Just about seven minutes elapsed in the top of the seventh inning during the third game of the World Series on Friday night at Dodger Stadium.
But the dramatic combination of Fox’s camera work, analysis, replays, graphics, split screens and overhead shots, punctuated by Joe Buck’s calls, milked every second and, more importantly, framed what was about as buttoned-up a live TV moment as one could want in a championship-caliber game.
Walker Buehler’s last three outs on the mound for the Dodgers facing Boston’s Xander Bogaerts, Mitch Moreland and J.D Martinez weren’t just succinctly laid out by Buck and John Smoltz going pitch-by-pitch to guide the viewer along.
Unusual tosses to both reporters Tom Verducci and Ken Rosenthal for context made sure we were witnessing something against the grain from much of the Dodgers’ typical analytic game plan.
“He’s doing a great job of controlling his breathing and not getting caught up when the crowd gets up at home,” Smoltz said of Buehler. “You want to make the crowd go into a frenzy with the next pitch. He’s not bought into that yet.”
“Dave Roberts is managing with his eyes and his feel — he sees what we see, a dominant right-hander,” Buck was saying in mid-sentence as Buehler went into his windup and finished off Martinez with a swing and a miss for strike three to end the inning, preserving the Dodgers’ then 1-0 lead. Buck and Smoltz then said nothing, allowing the shots to follow and go into a commercial.
The moment continued after the break with several replays, finalized by Buehler’s last strikeout pitch, shot from down the first-base line, and capturing Dodgers Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax in the background, clapping and standing up after the out was recorded.
“If he’s impressed,” Buck said, “the rest of us should be impressed.”
MANNY BEING MANNY
If Dodgers fans were perturbed by the lack of hustle shown by Manny Machado on a sixth-inning single on a ball he hit off the left-field wall, Buck backed it up.
Smoltz noted that a camera shot of Machado standing at first “tells it all” about the disappointment he has in himself. But then Buck added as if he decided it needed more commentary: “But if you’re ever going to run out of the box, isn’t it the World Series Game 3, down two games to nothing, a one-run game, two outs? You talked earlier about Justin Turner and a time to push it with two outs. Machado did anything but.”
If more is needed to further flesh out the Buck-is-against-us narrative that seems to follow Fox’s A-1 broadcaster on all major events — including the ridiculous request by his bosses to call Thursday’s NFL game in Houston between World Series Games 2 and 3 — Buck responded via text late Wednesday night to clarify where he is coming from.
“(All written about me this time of year is) annoying and the suggestion that I am ‘rooting’ for the other side gets so maddening. For my sanity I can’t read it. Vin (Scully) got it. My dad (the late Jack Buck) got it. It’s when the hometown guys leave and we (national team) show up it’s an unaligned broadcast. That’s what gets people mad. The local guys get rings when the team wins and broadcast accordingly. I’ve been there. I have rings too. That’s not my job.”
DO’S AND DON’TS
Do explain to those vocabularic purists that even if it seemed Smoltz misused the word “irregardless” in describing a Justin Turner third-inning double, it has regrettably become acceptably interchangeable with “regardless,” regardless if we choose to believe it …