FOX broadcasts stay on cutting edge
Network aims to improve viewer enjoyment during World Series
CHICAGO -- Now in its 10th season broadcasting Major League Baseball, FOX Sports continues to break new ground in its coverage of jewel events like the World Series. This season, FOX will introduce yet another innovation with the new pitch-track graphic.
"With the help of the people from Sport Vision, we've developed the pitch-track graphic that shows the arc of the pitch, the movement of the pitch and the location of the pitch in a box similar to what ESPN does, but this includes the information of speed, the break on the pitch and the movement," said FOX Sports President Ed Goren. "We are going to break that in slowly and experiment with it until it works. I'm a little suspect of it until I see it on air."
Goren loves the new technology, but the longtime executive believes the game sells itself.
"These games are so dramatic already," said Goren. "October is a great month, and you really don't need to do a lot different things. Just as the teams don't need to stop doing things they've done all year, you try not to do too much different than you've done all year."
But one recent addition to the broadcasts has really pleased Goren.
"One of the great things that baseball has helped us with is the manager interviews during the game," said Goren. "The managers have really filled in answers to questions that have evolved during the first five innings. I think it's been a great asset for viewers and, for that matter, the broadcasters to confirm a question that they have had on their mind. Baseball has come farther than any other sport in the last 10 years in becoming viewer-friendly."
In the early days of television, baseball broadcasts used no more than four cameras. This World Series will employ 26 cameras during each game broadcast.
"With only nine men on the field, a guy at bat and maybe three more on the bases at any given time, you've got to wonder," said Goren. "But you want to have to have the definitive replay, and the way the postseason has gone this year, we are proud of the fact that our crews have been able to provide viewers with that definitive replay on questionable calls. And we've certainly had a few [such calls]."
"Here's a guy who has done more World Series broadcasts [than any other broadcaster] by a wide margin," said Goren. "I know he's a Hall of Fame broadcaster in my mind, and he's like a manager in the booth. What Tim does better than anybody is, like a chess game, he's always three moves ahead, anticipating a pinch-hitter, a double switch, a hit-and-run. He's one of the best at it."
"I just keep doing them," said McCarver, who also has two championship rings as a catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals. "Each World Series has its own characteristic with new players. It's a thrilling time of year."
You might think an old-school player like McCarver would not be a fan of the new broadcast technology, but the 64-year-old broadcaster likes the innovations.
"I'm all for anything that improves the viewers' interest in the game," said McCarver. "I understand, from a contemporary standpoint, that we're dealing with younger viewers, and I've never been a traditionalist to the point where it bothers me to introduce new technology. It's fun, it's exciting and I think my bosses at FOX take more chances.
"I think, prior to 1996, everyone wanted to do things the same way, because of the pure part of baseball, whatever that means. I think FOX has made great strides, and I'm all for anything that helps the viewers enjoy a baseball game."
Ben Platt is a national correspondent for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.