Side tracked enough yet by gazing at TBS’ PitchTrax yet during the Dodgers’ playoff coverage?
Not that it’s a complete dis-Trax-ion.
You’d think most of us would be used to it by now. Yet, the more we see it, the more we tend to focus too much on it. Not in a good way.
Years of Dodgers and Angels coverage on Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket have avoided such a video-game type graphic, and we’re thankful. But other Fox regional networks use it on their local coverage.
TBS has used it for years now, refining it on its regular-season Sunday package of games that you’ve most likely checked out infrequently.
The pros: If accurate, it’s another decent tool to demonstrate things such as how a) Yasiel Puig really does swing at a lot of balls or b) an ump can change the zone to his liking no matter what the computer says, and the players seem to live with it as long as he’s consistent.
The cons: If you start relying on it as an exact science, you miss the point.
It’s daunting enough to try to figure out just what the rectangle box with red and green circled numbers means after a while. During some extended at bats, it looks like an overhead shot of a billiards table.
Where we found it somewhat compelling was in how it showed the way Dodgers starter Zack Greinke worked the zone during his outing in Game 1 of the NL Championship Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
The first time Greinke faced Cardinals No. 2 hitter Carlos Beltran, for example, was a three-pitch, all called strikes at bat.
The first two pitches nicked the outer edge of the strike zone box. The third, a backdoor slider, was a hair outside. But umpire Gerry Davis called Beltran out. Beltran stood at the plate a bit baffled, but walked away.
In the third inning, after Greinke set down eight in a row, he gave up a single to pitcher Joe Kelly. Then came a walk to Matt Carpenter.
Beltran came up again with Greinke suddenly on the ropes.
First pitch: Taken low, ball one.
Second pitch: Shows that it hits the bottom left of the batter’s box. Beltran takes it. Davis calls ball two.
Third pitch: Low and just outside the box. Beltran swings and misses. Strike one.
Fourth pitch: Way outside. Ball three.
Fifth pitch: Bottom right of the strike zone. Beltran swings, ropes a double off the center field wall to tie the game 2-2.
What did we learn from that exchange? Not quite sure. But maybe the fact Greinke got the border-line strike call the first time, but not the second time, was either just how the graphic was calibrated, or that Davis was adjusting his calls to how Greinke performed at the moment.
It’s left to our own confusing interpretation, really.
When the Dodgers start up their own network next season, will they resort to such employing it based on a producer’s philosophy on how to do a game that’s supposed to be more in tune with how younger viewers are used to watching?
Or is there already enough clutter on a TV screen, having more real estate to cover because of today’s wide-screen technology. It may be that we’ve finally been able to finally decipher that score/ball/strike/out/base runner dot-pattern on the top left corner as a baseball instrument rather than a bowling alley scratch pad.
Would a Dodger PitchTrax cause Vin Scully to adjust the way he describes a game on TV? It could. And if it did, would we all be better for it?
Keep watching, and see how it starts to skew your judgment, right or wrong. Then decide if it’s something you want in your wheelhouse.
== If you’re apt to believe that the Vegas wise guys have it figured out, the Dodgers will knock out the Cardinals in seven games, according to Bovada, which has set the odds of that prediction at the lowest, 7/2. A Dodgers win in six is next at 4/1.
A Cardinals win in six or seven is next at 5/1.
But then again, why even bother with that. The Dodgers are already dead even with Boston to win the World Series at 12/5, according to them as well. St. Louis is only a 3/1 choice.
A Dodgers-Red Sox match up, if you wanted to pick a matchup, is at 2/1, with Dodgers-Tigers at 5/2. Read between the lines – they’re saying the Dodgers’ chances are better than advancing than the Cardinals, since a pairing of the Cardinals/Red Sox (11/4) or Cardinals/Tigers (7/2) are higher odds.
== TBS reports that that viewership has been up six percent compared to last year for viewership of the division series games, even with two fewer Game 5s.
The five most-watched games, however, don’t involve the Dodgers, existing in the country’s No. 2 TV market.
Those would be:
1. Pittsburgh vs. St. Louis, NLDS Game 5 – 6.1 million total viewers
2. Detroit vs. Oakland, ALDS Game 5 – 5.5 million
3. Boston vs. Tampa Bay, ALDS Game 4 – 5.2 million
4. Tampa Bay vs. Cleveland, A.L. Wild Card Game – 4.7 million
5. Pittsburgh vs. Cincinnati, N.L. Wild Card Game – 4.6 million
Fact is, none of the Dodgers-Braves games cracked the TBS Top 10 most watched contests of the 18 previous live post-season games through the division series.
In L.A., the four game NLDS had ratings of 8.4, 6.9, 9.6 and 12.0.
== Lauren Miller of Washington D.C. seems to be the latest one willing to try to post a petition on Change.org in order to let those at Fox and TBS that some prefer to hear Vin Scully call the games instead of the hired network crews.
Since it was posted Oct. 7, however, only 25 have signed up. She seeks 100 responses. Then what?
Not much, really. They’ve been attempted in past years, and none of the networks have been tempted to bite.
Representatives at TBS have already admitted that getting Scully to be part of its NLCS coverage has been discussed but not likely. Fox has the World Series starting Oct. 23 and would likely only consider having Scully as a guest broadcaster on middle innings.