Monday, April 14, 2008

Baseball fans and race fans ended up angry

OK, NASCAR fans, before you even start.

Fox Sports tried to keep everybody happy Saturday afternoon and evening and wound up pleasing nobody. The people who work for the network will be the first to tell you things didn’t turn out as Fox hoped it would when a rain delay pushed the New York Yankees-Boston Red Sox baseball game back into the start of the Subway Fresh Fit 500 from Phoenix International Raceway.

Fox was actually trying to do the right thing. I know how NASCAR fans are, believing that a race – including the prerace – should take precedence over any other sport being broadcast. But that’s just not how things work in the real world.

The Yankees-Red Sox game was on in the afternoon and the Sox led 4-3 in the top of the eighth. Alex Rodriguez was coming up with a chance to tie the game or put the Yankees ahead, but the rain got there first. Two hours later, the tarp came off and the game was about to resume.

Fox had actually switched to the race at Phoenix at 7:45 p.m. Eastern, 15 minutes early, when coverage of the other baseball game it had on was complete. But word came that the Yankees and Red Sox would resume about 8:25 p.m.

NASCAR agreed to push the start of the Phoenix race back from 8:45 p.m. to 8:53 p.m. to try to allow Fox to show the conclusion of a game that a lot of people have an interest in.

Yes, it’s April and early in the baseball season. But even the most ardent NASCAR-or-nothing fan has to understand the New York-Boston baseball rivalry is special.

The game actually didn’t resume until right at 8:30. The Sox got A-Rod out and held the lead, and then were in the process of completing the win in the top of the ninth. With two outs and a 3-2 count on Robinson Cano kept fouling off Jonathan Papelbon pitches and extending the game.

Fox’s contract with NASCAR required it to show the race from the start. NASCAR tried to help, dallying until 8:55 p.m. Eastern time, but a moment after the green flag flew Fox switched from baseball to the race with cars coming up to speed on the first lap.

Now when the baseball game came back on, announcer Joe Buck told fans the game was also being shown on FX cable and that the Fox network feed would have to switch to racing at 8:53 p.m., leaving the baseball game on FX only. Two pitches after the switch was made, Cano grounded out and the baseball game ended.

Fox wanted to show the end of the baseball game and the start of the race to everybody on the network. What it wound up doing was showing neither. You could be cynical about it and say the network was trying to have the best of both worlds, hoarding as many viewers as possible for its network ratings by going for a gamble that failed.

Or, you could say Fox’s heart was in the right place as it tried to give everybody what they wanted and they just got unlucky.

Fans on both sides of the fence were irate.

The New York Daily News compared the decision to switch to NASCAR to the famous “Heidi” incident in1968 when NBC switched from a football game to show a movie version of “Heidi” only to miss a furious late-game rally.

Some NASCAR fans, typically, had zero perspective on the spot Fox found itself in. Some fans actually complained they didn’t get to see the national anthem, flyover and prerace command to fire engines. They didn’t feel baseball should be even allowed to infringe for a moment on the race telecast.

Turn that around. What if a race had started at 3 p.m. and, after a two-hour rain delay, had been resumed. Then, because of contractual obligations, a network would have had to switch away from the final two laps of a race to show the first pitch of a baseball game? Wouldn’t that have sent race fans into a tizzy? Sure it would have.

Fox’s mistake, in hindsight, was putting the baseball game back on Fox to start with. The network should have merely put a crawl across the screen saying the baseball game had resumed and was being shown on FX, and the NASCAR commentators could have mentioned that, too. It would have avoided the awkward, last-second switching that satisfied nobody.

But, to the network’s credit, the effort that was made was one of trying to serve viewers. It didn’t work out like Fox or the viewers would have wanted it to, but shouldn’t there be some credit for even trying?

41 comments:

okla21fan said...

It was a no win situation for Fox, just as it will be come fall when ESPN is doubling up on College Football and Nascar coverage. It is bound to happen from time to time.

Anonymous said...

This is not the first time tv producers have fouled out in broadcasts. There are many times I have witnessed missing the start of a race because of poor planning. These are professional people and should know that stupid errors like this will not be a win for anyone. the race was to start at a certain time and so be it. Move the stupid ballgame before the race time and all will be happy. Somebody at FOX Network needs a prayer meeting about schedules.

