Fox Major League Baseball
Fox Major League Baseball (shortened to Fox MLB and also known as Major League Baseball on Fox, MLB on Fox, or MLB on FS1) is a presentation of Major League Baseball (MLB) games produced by Fox Sports, the sports division of the Fox Broadcasting Company (Fox), since June 1, 1996. The broadcaster has aired the World Series in 1996, 1998 and every edition since 2000, and the All-Star Game in 1997, 1999, and every year since 2001. It has also aired the National League Championship Series and American League Championship Series on alternate years from 1996 to 2000, both from 2001 to 2006, and again on alternate years since 2007, with the NLCS on even years and the ALCS on odd years. Under its current contract with the league, Fox Sports will continue to carry MLB telecasts through at least the 2021 season, with national broadcasts on Fox and cable sports network Fox Sports 1.
|Fox Major League Baseball|
Fox Major League Baseball logo used since May 21, 2016
|Also known as||MLB on Fox|
Fox Saturday Baseball
(Afternoon game telecasts)
Baseball Night in America
(Night game telecasts)
|Presented by||Joe Buck|
|Theme music composer||NJJ Music (1996–2010)|
Jochen Flach (2007–2010)
Scott Schreer (2010–present)
|Opening theme||"MLB on Fox theme music" (1996–2010)|
"Fox Sports theme music" (2010–present)
|Composer(s)||NJJ Music (1996–2010)|
Jochen Flach (2007–2010)
Scott Schreer (2010–present)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||18|
|No. of episodes||1,730+|
|Producer(s)||Lindz Rae (lead games)|
|Production location(s)||Various MLB stadiums (game telecasts)|
Fox Network Center, Los Angeles, California (studio segments, pregame and postgame shows)
|Editor(s)||Bill Webb (lead games)|
|Running time||3+ hours (or until game ends)|
|Production company(s)||Fox Sports|
|Original network||Fox (1996–present)|
Fox Sports Networks (1996–present)
FX (1997–2001, 2009)
Fox Family (2000–2001)
|Picture format||480i (SDTV),|
|Original release||June 1, 1996– present|
On November 7, 1995, Major League Baseball reached a television deal with Fox and NBC, allowing the former to obtain MLB game rights (assuming ABC's end of the contract). Fox paid $575 million for the five-year contract, a fraction less of the amount of money that CBS had paid for the Major League Baseball television rights for the 1990–1993 seasons.
Unlike the previous television deal, "The Baseball Network" (a partnership created through the league's joint contract with ABC and NBC that began in the 1994 season), Fox reverted to the format of televising regular season games (approximately 16 weekly telecasts that normally began on Memorial Day weekend) on Saturday afternoons. Fox did, however, continue a format that The Baseball Network started by offering a selection of games based purely on a viewer's region. Fox's approach has usually been to offer three regionalized telecasts. The initial deal also gave Fox the rights to broadcast the 1996, 1998 and 2000 World Series, the 1997 and 1999 All-Star Games, as well as coverage of the League Championship Series (shared with NBC) and five Division Series games each year.
When Fox first began carrying baseball, it used the motto "Same game, new attitude." to promote the telecasts, which had previously been used to promote the network's National Football League coverage when it began in 1994. Fox's primary goal when it first began airing Major League Baseball games was to promote their weak prime time schedule (which at the time included only a handful of hits, such as established series Beverly Hills 90210, The Simpsons and Married... with Children). Fox Sports president Ed Goren said, "We'll use the World Series and League Championship Series to spur our shows". Like its predecessor NBC, Fox determined its Saturday schedule by which MLB franchise was playing a team from one of the three largest television markets – New York City, Los Angeles or Chicago. If there was a game which featured teams from two of these three markets (involving any combination of the Yankees, Mets, Dodgers, Angels, Cubs or White Sox), that game would be aired on the network.
In September 2000, Major League Baseball reached a six-year, $2.5 billion contract with Fox that allowed it to retain rights to Saturday baseball games, and included rights to the All-Star Game, select Division Series games and exclusive coverage of the League Championship Series and World Series. 90% of the contract's value to Fox, which paid Major League Baseball $417 million per year under the deal, came from the postseason, which not only attracted large audiences, but also provided an opportunity for the network to showcase its fall schedule.
