May 3, 2018

NESN: Providing You With The Best Replays In Baseball. ... Just Kidding! ... Its Chronic Habit Of Tight Close-ups Is Annoying And Often Doesn't Show Anything Useful

NESN may have its problems, but when it comes to showing replays of Red Sox highlights, its performance is second to none.

Take Wednesday's afternoon game, for example. Here is a replay of Mookie Betts's first home run of the day, leading off the fourth inning.

Announcers often talk about how good hitters keep their front shoulder in and have very little movement of their head during their swing, and I think you can see that here:

Mookie Betts's second home run, which came with one out in the fifth:

Betts went deep a third time, to dead center, with one out in the fifth:

J.D. Martinez hit a two-run homer in the fourth, which tied the game at 3-3. Notice the differences in Martinez's approach at the plate versus Betts's stance:

But NESN doesn't just excel at replays on home run swings. Check out the critical moment from this replay from the eighth inning, when there was some controversy about whether Jon Jay was hit in the left foot with the pitch or whether the ball hit the dirt first:

But seriously ...

First, I swear to you that every picture in this post is the entire television screen.

What is the point of a replay - or an "instant replay", as they used to be called - if it does not show what you are supposed to be seeing?

One of the most annoying - and most baffling - aspects of a NESN baseball broadcast is the excessive zooming in for replays. In addition to the shots in this post, we see this when NESN shows a home run ball sailing out of the park. In many cases, the high left field camera will zoom in tightly on the ball as it flies through the air, on its way into or over the Monster Seats.

But there is absolutely no perspective with these shots. We have no idea where the ball is in relation to anything else in the ballpark (or anything else in the universe, for that matter, since the ball is shown against nothing but the blue sky or white clouds).

If NESN is afraid that fans will be confused and think the replay is part of the live game, it should put a big
in the upper right-hand corner. ... There! Problem solved. ... (No charge, NESN, that one is on me.)

Two examples from last weekend:

Here is Betts about to get hit by a pitch on April 28. In addition to having no idea where Mookie is going to be hit, we actually cannot see the baseball. How can you show a batter getting hit by a pitch if the pitch is out of the frame?

Here is the replay of Martinez's base hit in the first inning on April 29. Again, this is an utter waste of time. It gives us nothing useful.

NESN also has the habit of showing replays from an angle where it is impossible to tell anything about the outcome of the play. Either the runner's foot or the fielder's glove is blocked from our view, so we have no idea what has happened. Since there is a limited amount of time in which to show replays, why not concentrate on the ones that actually serve a purpose?

Often what is needed is a super slo-motion replay and NESN uses this at times - on plays at first, usually. I really like seeing these, but I don't see them often enough. They take longer to show, obviously, but if the director ignored the useless replay angles, there would sufficient time for the frame-by-frame replays. Plus - and this seems fairly important for NESN to keep in mind - viewers might actually be able to see if the correct call was made.

But even if that doesn't happen, NESN's excessive - and pointless and unproductive - zooming in for batter replays has got to stop. Or maybe the network should stop showing replays altogether. I believe that would not annoy me as much as what happens now. Amazingly, as far as my enjoyment of watching Red Sox games, it would be addition by subtraction.


Andrew said...

Is there a team with a network that provides adequate coverage in your opinion?

allan said...

I doubt it! Most (if not all) announcers remain stuck in the 1950s as far as their knowledge of baseball is concerned. They seem to have truly absorbed none of the revolutionary changes that have impacted the game in the last 30-40 years (though they may mention them). Their commentary is hopelessly outdated and often pure nonsense, no matter who is speaking. And because I seem unable to tune those voices out, it bothers me.

However, other networks do seem to be able to show proper replays and not miss pitches and not cut away from actual action to show unnecessary stuff like a guy jogging across the plate. (In the last instance, the announcer would say "Smith scores" and that would be enough.) Other commenters have said NESN also has more irrelevant booth guests and many more announcements for promos than other stations.

Jere said...

The moment that summed up NESN's recent foibles, for me, came the other day, when they missed a pickoff attempt at first (do they EVER cut to the other camera in time?), and since it turned out that the play was close enough for a review, on which the call got overturned, Dave said, "let's see that again." We hadn't seen it the first time.

(Another funny pickoff moment which they've done is when they're showing us the runner, and then there's pickoff attempt, so they cut BACK to the pitcher cam. So they consistently show us where the ball ISN'T.)