Perhaps it’s just me, but I feel like there was something artful about the way Fox’s broadcast captured Koji Uehara‘s game-ending pickoff of Kolten Wong last night. Unwittingly artful, maybe, but still artful.
Turn up the volume loud enough and you can hear the woman with the Angry Birds hat yelling “Come on, Beltran!” She has no reason to believe this game would be over within a fraction of a second. Neither did Kolten Wong, neither did Koji Uehara, neither did Carlos Beltran and neither did anybody in the Fox production truck.
And so the first action we see, after the woman with the hat, is Mike Napoli holding up his glove and first base umpire Bill Miller holding up his fist. Napoli runs off the field, Wong slams his helmet. As little as I generally care for Joe Buck, his call could hardly have been better: “They check the runner and they pick him off!” Tim McCarver comes in with just an “oh, boy,” which is really the ultimate sentiment of the moment.
There will be some focus, I think, on Fox missing the actual game action. We didn’t see Uehara start his pickoff move, we didn’t see the throw. We barely saw the tag.
I don’t know much about broadcasting, but I assume missing each of those events is a violation of the broadcasting code of best practices (or something). I also couldn’t care less. The moment was still captured perfectly, because this is how the moment was meant to be interpreted. This was so improbable, so outside the scope of imaginable outcomes that it only seems right to catch everybody — literally — off guard.
Uehara hadn’t thrown a pickoff in weeks. He had picked off two runners in his entire major league career. His pitching coach thought he threw over to first 10 times all season. Uehara himself said the purpose of the entire throw was to reset his rhythm on the mound. Not only was this not a thing we should have expected to see, it’s hardly even a thing that was meant to be seen. It was so minute and so meaningless Fox’s truck reasonably opted for the tension-capturing crowd shot.
And then Kolten Wong leaned a bit towards second base.
Baseball broadcasts are hardly art. But when framed correctly, a baseball broadcast can capture a moment. Sure, Fox’s broadcast didn’t capture the precise visual of Koji Uehara picking off Kolten Wong to end Game 4 yesterday, but it captured the spirit of it perfectly.