Press Coverage: Fox & the Near No-Hitter, Who Would Commentate Your Personal Video Game

When Daisuke Matsuzaka took a no-hitter into the eighth inning against the Phillies on Saturday night, executives at Fox had to be happy. The move from Saturday afternoon baseball to Saturday evening baseball had its first signature moment, with two huge national franchises and a baseball "event" that always gets people buzzing. While the lead Fox crew of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver were in New York for the Subway Series, all the chatter in the baseball community was on the Sox and the Phillies. ↵

↵So while Fox had to be happy that everyone was talking baseball on Saturday night, they couldn't have been pleased that many of those talking were extremely angry Red Sox fans: ↵

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↵⇥Dear MLB: thx for blacking out Saturday games so I can't see possible no-hitters. You continue to be the Sheriff of Suck City. ↵
↵That salutation was from none other than Boston's greatest export: Bill Simmons. "Hello, MLB…you (stink)." His Tweet was re-sent by more than 100 people (presumably much more than that but Twitter caps the count after 100 retweets) and echoed by out-of-market Red Sox fans the world over. The issue, in this case, was that unless Fox was beaming the Sox and Phillies to your market, you couldn't see the game. Fans in New York had the Subway Series. Fans in Los Angeles had the Dodgers and Tigers, and so on. With Fox only showing the local team in certain markets – or their lead game in other markets – some fans hoped to tap into the Extra Innings package to see "Dice-K" try to no-hit the Phillies. Unfortunately, Fox games are blacked out on that service. Yes, fans who pay for access to out-of-market games can't watch the best Saturday out-of-market games, at least if Fox has the rights. ↵

↵This did not sit well with Red Sox fans, nor, for that matter, fans of the game of baseball in markets that didn't have access to that game. Heck, any fan of the game had to be interested in a potential no-hitter, so why not flip the switch to let Extra Innings pick up the action from the seventh inning on? Why couldn't Fox throw that game on FX or another channel and alert fans to go there? Or, what seemed to make the most sense, why not throw the game on MLB Network for those not getting the game on Fox? ↵

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↵Fox Sports spokesman Lou D'Ermilio explained the network's situation in the markets that did not carry the game, and the Fox plan had the no-hitter gone into the final frame: ↵

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↵⇥We provided each of our other games several cut-ins to the Sox-Philly game. We also planned to carry the bottom of the ninth nationally had the no-hitter been intact. 

 ↵⇥

↵⇥Our exclusivity on Saturdays exists to protect our local affiliates. It's a contractual stipulation that was agreed to by MLB and by extension each of the clubs. ↵⇥

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↵Kudos to Fox for planning to show the ninth to the entire nation, a plan that, yes, comes with a bit of hindsight since that situation didn't actually occur. As for the protection of local affiliates, it makes sense that the local Los Angeles affiliate would not want the announcers of a Dodgers game to tell the audience to turn on FX or Fox News in the middle of their telecast. But in a unique situation like a no-hitter or perfect game, shouldn't those rules be relaxed a bit? ↵

↵To the point that Fox games are not part of the Extra Innings package, I'm not exactly sure how that protects the affiliates. Red Sox fans want to watch their team. If the Sox aren't on, how many fans will watch the Dodgers just because it's baseball? Unlike the NFL, baseball is a far more community-centric sport, so it doesn't seem likely that making certain out-of-market games unavailable will help drive the ratings of the game that is on. ↵

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↵Having said that, it's obvious that Fox pays a lot of money to have those exclusive rights to produce split-national broadcasts on Saturday, so that isn't going to change anytime soon. But in the case of a special baseball event – like a potential no-hitter or perfect game – Major League Baseball should be able to step in and put the Fox production on their network. Forget about saving the Texas Rangers, it's situations like this when Bud Selig should use his "best interest of the game" clause. ↵

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↵Who Would Do Commentary for the Video Game of Your Life ↵
↵The big news last week in the video game world was the official announcement that Gus Johnson will be the voice in EA Sports' Madden '11. That news led me to wonder: if EA Sports came to you and wanted to make a video game of your life, who would you pick to do the commentary? ↵

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↵I posed that question online Sunday night and got some great responses, none better than Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse "the Body" Ventura. But with Monsoon long since passed on, it'd be difficult to get him to do the call. So, with apologies to the likes of John Facenda, Harry Kalas, Myron Cope, Howard Cosell and Jack Buck (all submitted), you'd need to find someone who could actually do the job. I received some great living suggestions as well, and they are included in the list below. ↵

