I’m grateful for this piece in today’s New York Times by Richard Sandomir critiquing the network’s handling of the last game of the World Series.
A main point is the use made popular in the last few years of the baseball version of the “sideline reporter,” only much less serious. In football, a SR will give the up-to-the-second news about a player’s injury or what the head coach muttered about what he has to do when on the downside of a 52-0 game at half-time (“We just have to keep pounding at ‘em and believe in ourselves.”) or some such nonsense. (But is this what other countries think of American sports? And is it sexist of me to point out that the vast majority of SRs are attractive women?)
In baseball, given its much more leisurely pace and lower injury-risk factor, there’s the “fan-in-the-crowd” story or an interesting tidbit about a player. Of course, that also give the baseball reporter more chance to make a fool of him/herself.
I’ll give Erin Andrews this one; it’s gotta be tough trying to interview such a young kid.
But, As Sandomir points out, there’s no excuse in other instances where preparation is key
Andrews seemed awkward at times, checking her note cards, as if to prove how programmed this sort of event is. She addressed Commissioner Bud Selig, with whom she struggled for possession of the microphone, as “Mr. Selig,” and John Henry, the Red Sox’ principal owner, as “Mr. Henry.” This is baseball, not the military; she should have felt comfortable enough to address them by their first names.
Earlier, she was poorly prepared while in the stands interviewing Arthur D’Angelo, an octogenarian fan seated near the field; he is far better known than she or Fox realized. He is not, as she called him, a worker at a convenience store that sells T-shirts and hats across the street from Fenway; he is a local business legend who owns a large souvenir emporium on Yawkey Way, founded a prominent licensed apparel manufacturer and recently had a nearby street named for him.
And as noisy as it was at Fenway, a reporter at the World Series must be more precise in her questioning than when she asked D’Angelo, “What would it be like for you to finally see the Red Sox win a World Series game here?”
And as long as I’m grousing, I’m not too crazy about on-field celebrations (where the players don their World Championship shirts and caps) and the interviews conducted by the TV reporters being played over the stadium’s PA system. One audience at a time. Let’s get the guys off the field and celebrating in the clubhouse, where they belong.
As Sandomir observes
There is a certain sterility to these modern celebrations, a stage-managed lack of spontaneity that would argue against anything like that moment of pure ebullience when Wade Boggs rode a police officer’s horse after the Yankees won the 1996 World Series.
Perhaps my feeling about something lost in this evolution to programmed civility arises from being more a viewer at home than a fan in attendance. At Game 6 on Wednesday, Boston Red Sox fans saw their team win its third World Series in 10 seasons and could revel, from their Fenway Park seats, in the players’ joy on the field. And that is all good — but something primal is lost when the boozy, sweaty chaos of a clubhouse has been replaced by a planned postgame event with players and team personnel milling on the field.