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Thoughts On FOX And The 2010 Pennant

(originally written 10/25/10)

The Giants won the pennant! The Giants won the pennant! 

While this pleases me, and it pleases my friends and some relatives, I doubt FOX took the outcome well—a Yankee/Phillie rematch would have been far more lucrative—but it doesn’t have to. FOX had their chance to control who participated in the Fall Classic when they owned the Dodgers, and you saw what they did with the opportunity. (Seriously, $55 million to DREIFORT?) I was sad to discover John Madden had been corrupted by all his years at FOX when he openly declared on KCBS that the Yankees “belonged in the World Series”. 

I don’t pretend to be particularly savvy in media or in business, but I know what I don’t like, and I don’t like FOX having so much control over MLB. They control the start times of the games, and even the days the games are played. Wonder why the World Series has been sprinkling into November like Daylight Savings Time in recent years? The bigwigs at FOX. They don’t want their top programming interrupted by something as dated as the frikkin’ WORLD SERIES. It’s a far greater priority to air every episode of “Blonde Bimbo Shoots Some Men But Has Sex With Others” on time rather than to end the World Series in the month of October, as has been the custom for over 100 years now.

When you’ve paid MLB a billion or so for the rights to broadcast games—a billion that Bud Selig and company are all too happy to accept—you’re not doing it for kicks. You’re doing it in hopes of turning a profit down the line. The Yankees are national. Global, even. They can help you do that. It’s natural, if you’re FOX, to want certain clubs to succeed. 
If the Rays and Reds were this year’s pennant winners, Rupert Murdoch’s spleen would have torn.


I am a baseball fan, and with all these dollars being thrown around and so much control being exerted over start times, start dates, in-game interviews (of which fortunately there were none this NLCS), players wearing mikes, etc., I have concerns as to when the game on the field will be affected. Do any of you have any confidence in Bud Selig to guarantee it’ll never happen? Because I don’t. They’ve already done the abominable “Catcher Cam”. One day they WILL try to advertise on uniforms. They WILL try to air TV promos on the scoreboard between innings (not that I’d mind seeing Keri Russell’s lovely face—it’s the principle).

There will be a Rallo batboy and a Stan Smith/Homer Simpson/Peter Griffin sausage race. Kiefer Sutherland and John Walsh will be “asked” to serve as balldudes. And I have no doubt in mind they’ll try to buy umpires, although these days how can you tell if an ump is on the take or not? MY WORD.

Furthermore, I take issue with the way FOX does baseball games. It FEELS corporate, and no baseball fan wants their game to be presented to them that way. Can I pinpoint why? Easily. Reason A: Joe Buck. I’m not a Joe Buck hater like so many of my fellow Giants fans are, but he presents an Ivy League image I am just not down with. It’s not his broadcasting, which is tolerable. It’s just the man. 

Reason B: The E-Trade “Ups” and “Downs”. They have found a way to tie the stock market in with televised major league baseball. What idiot thought this would be a good idea? When fans are watching baseball, the LAST thing we want to think about are economics—even our own. We accept the Verizon ads. We accept the Burger King ads. We know bills have to paid. Yakking on cell phones and stuffing our faces are part of baseball. $ ain’t. We do not accept anything that reminds us of finances, which have become a very sore point in MLB over the past two decades.


My memory has long erased the telecasts of 2009, so without your assistance, I won’t be able to confirm whether or not this is the first year FOX has used their NFL opening music for baseball. There was nothing wrong with their MLB music. Their MLB music was perfectly fine. All this switch has done is screw me up. I hear the network going to commercial break and I half-expect to be watching Brett Favre trotting to the sideline. Let’s not forget those close-ups of the pitcher’s face before almost every pitch. They are supposed to be dramatic; I get the “why”. But walk-off home runs are supposed to be dramatic, too. Yet if you saw one every pitch, wouldn’t the novelty wear off? ’Nuff said…

Then there’s PitchTrak, which is what ESPN’s K-Zone would be if Stewie Griffin cloned it. You may as well call it “Bitch K-Zone”; it’s that useful. It’s blatantly incorrect at times, yet the company men Buck and Tim McCarver will often ignore false Traks and declare the pitch “right there”. Clearly, these two are familiar with George Costanza’s mantra: “It’s not a lie…if YOU believe it.” I’m not even going to pick on McCarver in this article. It would be like picking on Muhammad Ali, except Ali doesn’t deserve it.