Sympliredd said...

With all the technology available out there in TV land why couldn't they do a split screen of both events to ensure that everyone saw the end of the Sox/Yankees and the start of the race? It just seems no one was thinking out of the box... they have the technology... use it, then it makes everyone happy.

partsman427 said...

Nice job FOX.
Next time try to show somebody something instead of everybody nothing.

I hope your advertisers noticed your incompitence.

Baseball and NASCAR fans sure did.

Anonymous said...

The Yankee's and Red Sox play 15 more times this year on the regular season schedule... yes, 15 more times! Not too mention this was game 3 of a 3 game series of that WEEK! yes, they already played twice last week before Sunday... oh yea, and they play again this week, 2 more times...

Unbelievable! David Poole, your bread is buttered with Nascar. Dont defend MLB or Fox on this one... they were wrong and it was poorly executed. Fox has Fox Channel, Fox SS and FX... big paychecks couldnt figure that one out huh?

Did we miss anything on Brienne Davis in the pre race show?

Anonymous said...

What about picture in picture/split screen? Yeah, people would have pissed and moaned that "their sport" got the short end of the stick and was in the "small" picture, but at least you could have seen both. Put a crawl on the bottom of the screen saying the baseball game or the race could be seen full screen with sound on FX. I think that is the best Fox could have done under the circumstances.

Anonymous said...

It was just a tough position for Fox to be in. Being both a baseball fan (GO Braves!) and Nascar fan, I like what they were trying to do. With a little luck they would have pulled it off. Take away a couple of foul balls and it would have worked perfectly. But they should have switched coverage back to the race a half lap before they did. But it's really not that big of a deal to miss half of a lap. The problem I did have with the Fox broadcast was some of the race footage. When Newman had his problems all I could hear DW saying was "cars are wrecking everywhere" but they were showing only Newman's car. After at least 30 seconds they finally cut to Sorenson's car for a few seconds and then showed everyone else that was involved. It is unexcusable for not showing us what DW was talking about especially when its a big crash like that. I'm not going to get into the footage of the race as they crossed the finish line. I don't know what they were trying to show there. Sounds like to me they need a new director.

Sympliredd said...

We need to stop making excuses for the networks!! If it wasn't for us watching, they wouldn't even be there. They are not taking the fans into consideration at all.. it's all about the money these days. All they had to do was put up the PIP and both fans would have been happy. How many times did we seem them do that when Barry Bonds was up to bat to make sure we all got to see history in the making... they could have done that on Saturday.

Anonymous said...

Ugh, Nascar sucks anyways. Who cares about that trash. Its a bunch of freaking cars driving in circles!

Sympliredd said...

Well, if you don't like NASCAR, then no need to be on this blog.. find somewhere else to post.

stricklinfan82 said...

Here's my opinion:

The fairest thing would have been to keep the baseball game on Fox until its conclusion and put the start of the race on FX. In my opinion the end of any sporting event that has been on a channel for hours should take priority over the start of another.

I cursed ABC when they dumped last year's Kansas Cup race and this year's Bristol Nationwide race to cable, so for consistency's sake I have to apply the same standard to Saturday night's happenings, even though I'm a NASCAR fan and couldn't have cared less about that baseball game.

Having said ALL THAT, once the decision was made that baseball would move to FX and Fox would switch back to Phoenix for the green flag, THEY HAD TO follow through with that decision. When the NASCAR green flag was chosen as the priority there should have been no holding out for one more pitch that might have ended the game but didn't. The plug had to be pulled at 8:52 or so NO MATTER WHAT was going on in the baseball game.

Making a definitive choice on airing baseball or NASCAR on Fox had to be made, and someone's feelings had to get hurt. By waffling on their decision-making and leaving baseball too early AND joining NASCAR too late, they ended up hurting everyone.

Anonymous said...

I was watching the baseball game and had to scramble to find FX so I could see the last out.

Was it an unfortunate situation? Yeah. But it's not the end of the world and sometimes, things like this happen on live TV. At least NASCAR fans got to see 99.9% of the race, including the finish.

I think we have to cut FOX some slack here, like David says. The lengthy rain delay dealt them a bad hand and they tried to make it work for fans of both sports. No sense getting worked up about it - just move on the next ballgame or the next race!

