Thursday, July 12, 2007

Where the action isn't

I'm watching the All-Star baseball game the other night. Actually, it was only the pre-game introductions and the first inning. It's been a long time since the former "Mid-Summer Classic" held my interest for more than a half-hour.

Anyway, they were honoring the great Willie Mays. Best baseball player I ever saw (and I grew up a Yankees' fan in the Mickey Mantle era). Willie's in his late 70s, but still gets around OK. There he was, striding in from centerfield, interacting with his godson Barry Bonds and the other reverential stars from both leagues. It was a touching moment.

And what did we see on Fox TV? Crowd shots. People standing and cheering. First this side of the stadium, then that side. Then a closeup. We were watching the fans' reaction to what was happening on the field. What we weren't watching was what was happening on the field.

Same thing the other day during the YES telecast of the Yankees' Old Timers Day introductions. Same thing when there's a touchdown or a big basket or a game-winning goal: crowd shot.

I think it was the great New York Post columnist Phil Mushnick who made this observation years ago: If you were in attendance at a baseball game and somebody hit a home run, where would your attention be focused, on the player rounding the bases to be greeted by teammates, or on the other people in the stadium?

Why do TV sports directors do it? To make it seem like you're there? Fine. Tell the announcers to stop talking, turn up the volume on the cheering (or booing) fans and show me what's happening on the field.

They won't do it because they haven't for decades. I can't figure it out.
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