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Covering a World Series game is … different

Oct 25, 2012, 8:30 AM EDT


We covered the baseball action of last night’s game pretty thoroughly already, so now some of the less important stuff.

It was my first ever World Series game and I can’t say I’ve experienced anything like it. Not that it was better than any other baseball game of course — on the merits it wasn’t — but it was definitely a far more intense experience than other games I’ve attended and/or covered.

I’ve talked about the crowd already — amped from beginning until end — but the whole scene is like that, really. The media stuff affected me most directly. So many people cover the World Series. Almost as many as go to the Winter Meetings each year. Except at the Winter Meetings all of those reporters and broadcasters spread out around a gigantic hotel whereas here they are split into a couple of rooms and spaces that are a fraction of the size of the smallest Winter Meetings work space.

There’s a media workroom off a hallway running behind the luxury boxes. It’s not big, but it’s where the reporters who don’t get a spot in the regular press box (which is most of the reporters) set up to write and prepare and whatnot. By the middle of the afternoon there were no chairs left and people spread out onto the floor or stood up and typed at tables. As the game got going many of us moved to the auxiliary press box up in sections 335 and 336 out in left field where there are temporary desktops, WiFi and TV monitors, but many — maybe most — of the press stayed in the workroom.

And I can see why, actually. For one thing it’s warmer. For another, more important thing it may be easier to follow the game action via TV than it is from out there in East Jesus Upper Deck Land.  I perched up there because I wanted to hear the crowd and feel like I was watching a game more than I was covering it, but I bet my colleagues down in the workroom were more on top of what was happening as it happened than I was up in the clouds.  I had some advantages — you can tell more about defensive positioning and the like better from up top — but those are pretty minor things.

Another crowded place: the field during the couple of hours before game time. Camera crews, VIPs, ex-ballpalyers, P.R. people and just about anyone else you can think of, crammed on the track behind home plate and between the dugouts. I did a brief on-field segment for NBC Sports Talk last night — look for me again tonight between 6pm and 7pm Eastern — and it was a battle just to get over to the tiny bit of real estate where my camera crew was set up. I squeezed myself in there and did my little chitchat. A few minutes later my brother called me. He was watching it at home and said that as I was talking Willie Mays was behind me talking to someone else. I had no idea. It’s so crowded and crazy down there that you can miss WILLIE FREAKIN’ MAYS.

I know most of you don’t care about these media things, but the whole experience does have me thinking about game coverage and what it means in the age of 100 TV cameras and the super slo-mo replay. The ballpark is great, but as I walked back to my hotel last night I had this rather unsatisfying feeling that, despite the fact I was there, I missed a whole lot. That I really do see more things — and more things better — at home while watching on TV and following on the Internet than I do in person.

Maybe it’s so big a spectacle that it’s hard to get your bearings after just one game. Maybe it’s just a matter of someone like me having a different kind of focus than other people who are covering the thing. I’m not sure. But just like the Tigers, I’m glad I have more games this series to figure it all out.

  1. ndnut - Oct 25, 2012 at 8:45 AM

    I personally love hearing about your media life. I always thought I would enjoy sports broadcasting on any medium but as I have reached high school I have found economics to sound fun. You are reminding that I could still go that route as well as telling us all the advantages and disadvantages of being part of the media. Well done! Have fun!

    • heyblueyoustink - Oct 25, 2012 at 8:59 AM

      You forgot to “XOXO” at the end of that.

      • kiwicricket - Oct 25, 2012 at 9:01 AM

        I thought Mookie or Carlo did a good job writing that.

      • indaburg - Oct 25, 2012 at 9:06 AM

        That’s pretty insulting to Mookie and Carlo, kiwi.

      • Alex K - Oct 25, 2012 at 9:22 AM

        Did you just comment boo a high school student. Typical Phillies Phan. 😀

      • heyblueyoustink - Oct 25, 2012 at 9:59 AM

        I know I know, I’m just trying to prep him for the real world after he finishes his education, where ideology and philosophy meets boots to asses for lack of production. (assuming of course, by the time he’s out of school, there’s a real world left.)

    • sportsdrenched - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:30 PM

      Ya’ll lay off the high school kid. It’s not like we ever went through that age or anything.

      I will say this though. If you’re looking for stability…I’d go with economics. If you’re not looking for stability…go with media.

  2. stex52 - Oct 25, 2012 at 8:48 AM

    Game one. Solid evidence for why I never predict baseball outcomes. Possibly the best pitcher in the Majors pounded by an average offense. Sandoval does a Babe Ruth impression. Zito, a laughing stock since he signed the big contract, gets the job done when most people were hoping he could just keep it close.

    It’s a fool’s errand to guess. Just enjoy it.

    • kopy - Oct 25, 2012 at 9:35 AM

      Great pitchers on both sides! Only the 2nd time 3 Cy Young winners have appeared in the same World Series game.

    • schlom - Oct 25, 2012 at 1:20 PM

      The Giants don’t have an average offense, they probably had the best offense in baseball this season it was just hard to see as they played half their games in an extreme pitchers park.