The contract protected Major League Baseball in the event of a labor dispute (something that did not occur with "The Baseball Network" in 1994). If some of the games were cancelled as a result of a strike or lockout, Major League Baseball would still be paid by the network, but had to compensate Fox with additional telecasts. On the other hand, a repeat of the 1994 league strike would have cost Fox well over $1 billion; the television contract created an incentive not to cause a strike, as it would hurt broadcast networks since they paid for the deal, unlike the 1994–95 television package.
Under the previous five-year contract, Fox paid $575 million (totaling $115 million per year) for the Major League Baseball rights, while NBC only paid $400 million ($80 million annually). The difference between the Fox and the NBC contracts was that the deal implicitly valued Fox's Saturday "Game of the Week" telecasts at less than $90 million for five years. Before NBC officially decided to part ways with Major League Baseball (for the second time in about 12 years) on September 26, 2000, Fox would have had to pay $345 million for the contract, while NBC would have paid $240 million. With the exception of the three-year absence from 1990 to 1993, NBC had carried Major League Baseball broadcasts since 1947. NBC Sports president Ken Schanzer stated regarding its decision not to renew its contract, "We have notified Major League Baseball that we have passed on their offer and we wish them well going forward."
Under the new deal, Fox would now pay an average of $417 million a year, an approximately 45% increase from the previous deal (which was worth $290 million per year) that Fox, NBC and ESPN contributed together. CBS and ABC reportedly were not interested in buying the rights at the prices being offered by Major League Baseball.
When asked about the new deal with Fox, Commissioner Bud Selig said, "We at Major League Baseball could not be happier with the result. They have been a good partner and an innovative producer of our games."
Neal Pilson, who served as the president of CBS Sports when the network had the exclusive television rights for Major League Baseball said of Fox's $2.5 billion deal:
|“||It is a lot of baseball. It will force Fox to delay the start of its entertainment season every fall in order to cover the playoffs and the World Series, but I am sure they have taken that into account. Fox probably believes it has driven a good deal financially. It has kept its cost escalation at a very modest number. I'm sure Fox believes if it is the only national carrier, it can sell its commercial (slots) without having to face underpricing from a competitor.||”|
Some observers believed that gaining the relative ratings boost from the League Championship Series and World Series meant more to Fox than the other broadcast networks. This was because Fox had suffered the biggest prime time ratings decline among the four major networks during the 1999–2000 television season, with an average prime time audience of 8.97 million viewers, down 17% from the year before according to Nielsen Media Research.
On July 11, 2006, Major League Baseball announced that the Fox network had signed a new seven-year contract, which guaranteed that Fox would remain the broadcaster of the World Series through the 2013 season. Fox had widely been expected to renew the deal, but it was unclear what the network would be willing to air beyond the All-Star Game and World Series.
The package was officially announced on October 17, 2006. Under the terms of the arrangement, Fox retained its rights to the network's regular-season package, which would now begin in April, and would remain the exclusive home of the All-Star Game and World Series. Fox's postseason coverage beyond the World Series is limited to one League Championship Series per year (the American League Championship Series in odd numbered years and National League Championship Series in even numbered years), which alternates every year with TBS (which took over exclusive rights to the Division Series from ESPN) airing the other LCS.
One of the terms of the deal was that, beginning with the 2007 season, the Saturday "Game of the Week" coverage was extended over the entire season rather than starting after Memorial Day, with most games being aired in the 3:30 to 7:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) time slot, which was reduced to 4:00 to 7:00 after Fox cancelled its in-studio pre-game program for the 2009 season. Exceptions were added in 2010 with a 3:00 to 7:00 afternoon window being used on Saturdays when Fox was scheduled to broadcast a NASCAR Cup Series race in prime time (which would start at 7:30) and a 7:00 to 10:00 window, when Fox is scheduled to broadcast the UEFA Champions League soccer final (which would start at 3:00).
