austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

For all we have to do is win just one more game

Combining thoughts of the game I saw with what I watched of the All-Star game: is it just me or is baseball really poorly served by television coverage? I know it's popular to claim that baseball's a lethargically paced 19th century sport, but watch a game in person and that's just not so. It's a short time between pitches where the action gets going really fast, and even in-between there's always somebody in motion and something happening even if it's not strategically valuable. A regular game may last three hours, but that's not all that different from how long a football game will last either.

And yet, watch a game on television, and it does seem like there's a few precious seconds of game stretched out to days of coverage. I grant some of it is that it's always more exciting to be at an event and surrounded by tens of thousands of people sharing the event and drinking in the energy of the performance, and even a modern 288-inch television set can't match a three-tier stadium around you. Counterbalancing that, though, is you have only the one vantage point to watch the game, you don't have instant replays or alternate views, you don't have commentary to describe things, and if you want to check on game statistics you have to stop paying attention to the game, however fleetingly. The endless chopping of moments into replays, alternate views, and interviews with people not playing can't help, but every sport suffers from that anytime Network Master Command thinks there isn't enough activity.

Maybe part of why baseball isn't so interesting on television is that it's a hard game to fit inside the television set: the players are spread out over a lot of real estate and if your camera uses a wide-enough angle lens to take in just the whole infield the players are going to be no more than dozens of pixels high. If you want to be able to see people's faces, the players have to be tucked into nearly isolated boxes floating free of any context. Football and soccer have similar problems in the players getting lost on the giant field, but football lends itself also to satisfying clusters of interacting players often. Soccer meanwhile ... well, I've never seen a soccer game on television that I was really interested in, but it does get better when half the field or so is on screen at once. Basketball and hockey are played in reasonably crowded arenas where you can take in half the playing field in one shot and still see the individuals. I don't know why it should matter whether one can see what players nowhere near the ball are doing, but it is some difference.

Trivia: Brigadier General William Hull began the United States's invasion of Canada in 1812 with a landing near a settlement called Sandwich. Source: Union 1812: The Americans Who Fought The Second War Of Independence, A J Langguth.

Currently Reading: Sweet and Low: A Family Story, Rich Cohen.

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