Science Of Pitching Dominates World Series On Fox Sports

Broadcasting abhors dead air, but that doesn’t mean TV sportscasters need to talk without a pause for entire baseball games.

This is what is happening in the Fox Sports coverage of the World Series. Not content to let the pictures tell the story at least a little bit, Fox’s broadcast team -- Joe Davis on the play-by-play and John Smoltz on color -- talk and talk and talk.

I wondered the other day if they are endangering their voices. You half expect them to be hoarse by the game’s end.

Of the two of them, Smoltz’s voice is more conspicuous. Now 55, Smoltz was one of the most storied pitchers to ever play the game -- 22 seasons in the majors (21 of them with the Braves), multiple wins in playoff games, a Cy Young Award, Hall Of Fame inductee, holder of various records etc.



He is unquestionably an expert on pitching and worthy of respect in the area of the pitching arts and sciences. He is also a veteran baseball broadcaster too.

Baseball fans who love hearing about the science of pitching must be in pitching heaven while watching the World Series on Fox since Smoltz talks about little else.

Every single pitch is described in minute detail from conception in the brains of the pitcher and catcher, through the execution to the completion.

The minutiae include: How the pitcher and catcher choose a pitch, why they chose a particular pitch, what the pitcher’s strengths and weaknesses are, how do all the hitters hit off of him, what pitches do they like to hit, what pitches will a hitter have a problem with, what is the pitcher’s favorite location for his pitches -- high, low, outside or inside? 

What is the pitcher’s history? Where was he born? What are the characteristics of his wind-up, his stance, his hands, his glove? Who was his roommate in college, in the minors, in his rookie year? And on and on it goes.

No matter what the sport, information about the players is part of the show. But there is something over the top in the Fox presentation of the World Series this year.

This year’s Fall Classic between the Philadelphia Phillies and Houston Astros started with two games in Houston on Friday and Saturday. The Series came back to Philadelphia on Monday to start the week. Fox is the prime-time home of the Series.

Baseball fans can debate the near-constant analysis of pitching science that accompanies every pitch in these games. Perhaps some appreciate it, while others are inserting their index fingers into both ears.

But more generally, the non-stop talk -- on the subject of pitching or otherwise -- can stand in the way of just enjoying the game from the vantage point of home.

The fact is, there really is no “dead air” at an event such as a baseball game. Ambient sound is all around -- the constant hum of a sellout crowd, the popping sound of baseballs smacking into mitts, the cheers for home runs, stolen bases and spectacular defensive plays; the boos and catcalls when the fans in the stands think the ump blew a call.

The best broadcasters know when to let the event tell the story. They take pauses between pitches, or use short punchy phrases to describe some of the action. 

“This is television,” an old-timer schooled me long ago. “You have to give them vision.”

Obviously, sports broadcasts require words, and lots of them. But sometimes, every picture tells a story too.

1 comment about "Science Of Pitching Dominates World Series On Fox Sports".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, November 1, 2022 at 4:11 p.m.

    Thanks largely to Bob Costas and Joe Buck, I prefer to watch ALL sports with volume muted. I miss the ambient crowd noise though. Maybe the producers could have another separate audio feed somehow with no annoying commentary. Or some company could create a phone app to substitute for TV announcers. 

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