      • stex52 - Oct 25, 2012 at 9:59 PM

        After checking the 2012 stats, I will amend to “somewhat above average.” But surely not one of the best. And remember, a lot of those stats were compiled with Melky in the lineup.

  3. andrewproughcfe - Oct 25, 2012 at 8:55 AM

    Reminds me of my first live Steelers game. I had just been to training camp a few weeks earlier, and Mean Joe Green, Jack Lambert, Franco Harris and crew had walked within a foot of me, carrying their helmets onto the practice field. I stood 5 feet from Bradshaw and took his picture while he threw warmup passes with backup qb Mike Kruszeck. Now, I was at a game in the top bowl of Three Rivers Stadium, having to use binoculars to see the field. The freezing rain was swirling around the bowl, and I was missing my warm home and television.

  4. Old Gator - Oct 25, 2012 at 9:05 AM

    Sneak your flask of bourbon into tonight’s game, Craig. After three innings or so, it won’t seem so different anymore.


  5. crispybasil - Oct 25, 2012 at 9:16 AM

    What I want to know is: who’s the sports reporter that takes up two or three workstations by spreading everything out and who then makes a scene when someone asks him to consolidate?

    • kiwicricket - Oct 25, 2012 at 9:19 AM

      Excellent question. Work space etiquette and who’s sporting abnormal fashion sense are the real questions.

    • sportsinhd - Oct 25, 2012 at 11:58 AM

      Probably Mike Lupica? Maybe Mitch Albom or Rick Reilly?

  6. kiwicricket - Oct 25, 2012 at 9:17 AM

    Is it awkward running into media guys you tend to make fun of?

    • stlouis1baseball - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:40 PM

      Now that is a good question Kiwi.
      My guess…when he runs into them there isn’t a great deal of communication between the two.

  7. loungefly74 - Oct 25, 2012 at 9:18 AM

    thanks for the vivid imagery. i attended a game there the first season. just an amazing place. though, i had the luxury to just relax n’ chill watching the game…

  8. indaburg - Oct 25, 2012 at 9:22 AM

    Of course, I have never been at a game as a journalist, but what you wrote can be extrapolated to the fan experience at home versus the fan experience at the stadium. Home is way more comfortable. I can do my own super slo-mo on any play I want using the DVR. Lots more room. Leather seats. Not having to deal with drunken idiots at the game. Access to all the baseball reference and information I want. Cheap drinks and food.

    You do miss a lot when you’re at the stadium (especially in nose bleed seats like Craig’s in), but what you get, as a fan, are “intangibles.” That electric feeling. The communal experience. High fiving strangers. Hell, hugging perfect strangers. As a journalist, I have no idea what you would get from sitting in the stratosphere.

    Some people are just not fans of the communal experience, and that’s ok.

  9. psuravens19 - Oct 25, 2012 at 9:35 AM

    I get what you are saying about seeing more while watching games on TV, but for me, nothing beats actually being at a game, whether its MLB or NFL. I personally love being in that atmosphere, seeing the action live, feeling the crowd, etc.

    I’ve been to many O’s game over the years and had a chance to attend game 2 of the ALDS and that crowd was rocking, so I couldn’t imagine being at a WS game. Now that the O’s gave us fans a little taste of playoff baseball, I just hope they can maintain it.

    • natslady - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:09 PM

      Have to agree. Went to all three Nats NLDS games. The first game (Wednesday) some people did leave. But the other two, WOW (as Verlander would say). On Thursday the crowd was into EVERY pitch!! When Werth hit the homerun in the bottom of the ninth, unreal. Friday was unbearable, but you were unbearing it with 45,000 other people who felt the same punch in the gut (and with 127 Cards fans who were polite).

      I’d never been to a postseason game before, I mean, they introduced the team assistant trainers! There were cameras everywhere. I can’t imagine the pre-game ceremonies at a WS game. Hope I get to see one….

      • indaburg - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:36 PM

        It is crazy, Natslady. I was fortunate enough to attend Games 1 & 2 at the Trop for the Phiilies-Rays series in ’08. The pomp & circumstance was so over the top. They even had some contraption shooting flames which didn’t seem too smart in an enclosed stadium. It kind of reminded me of Rocky’s ridiculous training/circus room in the third installment (“this is a zoo!). My resting pulse rate was 120 beats per minute–yes, I took it because it felt like my heart was going to jump right out of my chest, I was so nervous and excited. Was it fun? Oh my, yes. I wish all good fans get to experience that feeling someday.

  10. libertynchurch - Oct 25, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    As they say in Real Estate, its all about Location. I had the privilege in watching a 1981 ALCS at Yankee Stadium from a a box seat belonging to M Donald Grant, then owner of the Mets. What a difference! Its one thing to watch the ball against the graphics on TV, and to actually see it up close. Watching a Goose Gossage fastball up close defintely changed my appreciation of how difficult it is to hit major league pitching. Cerones mitt was giving a mini fireworks concert. To be able to see the players up close, and guage their stature against my own. Dave Winfield is a big boy, Pinella barrel-chested and shorter than I expected. Being close also reminded me that the game of has its dangers, and it truly is a Hardball. Being in prime foul ball territory forces you to watch the game at a very focused level. I found myself watching the ball out of the pitchers hand and into the batters box, because you could get beaned on each and every swing. Listening to the chatter.. I could go on and on. Bottom line, see if you can get one of those seats, and tell us about it!

