Foul balls deserve better coverage

TV cameras miss the boat by not following them into the stands

July 12, 2012 

An open letter to the producers of televised Major League Baseball games:

Why don't you put a camera on every foul ball that goes into the stands? Why don't you follow foul balls all the way to their happy new owner? What's wrong with showing a happy fan jumping up and down with glee, holding up the ball for all to see? And the reaction of nearby fans?

Who got it? Was it one of those guys who bring a glove to the game? Did someone catch it barehanded? Did it ricochet off a cement step and present itself softly to a fan in the next section? Why can't we see this?

Instead, the very nano-second the ball disappears into a squirming mass of humanity, the camera often switches to the batter adjusting his batting gloves.

Or the pitcher rubbing his face.

Or a manager spitting sunflower shells onto the dugout floor.

Who got the foul ball?

Which fan will remember this event the rest of his or her life? I still remember the day I got a foul ball of the bat of Miguel Cabrera.

Have you noticed how many foul balls there are in an Major League Baseball game? Dozens.

Sometimes a camera has forsaken a foul ball and the focus is back on the pitcher rubbing his crotch, and you hear a roar from the crowd.

That foul ball.

What happened?

Who got it?

Did someone make a nice catch?

Did someone get hit on top of the head?

But no, we get to watch the batter re-adjusting his gloves again.

Who got it? Isn't that where the camera should be? Where the action is? I mean, follow the bouncing ball, you know?

In addition to focusing on the lucky fan, you will be giving many nearby fans their 15 seconds national TV. What's wrong with that? Maybe their friends and relatives watching at home will see them. They know Charlie and SuAnn are at the game.

"Hey! There's Charlie and SuAnn!"

"Hey, it is."

What if Charlie had caught the ball?

Hah! What if SuAnn had? Charlie would have to live with this, wouldn't he?

And of course the game is being taped and they can run Charlie and SuAnn back and forth all night long, and when Charlie and SuAnn get home, they can watch it all night long too. What's wrong with that?

Might this not be good for attendance? Wouldn't some people say: Let's go out to the stadium and sit where we might get a foul ball and be on national TV? A foul ball only has to come near you and you've made it. And you are taping the game at home. You can go home and look for yourself. What's wrong with that?

How is this for a fantasy?

Is there an announcer bold and creative enough to call foul balls going into the stands? That could be fun. Baseball should be fun.

"There it goes heading for section 14 behind first base, it's a high, major league foul, I see gloves underneath ... ohh ... that kid in the Mets shirt missed it and it bounced off a seat ... there it goes into section 13 ... oh ... that little girl in the yellow dress has it ... look at that smile."

And you'd still have time to switch back to the batter adjusting his gloves again.

Ron Rau is a writer and retired fisherman who lives in Sitka. His humorous and sometimes ribald baseball memoir, "History of the One-Fingered Fastball," can be ordered from Box 703, Sitka AK 99835.

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