Anonymous said...

To the idiot who wrote that NASCAR should have taken precedence because the Yankees and Red Sox play 15 more times this year, and had already played twice this week:

Guess what - NASCAR has more than 15 races left this year, and has had how many races this year already? Its the same guys racing every week. I'm sorry that missing the first half lap ruined your day. It ruined mine having to listen to Darrell Waltrip, so lets call it even. There's more to life than NASCAR and the WWE, and btw - Gomer says hey.

Redvette said...

David,

I can't help but think, that had this race been the Daytona 500, or Brickyard 400, that (delayed)baseball goes to the other channel. It was a nothing game, but because of the market, Fox went with baseball. One of 36 events had less value to them than one of 165 events in a major market. Fox messed up.

Anonymous said...

I watch both baseball and NASCAR. And I've seen times before when a station has switched coverage to another channel after a rain delay. With at least three networks that I can think of right off the top of my head (Fox, FSN, and FX) there was no reason to not show complete coverage of either sport. Just let fans know what channel they should have been watching. I didn't much care for ESPN's coverage of NASCAR, but at least when there was conflict, they let you know what station had the coverage. FOX may have been trying their best, but their best simply wasn't the right thing to do.

As for the invocation, the anthem and the flyover, I think you'd find few NASCAR fans who don't consider that to be an integral part of the sport.

Anonymous said...

I was at a local bar enjoying the end of the Red Sox game and freaking out with all the foul balls. I really freaked when all of a sudden the race was on.

The bartenders had no idea how to change the channel to FX. So all I got was the announcement that the Red Sox won, and hours of watching and waiting were a little spoiled at the end.

I don't understand why they could not have done picture in picture - I would not even care if the baseball game got the small screen.

David Poole said...

You can't show two shows on one network. Which one do you do the audio feed on? If one side has commercials, what happens? What happens if Robinson Cano hits a home run, ties the game and it goes to 13 innings? The problem was they tried to do a short-term fix without considering the ramifications if the game pushed longer and longer.

nh_nascarfan said...

I'm going to sound completely selfish here... I'm a hugs Sox fan and guess what... they were beating the evil Yankees, so its all good!

GO SOX!!!

http://jetdryer.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

They do have more than 15 races left, actually its 28 points races left. And how many baseball games are left this season? uhhhhhh, 150! That was game 12 of 162 this regular season. Both teams are about .500 so catching highlights on Sporstcenter would have been fine with me. That being said, seeing A-Rod stikeout was nice!

Baseball would be more fun to watch if they had a "pitch clock" like they have a play clock in football or a shot clock in basketball. I hate seeing a pitcher step off the rubber or a batter step out of the batter box every pitch. The game takes forever! Speed it up.

Anonymous said...

David, David, David. When Helton offers you KoolAid over in the NASCAR hauler, you should politely refuse and walk away. I understand that you're there at the track, and so you don't have the perspective of the fans who are watching on TV, so I think that before you comment on the television coverage, you need to get a DVR or TIVO, and after you've returned home, watch the race the way we see it. You mean to tell me that FOX couldn't do better than it did? Did you go back for seconds on the KoolAid? They had at least two networks to work with, but even better, they could watch an IRL race to see the miracle of the split screen. NASCAR and their networks better wake up, because open wheel is coming back, and IRL (for all their flaws) has figured out what we fans have known for years- that we'll actually stick around during the commercials if there is racing on the screen. Is split screen ideal? No (but you wouldn't be able to hear Waltrip, which is it's own reward). Is it better than FOX's relentless commercial blocks? Absolutely! BTW, the director of this week's broadcast should be banned from the track for life. What a disgrace.

Amy said...

Can someone tell me that the media gluttony that is Fox Sports didn't think of this scenario when they bid on every sport that has any commercial dollar value in America? How many other channels do they need to have a back-up plan?

Anonymous said...

wouldn't have been as bad if we weren't watching warm-ups and tarp rolling. There was very little "game" that I saw while I missed the start of the race.

Anonymous said...

What happened to the old "tape-delay" method of sports broadcasting? Tape delay the race, let the green flag fall on time at the track, let Fox show the end of the baseball game while scrolling a message across the bottom to the nascar fans that the race would be seen in its entirety at the end of the baseball game, then show the race including all pre-race activities at will. Simple!