  11. allforfunnplay - Oct 25, 2012 at 10:10 AM

    For the most part there are no bad seats at AT&T Park. I’ve never been to a World Series game but I have been to dozens of regular season Giants games at AT&T Park (including Cain’s perfect game this year). I’ve had seats in the lower deck but these days mostly sit in the upper right and left field decks. Other than in game analysis you don’t really miss anything. Stats are up on the scoreboard. I guess if you really want to track the ball over the plate, you don’t get that like you do from a TV camera. Maybe you weren’t able to enjoy your experience because you’re part of the media and were overwhelmed?

    • psuravens19 - Oct 25, 2012 at 10:39 AM

      AT&T Park is one I definitely want to see in person…

      • ccmf69 - Oct 25, 2012 at 1:01 PM

        It’s awesome. The first time I went there, I had nose-bleed seats like Craig. Bonds’ homer still went out of the park:)…I can see the stadium lights from my front balcony, so we always see after game fireworks. After Candlestick, the pits of hell would be a big improvement…lol…Funny…when it was raining during the Cardinals game the other night, it was dry at my place, and I’m probably less than 6 miles from the park…

  12. cur68 - Oct 25, 2012 at 11:03 AM

    You at the WS seems to mean but one thing, Craig: no WS HBT chat during the game. Last season, that was the best. It was like being at the game with dozens of different fans & all of us watching and commenting together. We saw more & had a great time “talking”. I’m sure it was a lot of work for the bloggers, but it was one thing I was looking forward too this season. Fortunately for me I have my FL buddies and our League site has a free chat function. Most of us were there and had a blast (and a great drinking game). I dare say you’d have had a better time if you’d joined US rather than actually been to the game. Still, SF in the fall and Willie Freakin’ Mays is pretty good, too. Cheers.

  13. ibleedroyalblue - Oct 25, 2012 at 11:23 AM

    I enjoy reading your reports! Keep’em comin’!

  14. Charles Gates - Oct 25, 2012 at 11:29 AM

    Given the hoopla surrounding the media itinerary, surroundings and interactions, I wonder how much MSM allows that to influence how they frame their narrative based pieces because, you know, if a journalist is blown away by the craziness, then obviously a player that whiffed in the late innings must have been too.

  15. 1908wasnextyear - Oct 25, 2012 at 11:29 AM

    Inside window of life as a baseball writer is cool. Thanks. Most of us read this site exactly because of posts like this.
    Also…I know the feeling of having “missed something” when you see the game in person–the pitcher/batter duel loses its vividness when you can’t see the break or location of the pitch. But of course, what you miss more than outweighed by the rest of the experience.

  16. stlouis1baseball - Oct 25, 2012 at 11:47 AM

    “The ballpark is great, but as I walked back to my hotel last night I had this rather unsatisfying feeling that, despite the fact I was there, I missed a whole lot.”

    I have no doubt you felt this way Csquared. It’s sensory overload.
    Sorta’ like when I walk into a Casino for the 1st time. I have no idea where to go.
    Flashing lights, incredibly loud noises, people everywhere. I instantly become Monked out.

    For what it’s worth…I dig the reports. Keep em’ coming.
    Even if I do think you absolutely suck for being able to attend AND get paid for it.

  17. Chris Fiorentino - Oct 25, 2012 at 12:33 PM

    “It was my first ever World Series game”

    Wow. I am amazed that you have never been to a World Series game. I am just curious as to why? Was it a choice or did things just never work out because of convenience? I mean… I have been to 5 Phillies World Series games(1993, 2008 & 2009) but admittedly, I walked to all 5 games since my mom lives 4 blocks from the sports complex.

  18. kappy32 - Oct 25, 2012 at 1:49 PM

    Pretty awesome write-up Craig. You got the whole idea of why they call the World Series one of the world’s largest spectacles. Myself, I’m a Mets fan. My grandfather was a lifelong season ticket holder & he took me, as a baby, and my father to games 6 & 7 of the 1986 World Series. Being that I was 3 years old, I don’t remember anything of it & the only memories I have of the game are the highlights we see on TV & a couple Polaroids someone took of the 3 of us. Since then, I’ve been to hundreds of baseball games in dozens of cities throughout the country. I have been to playoff games, but not yet another World Series game. As a Mets fan, I haven’t had many opportunities, aside from 2000. However, I did have tickets to games 3 & 5 of the 2006 World Series from a presale, lottery; I had those tickets until Yadier “Bleeping” Molina struck against Aaron Heilmann & sent the Mets home. One day, hopefully before I’m an old ass man, the Mets will win something & allow me to share the experience with them.

  19. hojo20 - Oct 25, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    Nice job Craig! Keep these posts coming.

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