For 2012, Fox revised its schedule; while the 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time start time remained intact, weekly games on certain Saturdays when the network was to air NASCAR races held at Texas Motor Speedway, Richmond International Raceway and Darlington Raceway start at 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time. Starting with the date of the UEFA Champions League Final until the Saturday before the All-Star Break, all "Game of the Week" telecasts would start at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The Baseball Night in America moniker was used for all MLB on Fox games in that span.
On September 19, 2012, Sports Business Daily reported that Major League Baseball would agree to separate eight-year television deals with Fox Sports and Turner Sports through the 2021 season. Fox would reportedly pay around $4 billion over eight years (close to $500 million per year), while Turner would pay around $2.8 billion over eight years (more than $300 million per year). Under the new deals, Fox and TBS' coverage would essentially be the same as in the 2007–2013 contract with the exception of Fox and TBS splitting coverage of the Division Series, which TBS has broadcast exclusively dating back to 2007. More importantly, Fox would carry some of the games (such as the Saturday afternoon Game of the Week) on its new general sports channel, Fox Sports 1, which launched on August 17, 2013. Sources also said it was possible that Fox would sell some League Division Series games to MLB Network.
On October 2, 2012, the new deal between Major League Baseball and Fox was officially confirmed; it included the television rights to 12 Saturday afternoon games on Fox (reduced from 26), 40 games on Fox Sports 1 (with Fox Sports 2 airing certain ones as an overflow feed in case of overlapping telecasts), rights to the All-Star Game, two League Division Series (two games were sold to MLB Network, the rest would air on Fox Sports 1), one League Championship Series (in which Fox Sports and Turner Sports would each respectively alternate coverage of American League and National League postseason games each year on an odd-even basis, with Games 1 and, if necessary, 6 in 2014 airing on Fox ), and the World Series (which would remain on Fox). In addition, all Fox Saturday Baseball games would be made available on MLB Extra Innings and MLB.TV (subject to local blackout restrictions), Fox Sports was awarded TV Everywhere rights for streaming of game telecasts on computers, mobile and tablet devices, rights to a nightly baseball highlights show, Spanish language rights to all games carried on Fox and Fox Cable (Fox Deportes) and rights to a weekly show produced by MLB Productions.
On November 15, 2018, Fox renewed its rights through 2028, maintaining its existing structure but with expanded digital rights, and a promise to begin airing more games on the Fox broadcast network (beginning with at least two League Championship Series games and any game 7 in 2019, and additional games in 2022).
Fox Saturday BaseballEdit
Fox has used numerous scheduling formulas for its Saturday regular season coverage. These have often changed based on the rights granted by new television contracts, and the pregame programs that the network has chosen to air. From 1996 to 2006, Fox began its weekly game telecasts on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend or the weekend before. The selection of games varied on a regional basis, and the start times were staggered based on region. A half-hour pregame show aired at 12:30 p.m. Eastern Time, followed by game broadcasts held at 1:00 p.m. in the Eastern and Central Time Zones. West Coast games did not air until 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time (1:00 p.m. in the Pacific Time Zone). All of these games were exclusive to the broadcast network, and as a result, Fox's exclusivity window lasted through the entire afternoon.
In 2007, Fox began airing games every Saturday during the season. A new scheduling format was devised, in which all of the regional games started simultaneously. Fox moved the pregame, which became part of the exclusive game window, to 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time. All of the Fox games would then start at 3:55 p.m. Eastern Time, regardless of region. This format gave more leeway for teams not being shown on Fox to schedule daytime games. Fox's exclusivity began at the start of the pregame at 3:30 and ran until 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
Fox discontinued its pregame show in 2009, with the telecasts now beginning at 4:00 p.m. Eastern and the game time being pushed to 4:10. Fox gave up the first half-hour of its exclusivity, with its window now beginning at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time. This scheduling formula was used through 2011 for the regular season. Beginning in 2010, several of the Saturday games aired in prime time during the spring. These telecasts used an exclusivity window from 7:00 to 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time, as the network revived a pregame show for these games, airing at 7:00 p.m. with the game at 7:15.