MArc said...

ANON - well it only took two comments before some non-thinking buffoon made his presence felt... "There are many times I have witnessed missing the start of a race because of poor planning. These are professional people and should know that stupid errors like this will not be a win for anyone. the race was to start at a certain time and so be it."

So tell me smart guy, are you so good at prognostication that YOU could have clued in the TV execs in enough time that there was going to be a 2/1/2 hour delay in the ball game?

If you are I'll be the first to write a letter of recommendation to Fox in full support of hiring you to solve this problem once and for all times.

MArc said...

And another unthinking "ANON" speaks - "Unbelievable! David Poole, your bread is buttered with Nascar. Dont defend MLB or Fox on this one... they were wrong and it was poorly executed."

And your solution is what. Before you answer keep in mind Fox was under contractual obligation to show the race from the green flag, nothing more nothing less.

In addition Fox was under the same contractual obligation to show the ball game on the national network.

So "ANON" what do you do?

Fox made every effort to complete both obligations, the single problem was they could have, but weren't required to, show split screen so both sides of this over-zealous whine party would be happy.

David Poole said...

To the fan who said this:

I understand that you're there at the track, and so you don't have the perspective of the fans who are watching on TV, so I think that before you comment on the television coverage, you need to get a DVR or TIVO, and after you've returned home, watch the race the way we see it. You mean to tell me that FOX couldn't do better than it did? Did you go back for seconds on the KoolAid?

First, as I said in the blog I wrote I was not at the track this weekend and did watch this one on television. I also wrote that they could have done better by leaving the baseball game on FX.

NH_NascarFan said...

Anonymous said...
'What happened to the old "tape-delay" method of sports broadcasting? Tape delay the race, let the green flag fall on time at the track, let Fox show the end of the baseball game while scrolling a message across the bottom to the nascar fans that the race would be seen in its entirety at the end of the baseball game, then show the race including all pre-race activities at will. Simple!'

Simple except for those of us who turn down the volume on Fox to listen to the MRN/PRN broadcast!

Bottom line is folks it was a matter of having to be 2 places at once - something that happens to most people in real life. Its just a race and its just a ball game (despite my Red Sox beating the evil Yankees - oh wait, I already mentioned that!); its not the end of the world.

Lets talk some more about the Top 35 rule... ;) GO SOX!

http://jetdryer.blogspot.com/

Monkeesfan said...

Top 35 rule? You're wrong again, Mark, the issue to discuss is why Belichick went for it on 4th and 13!!!!!

;-)


Seriously, since I was jumping around on TV and radios between the Phoenix race, the Boston Bruins vs. Montreal Canadiens (BTW, when did Ben Dreith start working for the NHL in Game Two???), and the New England Surge beating up the Miami Valley Silverbacks 54-26, I missed the whole brouhaha involving what FOX showed where.

Monkeesfan said...

One more thing - you mention being in two places at once, but how can you be in two places at once when you're not anywhere at all?

;-)

Better call Nick Danger on that one.

Anonymous said...

David - You will probably have much better luck in scarfing down your daily king-size platter of pork chops and ribs than you will in trying to solve the tv 'crisis'? So, just stick with what you apparently know best....

Anonymous said...

Dear David,

I read your blog because, well...because I am on one side of the spectrum of auto racing (open wheel road course) and you happen to fall on the other. We are just as passionate about competition, passing, rivalries, drivers, personalities, media coverage ect... I respect NASCAR very much; it happens to be one of the top spectator sports in America (the top if you count local short tracks). First off-The weight jokes-brilliant if this was early 90's SNL, but it isn't, so to those of whom egress into the void of invalid intellectual arguments, please find something concrete to build on before a poorly constructed rebuttal is built. Second; I disagree with Mr. Poole on a lot of things, but I do not disagree with (A) His first person accounts (B) His insight into the behind the scenes goings on that the casual observer cannot see (Most TV viewers) (C) His body of knowledge from many years of NASCAR fan viewing and coverage. With that said, it's FOX. The same network where a duality exists between it's news channel, and it's basic channel. The same network that hosts many of the sporting events just about 90 percent of the male population of America will tune into see at one point or another throughout the year. Here is my humble conclusion to all of this...
Turn on the radio, listen to the most exciting racing broadcasting, and switch to the tele when the race comes on, if you don't already have the tele on mute in the background; or just watch a ballgame and wait for the coverage to switch, most races last 3 hours anyway; or pray to any deity and hope that ESPN buys rights sometime, brings Paul Page into the fold, uses split screen for 70 percent of the race. Then again, America has how many channels that air how many pro sports? Maybe we should just chalk this up to "one of those things" and move on, have a couple of pints, and be thankful our passion (racing) actually gets live air time!?

nh_nascarfan said...

