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Fox And Its World Series TV Fiasco

The network that's paying billions for baseball had some technical issues during Game 1.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

If you were watching Game 1 of the World Series, you saw Fox-TV lose the feed from Kauffman Stadium just as the bottom of the fourth inning was about to start.

Before I get to some of the reaction to this mess, when I saw this, I immediately wondered: "Why don't they have an audio line as a backup?" We've heard this from time to time on Cubs broadcasts -- the feed goes out, and shortly afterward, we hear the broadcasters on a backup audio like that often sounds like a 1970s-era road radio broadcast, on an old-fashioned phone line.

Later it was revealed that failure of both a primary and backup generator in Fox's TV truck was to blame, and that we hadn't missed anything because:

Well. Technology giveth, and technology taketh away. Eventually both managers agreed to resume the game without replay capability until it could be restored, and I presume hoping there would be no Don Denkinger moments.

Having worked in TV for many years, I can sympathize with the technical issues and how frantic Fox people must have been to get things working. Here's a New York Daily News story on what Fox executives and technical folks went through to try and get back on the air.

While Fox's truck was out of commission, they switched to the international feed of the game (perhaps some of our international readers can let us know what countries this goes to), with MLB Network's graphics and Matt Vasgersian and John Smoltz on the call. And in case you were wondering:

The international feed, as I am sure you will agree, was far superior to Fox's broadcast in every way, from camera coverage to graphics to announcing. Here's a sampling of how it was received on Twitter while that was happening:

Even this morning, that continued:

This isn't anything new. Baseball fans have been complaining about the announcers covering MLB's signature events ever since Fox and Turner took over the postseason contracts, Fox longer ago than Turner. Personally, I can take or leave Joe Buck; he calls a competent game and his voice is inoffensive. But Harold Reynolds almost (note, I said almost) makes me wish Tim McCarver was back in the booth, and McCarver was the source of almost constant complaints until he finally left national broadcasting a couple of years ago.

When this many people (and there were literally thousands of similar tweets sent out Tuesday night) are upset with a TV network's choice of national announcers and would rather have the "backup" crew... something's very wrong. For me, Matt Vasgersian can be a little bit over-the-top in his announcing style, but I'd be fine with him doing the games. John Smoltz is probably the best of all the analysts any of the networks covering postseason games has. He'd be far better in the booth with Joe Buck. Buck and Smoltz -- now that would work for me. Tom Verducci is just superfluous, as is just about anyone who's the "third person" in a sports broadcast booth. Why networks think that more = better for announcing teams in national baseball TV coverage is beyond me.

One thing's for sure: Tuesday night's Game 1 in and of itself was a game for the ages even without the TV snafus (and I assume ratings, once available, will reflect that). From the first-inning inside-the-park home run to Eric Hosmer's error to Alex Gordon's homer to the 14-inning length, it's already one of the greatest World Series games ever played. Between that and Fox's problems, it's got a lot of people talking about baseball. And that can't be anything but a good thing.