In 2012, the pregame show returned full-time, prompting another change in scheduling. The normal scheduling in 2012 and 2013 was for the pregame airing at either 12:30 or 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time. The pregame would not be a part of Fox's exclusive window, which began with the game telecast starting a half-hour later. The scheduling did not change for the spring prime time games, however, as the scheduling for these games remained the same as in 2010 and 2011.
For the 2014 season, sister cable channel Fox Sports 1 began providing Major League Baseball game coverage, carrying a Fox Saturday Baseball doubleheader on most weeks. FS1's coverage begins with the pregame show a half-hour before the game, which usually starts at 1:00 or 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time. A second game usually follows at either 7:00 or 8:00 Eastern Time. If there is a gap between the first and second game, a studio show is not aired in between. All of the telecasts are aired nationally instead of on a regional basis, however the telecast is not exclusive. Although, the telecast for one of the two games is exclusive within the markets of the teams playing, which is always a game between two teams that play on the Fox Sports regional networks. Prime time games continued to air on the Fox network, and once again used the 2010 scheduling formula for these telecasts, including full national exclusivity.
For the 2000 and 2001 seasons, the Fox network's then-sister cable channel, Fox Family (later ABC Family, now Freeform) carried a weekly Major League Baseball game on Thursday nights (a game that had previously aired nationwide on Fox Sports Net from 1997 to 1999), as well as select postseason games from the Division Series. Among the noteworthy games that aired on Fox Family was the October 4, 2001 game between the San Francisco Giants and the Houston Astros, during which Barry Bonds hit his 70th home run of the season, which tied the all-time single season record that Mark McGwire had set only three years earlier (Bonds broke the record the next night).
As part of the company's 2001 purchase of Fox Family, in addition to rights to the Thursday night game, The Walt Disney Company acquired the MLB rights that were also held by FX. Those two game packages were moved to ESPN beginning with the 2002 baseball season, however the playoff games remained on ABC Family for one additional year due to contractual issues. A deal was reached to move those playoff games to ESPN, which produced the games for ABC Family, starting with the 2003 season. Although the games aired on networks owned by Disney, Fox kept the exclusive negotiation rights to renew the contract after the 2006 season. Fox chose not to renew its rights to the Division Series, which (as previously mentioned) went to TBS as part of its new baseball contract.
Meanwhile, the Fox Broadcasting Company's other sister cable channel FX, aired numerous Saturday night Major League Baseball contests in 2001, including Cal Ripken, Jr.'s final game at Camden Yards. FX also aired one game in the Major League Baseball postseason each year from 2001 to 2005, on the first Wednesday night of League Championship Series week when the league scheduled two games at the same time. On that night, Fox distributed one game to local affiliates with the availability of coverage being based on region, and the other game aired on the corresponding cable affiliate of FX, the main DirecTV or Dish Network channel, or an alternate channel on the satellite providers.
With a new Major League Baseball television contract signed – again excluding FX – the last such broadcast was scheduled for October 11, 2006, however that night's NLCS game between the St. Louis Cardinals and New York Mets was rained out, making the Detroit Tigers–Oakland Athletics ALCS game a national broadcast; FX aired the movie Any Given Sunday instead. Both series were played on October 13, but Fox carried both games, with the ALCS airing in the daytime and the NLCS at night. As a result of the August 2013 launches of Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2, FX is no longer used as an outlet for Fox Sports, outside of very rare sports broadcast conflicts with other networks.
With the new 2014 television contract, Fox Sports 1's telecasts will not be exclusive until the postseason, though they may co-exist with local carriers. All games aired on the Fox network, including the Baseball Night in America pre-game show, the All-Star Game, pennant chase telecasts in September, and postseason telecasts, will remain exclusive to the broadcast network.