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↵Let's be honest, it's too hard to pick one voice to do the play-by-play or analysis of your life in a video game, so why not pair the announcer to the life event? That might go something like this: ↵

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↵Major Life Events ↵
↵Birth: Keith Jackson. He could be used for your birth to start the game or for the birth of a child. Jackson adds an appropriate amount of gravitas to any situation, would handle it with class and dignity, and obviously, give a nice "oh, Doctor," to culminate the event. ↵

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↵Bar Mitzvah: Marv Albert. On the day you become a man? I don't know one Jewish boy who wouldn't pick Marv Albert to commemorate that. (Note: to keep it in the TNT family, perhaps the very religious Ernie Johnson to do one's Holy Communion?) ↵

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↵Prom: Gus Johnson. Look, for many a young lad, the prom is the first opportunity to, well…let's just say that the ebullience Gus brings, coupled with his catch-phrase "Rise and Fire," seems appropriate for a night like that. ↵

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↵ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵ ↵
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↵Graduation: Vin Scully. Everyone knows that graduations are boring. Vin Scully makes everything sound interesting. ↵

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↵Hey, what about the other stuff? ↵
↵Look, the video game can't be all major milestones. What about the day-to-day stuff like doing taxes and grocery shopping? Based on submissions, that would to go one of two people. First, Bill Raftery, who has a joy about him that would be great for everyday activities. First date? "With the kiss." Second date? "A little lingerie lingering." Trip to the supermarket? "Onions!" ↵

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↵ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵ ↵
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↵The other, courtesy of Zach Harper at Talk Hoops: ↵

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↵⇥Kevin Harlan. ALWAYS Kevin Harlan. "Zach Harper pours a second bowl of Lucky Charms... WITH NO REGARD FOR HIS OWN HEALTH!" ↵
↵Okay, back to the big events… ↵

↵Wedding: This gets split into three categories; bachelor party, wedding and honeymoon. For the bachelor party, let's assume you hit Vegas or Atlantic City, so how could you pick anyone other than Brent Musberger? For the actual wedding, Pat Summerall could provide great balance between the wedding ceremony and the reception (insert open bar joke here). For the honeymoon, it has to be Mike Emrick, because if you've been watching this year's hockey action in both the Stanley Cup playoffs and the Olympics, it's perfectly clear that nobody gets more excited than Doc when someone scores. ↵

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↵Death: Jim Nantz or Mike Lange (tie). It really depends how you die, doesn't it? If it's a sad and tragic death, there's nobody who can provide a proper backdrop like Nantz. His "hello friends" would never be more welcoming. ↵

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↵But, if you live a long life and your funeral is as much a celebration as it is a tragic mourning, there'd be nobody better than Pittsburgh Penguins announcer Mike Lange. Come on, "ladies and gentlemen, the kitchen is closed." "Buy Sam a drink and get his dog one too." How about, "he doesn't know whether to cry or wind his watch." And of course, "Elvis has left the building." ↵

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↵ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵⇥ ↵ ↵
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↵The New York Super Bowl is Something New York Media Really Wants ↵
↵You'd think that the media in New York would want the Super Bowl to be in some tropical location, so they can get a nice vacation instead of being stuck in New Jersey in the middle of winter during Super Bowl week. With the announcement of whether or not New York will host the 2014 Super Bowl coming this week, it's hard to find a writer in New York who doesn't think it's a great idea. Take, for example, Mike Lupica: ↵

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↵⇥People worry about the weather for a Super Bowl Sunday here. Giants and Jets fans laugh at that; weather never stops them. If people from out of town are worried about the elements, they can sit in an empty stadium and wait for the game to go back to Florida. ↵
↵Yeah, out of town people. You can sit in an empty stadium…in Florida…instead of in your own home…to watch the game on TV. What's funniest about the New York media having this "it'll be too cold" chip on their shoulders is that most people – not all, but most – don't seem to mind the game being played in the cold. There will be close to 100,000 people at the game. The other 39.9 million of us will be on the couch (or, presumably, in an empty stadium trying to figure out what the heck is going on). It seems like the New York media created this chip on their shoulder just so they can defend the premise. ↵

↵Look at the ratings for playoff games and invariably a game played in the snow is a higher draw. Football in the elements? We love it. And after the wet and messy track in Florida a few years ago, fans realized that even in warm-weather locations, nothing is perfect. So why the heck not New York? If, for nothing else, to stop the local writers from writing that same question over and over again. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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