Young: On baseball broadcasts and the difference in narratives

From SABR member Geoff Young at Baseball Prospectus on September 4, 2012:

In movies, we are told a story. The writer creates and the actors portray; these are obvious. Others whose choices influence what we see and think are the director and editor.

Similarly, when we watch a baseball game on television, we are influenced by the decisions and biases of the people producing the broadcast. What do they think we should see? What is important to them? This includes camera angles, cuts to players or coaches, in-booth interviews, the display of particular statistics on screen (which stats, how often, where on screen?), and much more.

The game is a live event, not scripted, but skilled people know what to look for and can tell a story in real-time via quick, decisive action.

Stepping back again, we ask different questions. Who is the audience? Who is the perceived audience? Who are the advertisers that wish to sell items to the perceived audience? What tale do the advertisers wish to tell, and how much influence do they wield over the people presenting the story (the game) to potential purchasers of said items?


As an exercise, I watched the Yankees play at the White Sox on Tuesday, August 21, 2012. I watched once from each team’s video feed, first with sound off (so I could make my own observations) and then with sound on (so I could hear what professionals wished me to observe). … The original intent was to do this for the entire game, but having accumulated six pages of barely legible notes after the first two viewings of the first inning, I narrowed the focus to that inning.

I also thought it might be instructive to track how often camera cuts occur, how long each is held, how often scores and other information are displayed on screen. You know, actual metrics. But I ditched this idea because, frankly, it seemed boring.

Even with such a limited focus, the number of narratives was impressive. I picked three:

  • Derek Jeter‘s leadoff home run off Francisco Liriano
  • White Sox pitching coach Don Cooper‘s visit to the mound to talk with Liriano
  • Kevin Youkilis‘ attempt to advance to second base on a wild pitch by Ivan Nova

Read the full article here:

Originally published: September 4, 2012. Last Updated: September 4, 2012.