Postseason coverage Edit
Since the network acquired the rights to postseason baseball coverage, Fox has received criticism from non-baseball fans for not airing first-run original programming during October (baseball fans point out that there are plenty of other broadcast and cable networks available that do air original scripted programming). For the majority of the time that Fox has aired baseball, the network started the fall season for The Simpsons and other shows in November and the fall runs of a few other series beginning in August or September, before being put on hiatus until after the World Series (an exception was The X Factor, which some episodes rescheduled to other nights such as Sundays or delayed in its regularly scheduled timeslot during the singing competition's 2011 to 2013 run due to postseason games that were rained out on their originally scheduled nights or overran into prime time). In 2005, Fox started its fall programming season in September, put its series in hiatus in October for the Major League Baseball playoffs, and resumed non-baseball programming in November. Both approaches have drawn criticism, indicating that there may not be a perfect way for the network to accommodate both sports and regular entertainment programming.
For the first year of its exclusive six-year contract (2001), Fox did a split telecast (which had not been attempted since the ill-fated "Baseball Network" arrangement existed) for the League Championship Series. This meant that two games were played simultaneously on the same night, with one game airing on the Fox network and the other on the regional Fox Sports Net cable channel (depending on market, as some markets did not have a regional sports network with a relationship to FSN). The rationale behind the split-telecast was that because of the September 11 attacks, the entire post-season schedule was delayed by a week. Because of this, two Sunday LCS games came in conflict with an Fox NFL doubleheader. Fans and sports journalists were unimpressed with the situation and MLB commissioner Bud Selig vowed that it was a one-time deal necessitated by circumstance. However, in later years, Fox used split telecasts on a few occasions to keep the playoffs "on schedule" and maximize its prime time advertising revenue, and aired the second game on FX (as previously mentioned), which has virtually nationwide distribution on cable and satellite. This ensured that Fox did not have to air an LCS game on a weekday afternoon, when many viewers are unable to watch. The 2007–2013 contract eliminated this issue, as TBS (as previously mentioned) had rights to one of the League Championship Series each year. However, Fox continued to air afternoon LCS games on weekdays through the entire length of the contract.
With Fox Sports 1 taking over some of the Major League Baseball coverage in 2014, postseason coverage on Fox Sports' end of the package began to be split between the Fox network and Fox Sports 1. Four games from both National League Division Series matchups aired on Fox Sports 1, with the remaining game airing on MLB Network; however, all of the telecasts were produced by Fox and used Fox Sports announcers (although Bob Costas served as a play-by-play announcer for one of the games). Fox Sports then carried exclusive coverage of the National League Championship Series – in which the Fox network aired a traditional telecast of Game 1, while Fox Sports 1 aired an experimental telecast supplemented by advanced metrics and statistics and standard telecasts for Games 2 through 5. Fox would air Game 6 if necessary, while a possible Game 7 (which did not occur) would end up airing on Fox Sports 1; the Fox network would air the World Series in its entirety.
Since its baseball coverage began in 1996, the Fox network has aired four regular season games on days other than Saturday. As part of its coverage of Mark McGwire's bid to break Roger Maris's single-season home run record in 1998, Fox aired a Sunday afternoon game between the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals on September 6 and a Tuesday night game between the Chicago Cubs and the Cardinals on September 8 of that year (McGwire hit his record-breaking 62nd home run of the season in the latter game, which earned a 14.5 rating share for Fox, and remains the network's highest-rated regular season Major League Baseball telecast to this day). On April 16, 2004, the network aired a Friday night game between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox to cover those teams' first head-to-head meeting since the memorable 2003 ALCS. On August 12, 2016, Fox aired a Friday night game between the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees, as it was the final game for longtime Yankees player Alex Rodriguez.
For a Saturday afternoon telecast of a Los Angeles Dodgers/Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field on August 26, 2000, Fox aired a special "Turn Back the Clock" broadcast to commemorate the 61st anniversary of the first televised baseball game. The broadcast started with a recreation of the television technology of 1939, with play-by-play announcer Joe Buck working alone with a single microphone, a single black-and-white camera, and no graphics; each subsequent half-inning would then see the broadcast "jump ahead in time" to a later era, showing the evolving technologies and presentation of network baseball coverage through the years.
