I watched the last two innings of the Dodgers vs. Braves game tonight on TBS. The Dodgers beat the Braves 7 to 6. The teams were tied 6 to 6 from the fourth through the sixth innings. In the bottom of the seventh, the Dodgers scored a run. The eighth and the ninth innings were over within fifteen minutes.
There was no Fast Trax pitching apparatus this time, but a few other observations came about as I watched the game. I gasped and grumbled a few times (with as much intensity as I’ve done in the past while watching Falcons linebackers fail to tackle opposing players or intercept passes). While Dodgers player Nomar Garciaparra was at bat, I started to think back on all those Braves games I watched on TV in the 1990s. How much has televised baseball changed visually from then to now? I remember there were more profile long shots, where a player’s entire body would fit on the screen, of the pitcher and batter.
I also started thinking about the coverage and the images shown. Even when the number of players that make it to home plate determine the number of runs, and thus the score, the cameras tend to focus on the batting, the pitching, the midfield, and the outfield when applicable. What if there’s a runner on first and one on third? The camera is going to stay with the pitcher-batter exchange until the ball is hit. Rather than selecting to go with a wider shot that would allow the viewers to see both third-to-home and first-to-second, the producer or director will opt to go with the camera that has first base and its vicinity within the shot.
If the runner on third makes it to home, the announcers will inform the viewers, but if anyone watching the game on TV wants to see that running happen, they’d have to wait until the instant replay. On the other hand, a football team scores by making touchdowns and successful two or three-point conversions, and the director or producer of a football telecast would never choose to go to a camera that doesn’t have the end zone in sight.
Despite the conceptual differences between these two sports, what is the touchdown in football analogous to in baseball? In terms of function, it would be the homerun, right? The physical act of reaching home plate. Then why doesn’t this action receive more airtime in telecasts? Exploding off the line of scrimmage isn’t exactly the like pitching, and yet they both serve the same purpose of starting the next play and receive comparable amounts of camera coverage and airtime.
Perhaps the touchdown would not get the amount and degree of coverage if there was a designated number of receivers whose job entails getting to the end zone to await passes made by the quarterback and a few other players who are responsible for throwing the ball into the end zone. That, however, would be a whole other game all together. It would be called basefootball or footbaseball.
It could be fun, though. The linebackers would protect the receivers running to the end zone. The team not in possession of the ball could only tackle the receivers, not the quarterback or the “throwbacks”–ha!–who cannot travel outside twenty yards of line of scrimmage. Passes could be intercepted by the running backs. The running backs from the team with possession of the ball would have to ferry the ball to the end zone if necessary.
Would it work? As much as baseketball? Speaking of Baseketball (David Zucker, 1998), after watching this clip, I think I’ll have to add it to my next football movie post.