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Fretful Red Sox fans part of drama

Published October 22, 2004

In Boston, for the price of a ticket to a baseball game, you can get on TV.

Any ticket, any seat, just show up, furrow your brow, bury your hands in your gloves, wave a sign, pull your child close, maybe force a tear.

It won't be 15 seconds of fame, but for friends and family watching at home, just seeing your mug on screen for even one second should be the thrill of a lifetime.

This has been bothering some critics, who claim Fox has gone overboard with its shots of the angst-ridden fans, primarily those from Boston. Better get used to it, though, because now that Boston is in the World Series and the Curse of the Bambino teeters on the brink of extinction, the bipolar state of Red Sox Nation will remain on center stage.

Yes, the crowd shots have been a tad excessive, but Fox Sports president Ed Goren said on a conference call Thursday that critics have it all wrong. He cited an op-ed in USA Today about the sport, and how "it talks about baseball and the drama, going from players to the crowd to the manager. I think that in all fairness, yes, for the most part in most sports, the story is on the field, but in postseason baseball it seems to go beyond that."

And Goren says Fox's baseball coverage has the Emmy Awards to back it up.

"Our directors paint a beautiful visual picture as they transmit through those wires the tension that is being felt, not just by the players and the manager and the guys in dugout. It's felt throughout the ballpark. And yes, to some people, they may not like it. I think for most, it brings them right into that ballpark in a manner that no other sports championship does."

According to Richard Sandomir in the New York Times, Monday's Game 5 was the tipping point.

"Fox found fans at their most vulnerable: 69 times, its cameras found the loyal subjects of Red Sox Nation in prayerful poses (or were they just blowing on their chilly hands for warmth?)," he wrote. "In 46 shots, fans were shown holding placards (from "We Believe Thank You Ortiz' and "Manny Is My Daddy' to "A Real Fan Won't Lose Faith'). Not surprisingly, with tension at its peak in the bottom of the 14th, Fox showed 23 crowd shots."

But Goren is right. The Boston-New York series was as much about the fans as it was the players. Is there any question that the plight of Red Sox fans is what so many viewers find to be mesmerizing about the Boston quest?

Joe Buck said when he called his mother after one of the games, she talked about being unable to get over how passionate Red Sox fans are.

"I think it struck a chord with her," Buck said, ". . .seeing the looks on the faces of everybody from somebody who was 80 down to somebody who was 4. And the 4-year-old seemed like they have been watching this for 30 years."

Fox has added a human face to this postseason. Whether it has done so gratuitously is open for debate. Whether it has enhanced its fine coverage and helped make Boston's run the most memorable in recent memory, however, is not.

[Last modified October 22, 2004, 01:09:27]


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