Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fox Plans to Play It Straight (Pretty Much) for Baseball

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Fox Plans to Play It Straight (Pretty Much) for Baseball

Article excerpt

Baseball is on Fox's schedule. Gimmicks are off.

The Fox network enters the baseball telecasting business for the first time Saturday as it shows four games regionally.

But there will be no computer-generated glow around the baseball, no gaudy comet-like tail following long fly balls. Fox, the network that has made National Hockey League telecasts look like an arcade game, promises to keep baseball at higher level.

"There will be nothing as dramatic . . . as the glowing puck," said Ed Goren, executive producer of Fox Sports. "This is a tremendous opportunity for us to reestablish something very special, the Game of the Week. Our philosophy will consist of a heavy emphasis on the personalities and story lines surrounding the game."

Fox Sports, which will reach its third birthday in August, insists on attaching some sort of personalized signature to each new major property it acquires. When it began showing the National Football League in 1994, it made a splash by introducing a small box on the screen that keeps viewers abreast of the score and time remaining, a move that has been widely copied. (Yea!) But then it tried to be Steven Spielberg, with its Twister-esque special effects on hockey telecasts. (Nay!)

Fox promises to be tame on baseball, the most tradition-laden of sports.

Aside from some unique camera angles, it's biggest innovation probably will be an information box in the lower right corner of the screen. It will have a small image of a baseball diamond, with a red dot at each bas es that is occupied by a runner. This graphic element also will include the score, the ball-strike count and the number of outs.

Youth Movement: Fox, which tries to appeal to a younger audience than the competition, will follow in that vein by having a youth-oriented show as one of its two 30-minute pregame programs. And in this high-tech culture, when kids use computers instead of textbooks, virtual reality games instead of pinball machines and music videos instead of LPs, Fox will try to bring players of yesteryear to life.

Fox Sports President David Hill was quoted recently as saying he would fire any announcer who mentioned a dead player on the air. …

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