Beginning in 2014, Fox Sports 1 added several non-exclusive Tuesday night telecasts outside of its regular Saturday schedule. These games generally feature marquee teams which may attract a large audience, along the lines of the 2004 Red Sox-Yankees telecast or the Mark McGwire telecasts. In 2015, one Thursday game was scheduled, though this was during a rare week in which Fox Saturday Baseball was not scheduled to air.
Saturday baseball games broadcast on Fox have regularly been preceded by a youth-targeted baseball-oriented program: Fox aired In the Zone from the inaugural season of MLB rights in 1996 until 1999, and This Week in Baseball from 2000 to 2011 (the latter program had previously aired in syndication from 1977 to 1998). From 2012 to 2013, Fox aired MLB Player Poll, a show in which players and fans talk about current MLB-related topics and participate in opinion polls about the sport/players of baseball; it was hosted by Greg Amsinger. Player Poll was replaced in 2014 by MLB 162 (the title being a reference to the total number of games each team plays during the Major League Baseball season), which was hosted by Julie Alexandria and aired exclusively on Fox Sports 1. In 2015, Fox Sports 1 began airing MLB's Best, a half-hour weekly show completely containing highlights of the best plays of the previous week in a countdown format, with no host or interviews.
As part of Fox Sports' new Major League Baseball broadcast deal, in April 2014, Fox Sports 1 premiered MLB Whiparound, an hour-long nightly baseball highlight program (similar in vein to ESPN's Baseball Tonight and MLB Network's MLB Tonight) featuring quick-turnaround highlights, and news and analysis from around the league (live look-ins of games being played in progress generally can not be shown on Whiparound, as MLB Tonight is reserved that right exclusively). It is hosted by Chris Myers, who is joined by one or two analysts rotating between Frank Thomas, Eric Karros, Dontrelle Willis and C. J. Nitkowski. Although Whiparound airs most weeknights at 10:00 p.m., the Wednesday editions are usually delayed to 12:00 a.m. Eastern Time on weeks when Fox Sports 1 airs a sporting event in prime time during the MLB season (on weeks without predetermined programming conflicts, the program airs in its regular 10:00 p.m. slot).
MLB coverage on other Fox-owned outletsEdit
Fox owned and operated television stationsEdit
|Team||Station||Years of broadcast rights|
|Boston Red Sox||WFXT 25||2000–2002|
|Chicago White Sox||WFLD 32||1968–1972; 1982–1989|
|Detroit Tigers||WJBK 2||1953–1977; 2007|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||KTTV 11||1958–1992|
|New York Yankees||WNYW 5||1999–2001|
Fox Sports Networks owned-and-operated affiliatesEdit
Former regional rights holdersEdit
|Network||Region served||MLB team rights||Notes|
|Comcast SportsNet Bay Area[n1 16]||Northern and central California, northwestern Nevada and parts of southern Oregon||San Francisco Giants
|Cablevision sold its 60% interest in FSN Bay Area in April 2007 to Comcast, which relaunched the network as Comcast SportsNet Bay Area on March 31, 2008 (the channel continued to carry select FSN programming until August 2012);|
|FSN Chicago[n1 17]||Northern Illinois, northern Indiana, and eastern Iowa||Chicago Cubs
Chicago White Sox
|FSN Chicago lost the regional cable rights to the Cubs and White Sox to Comcast SportsNet Chicago; FSN Chicago ceased operations on June 23, 2006.|
|Fox Sports Houston[n1 18]||Southern Texas
|Houston Astros||Fox Sports Houston held rights to the Houston Astros until 2012, when the newly launched Root Sports Southwest acquired the rights to the Astros and Houston Rockets; Fox Sports Houston subsequently ceased operations as a result.|
Commentators and studio personalitiesEdit
As of 2018, Joe Buck is Fox's lead play-by-play commentator (a role he has held since Fox inaugurated its Major League Baseball coverage in 1996), with John Smoltz serving as color analyst; they are joined by field reporter Ken Rosenthal. From 1996 to 2013, Buck was teamed with Tim McCarver, although McCarver was considered the main reason behind the firing of Jack Buck from CBS five years earlier (due to poor on-air chemistry between the two) in favor of Sean McDonough. Unlike the team of Jack Buck and McCarver on CBS, Joe Buck and McCarver fused. According to McCarver, "The play-by-play man [should] explain what and where and analyst answer why and how. [Joe Buck] does both." During the pre-2001 period, Bob Brenly (who otherwise, typically worked with Thom Brennaman) acted as the third man in the booth with Buck and McCarver during the All-Star Game, League Championship Series and World Series. Buck and McCarver were at the microphone when Brenly led the Arizona Diamondbacks as manager to the 2001 World Series title. Since Joe Buck was hired to work on the NFL on Fox, following the retirement of lead play-by-play voice Pat Summerall in 2002, Dick Stockton, Kenny Albert, Matt Vasgersian, Thom Brennaman, Josh Lewin, and others have filled in for Joe Buck whenever he is unable to work a game.
