled, wavy lines.
Fox did manage to find a camera that actually had a shot of the ball leaving the field of play, but it wasn't until two innings later that viewers got to see it.
That was, however, a small irritation compared to the many TV pleasures of the night -- like the director showing Fox's onfield reporter, Baltimore's Ken Rosenthal, kibbutzing during the game with Adam Jones who was leaning on the dugout railing a few feet away from the onfield space where Rosenthal stands.
And what a superb reporter Rosenthal is. When Buck tossed to him for analysis on the possible return of Alex Rodriguez, the always-prepared reporter came out smoking with the three questions that matter on A-Rod: "When is he coming back? How effective will he be? And will he be suspended?'
No pausing, no stumbling, no blah-blah-blah with Rosenthal. He just goes straight to it, and nails it. I love watching Rosenthal work.
The one thing I really did miss with Fox instead of MASN was Jim Palmer. I wish I had him doing analysis instead of McCarver. But I did enjoy the easygoing rapport Buck had with his analyst all night long.
I am sure the blowout wasn't what Fox was hoping for in terms of ratings Saturday night. But for an Orioles fan like me, who loves watching his hometown team on TV, it was a delight to put myself in the hands of a director and camera team that took me that deeply into the game.
I'll be back tomorrow night to let you know what I think of Sunday's telecast on ESPN.
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