It took 3.5 games for me to finally say “Screw the delay. I’m turning on KNBR.” My listening experience improved about 431%. Even though KNBR was a full pitch ahead of FOX, it was worth it. Only in the end, the climactic Game 6, was the delay even acknowledged—we were gathered in my living room, holding hands as if about to pray at a vigil for a fallen loved one. On every pitch from Brian Wilson to Ryan Howard, we tensed up, shutting our eyes and clutching tighter. It seemed like the at-bat went on for 25 pitches. My heart fluctuated between racing and stopping altogether. TENSE. TORTURE.

Finally, Jon Miller declared Howard had K’d looking on a cutter.
We DID NOT believe him. 
Believing him would mean the Giants won the pennant, and I wasn’t sure how to deal with that.
“Wait, wait. It could be wrong. Go to the T.V.”
15 seconds later, the T.V. told the same story. Howard was out.

I was holding my little daughter by this time and had to fight my basic urges to not throw her up in the air, as our apartment came with a ceiling. This moment was worth the torture, worth the confusion brought on when Harry Kalas’ son, who appears to be a 12-year-old Caucasian, did his best Rick Astley in belting out “God Bless America” like a 48-year-old brotha—worth every inane Tim McCarver stat (“That’s the second time a player has thrown his bat on a swing. Both times Renteria.”)

It is fortunate (for me) no other women besides the one I'm with were around, because I WOULD have spun them to face me and I WOULD have planted a juicy celebratory kiss upon their lips and I WOULD have endured serious nut pain as punishment. Or not. I think I’ll put that to the test in the Series clincher. Nothing short of my death will prevent me from watching the Giants secure their first S.F. championship with dozens—if not hundreds—of my Giants brethren. 

I like Ron Washington, and as a baseball fan I’m very glad to see the Rangers get to the World Series instead of the same tired, old Yankees and Red Sox. I really didn’t care WHO the A.L. rep was, so long as it wasn’t either of those two. As a friend pointed out to me, Ranger and ex-Giant Bengie Molina will get a ring no matter what. And so will Giant and ex-Ranger Chris Ray. 

Guys like Waldis Joaquin, Brandon Medders, Darren Ford, Mark DeRosa, Ryan Rohlinger, etc. probably will, too. My general understanding from following baseball for 20 years is any player who contributed to the team who isn’t released or traded out of the organization will get bling, or at least a financial share, unless his teammates vote against it. Exceptions exist, and I won’t pretend to know what the Giants will do or who will/won’t receive a ring specifically. I DO know Boston gave Nomar a ring in 2004 even though he was traded away, and they gave Kason Gabbard and David Murphy (who were traded for Eric Gagne) rings in 2007…

They have their work cut out for them. The Rangers didn’t get to the Series by accident—they’re a deep team with a Hall-of-Fame bat (Vlad Guerrero) amidst a sea of All-Star bats (Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler, Michael Young and of course the superstar Josh Hamilton). For the first time ever, their pitching is equal to their great hitting—Cliff Lee needs no introduction, but C.J. Wilson and Tommy Hunter are very good too, plus Colby Lewis just threw eight great innings to eliminate the Yankees. Darren Oliver and Frankie Francisco will set up nicely for Neftali Feliz (no relation to Pedro). 

SF beat the Phillies in spite of not playing consistently well. I don’t think they can get away with that against Texas. Have to catch the ball. Have to throw the ball. No crazy wild pitches. Throw strikes. No baserunning mistakes. No missed signs or blown bunts. Most importantly, the Giants cannot wait until the second-to-last batter of the series for somebody other than Cody Ross to go deep! Lincecum, Cain, Huff, Posey—you have a contingent waiting to EXPLODE if you guys can bring it home. 

You owe us your best and we’re counting on it.
Let’s turn those Texas Rangers into Top Flight Security.
Bring it home, Orange and Black—and I’ll SEE you at the parade…

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