Monkeesfan said...
One more thing - you mention being in two places at once, but how can you be in two places at once when you're not anywhere at all?

;-)

You obviously don't have kids! To have to be at one kids soccer field at 630pm, and other kids school at 630 pm, and you are stuck in traffic in between... that's how!

BTW - hoping the Big Bruins hold out long enough to not send anyone down to the PBruins for their playoff series with the Monarchs that starts tonight - GO MONARCHS!

http://jetdryer.blogspot.com/

Monkeesfan said...

nh nascarfan, now I know you're a traitor - the Providence Bruins, winner of the 1999 Calder Cup, are the greatest team in the history of the American Hockey League and are destined to roll to their second Calder Cup!!!!!!

;-)

Was that over the top and homerist enough?

Seriously, you're right, I don't have kids, though 10 nieces and nephews and one five-month-old grandnephew can be a handful.

I'm a little screwed this Friday night because the Wolves have their home opener at the same time as Game Two of P-Bruins and Monarchs. ;-)

BTW, I hope you got the Firesign Theater joke there.

nh_nascarfan said...

Greatest team in AHL History, huh? Yah, a bit over the top... when they win 7 more cups to tie Hershey, then maybe... and that pains me to type!

Are you attending game 2 in Providence?

I did eventually pick up on the joke... not bad!

http://jetdryer.blogspot.com/

Monkeesfan said...

nh nascarfan - I'm still torn about attending Game Two, especially bcause every P-Bruins playoff game I've ever attended, they lost, plus I've seen well over a dozen games this year; I'm leaning toward going to Manchester to see the Wolves home opener against the Albany Conquest ecaue it's my firt shot at aren footall this season.

It's funny, but this recent controversy brings to mind the October 2005 New England Patriots Bowl - i.e. Notre Dame (Weis) vs. USC (Carroll) - that ran long and delayed the start of Charlotte's 500 miler. I that one things worked out pretty well; too bad they codn't in this case.

nh_nascarfan said...

Monkeesfan said...
nh nascarfan - I'm still torn about attending Game Two, especially bcause every P-Bruins playoff game I've ever attended, they lost,

Then you should definitely go! I can leave a ticket for you at the will call window!

http://jetdryer.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

kitcar racing or baseball?
plow the tracks up, it's been over....

Bruce said...

Do you ever notice how a post deteriorates over time?

Anyway, I wrote FOX and asked them if they hired an ESPN director or something. Fox replied saying they know they goofed.

Yea, they promised us we would not miss the green flag.. oops. 3/4 of a lap late. I think the big confusion was why baseball on both stations? That's really the big pondering!

Here in the Bay area, I saw 3 laps, before they cut away to breaking news about a boat fire that was put out 30 minutes prior, and no one was hurt.

So my race started on Lap 20. It didn't help my insanity.. I mean my mental status about the situation.

Big Dog said...

Wow, you sure sound like a bunch of whiney azz little biotches, crying over missing a start of a race.
Grow up, get a sack and shut up.

Crybabies.

Monkeesfan said...

BTW nh nascarfan - P-Bruins sweep 4-0 - albiet they had to do it with three OT games and one where there was no score until three minutes to go. The Monarchs proved they're a damned good team.

And I did wind up going to Providence for Game 2 - and I got an unexpected night off Monday to go see Game 4 in Manchester.

As far as race starts being missed because of long baseball games, I doubt we'll see something like that again this season.

nh_nascarfan said...

Monkeesfan said...
BTW nh nascarfan - P-Bruins sweep 4-0 - albiet they had to do it with three OT games and one where there was no score until three minutes to go. The Monarchs proved they're a damned good team.

Yup. Well aware. I have season tickets. Sadly, close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. There's always next year...

http://jetdryer.blogspot.com/