During the mid-2000s, Fox utilized active or former players and managers as "guest analysts" on the network's League Championship Series telecasts. These included Bret Boone (2003 ALCS), Al Leiter (2003 NLCS and 2004 ALCS), Brenly (2004 and 2005 NLCS), Lou Piniella (2005 and 2006 ALCS), and Luis Gonzalez (2006 NLCS). Many fans accuse Fox of choosing announcers biased towards large market teams, citing some of these choices, including Boone, whose brother, Aaron Boone, was playing for the Yankees in the 2003 ALCS games covered by Bret Boone.
The network's #2 broadcast team has always been led by Thom Brennaman. He has been joined by several analysts: first by Steve Lyons, who was fired by Fox during the 2006 ALCS for racially insensitive comments toward guest analyst Lou Piniella. Lyons was replaced by Joe Girardi, who left after one season to manage the Yankees. Former ESPN analyst Eric Karros replaced Girardi in 2008. In 2014, the #2 role began to be split between Brenneman/Karros and the team of Matt Vasgersian, moving from the studio, and John Smoltz, moving from Turner Sports.
The #2 broadcast team covered various postseason games from 1996 to 2006. For the 2001 season only, Fox had rights to the entire postseason and used its top four teams to cover the Division Series. Like the #1 team, the #2 team was joined by guest analysts during the League Championship Series from 2003 to 2006. Fox was not contracted to cover simultaneous postseason series from 2007 to 2013, so only the #1 team worked during the postseason. With concurrent series returning to Fox starting in 2014, Vasgersian and Smoltz were called upon to work the postseason, with Brenneman working on the #1 team for games Joe Buck is unable to cover.
Since 2012, MLB Network has aired a pair of League Division Series games. The first two years, with MLB Network sharing their series with Turner Sports, the former produced its own LDS coverage with Bob Costas and Jim Kaat. Beginning in 2014, MLB Network took both of its games from Fox's series. Due to the collaboration between Fox and MLB Network, Fox produces the cable network's games, with Vasgersian and Smoltz calling the game which MLB Network took from their series. Meanwhile, Costas would still call MLB Network's game in the other series but he was joined by the rest of Fox's #1 broadcast team for a Fox-produced telecast.
The original studio host when Fox's MLB coverage began in 1996 was Chip Caray. Dave Winfield and Steve Lyons were the show's original analysts. Unlike the network's primary broadcast teams, the studio personnel have not had the same longevity. Winfeld left Fox after only one season, and both Caray and Lyons would move to the broadcast booth before leaving the network. From 1999 to 2000, Keith Olbermann took over the hosting seat from Caray.
According to Olbermann, he was fired from Fox in 2001 after reporting on his MSNBC program Countdown on rumors that Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox parent company News Corporation (which became 21st Century Fox through the July 2013 split of its publishing unit and certain miscellaneous properties into a separate company), was planning on selling the Los Angeles Dodgers. When asked about Olbermann, Murdoch said: "I fired him...He's crazy." News Corporation eventually would sell the Dodgers to Frank McCourt in 2004. That year, Olbermann remarked, "Fox Sports was an infant trying to stand [in comparison to ESPN], but on the broadcast side there was no comparison—ESPN was the bush leagues."
After Olbermann's departure following the 2000 season, Fox Sports Net's Jeanne Zelasko was promoted to host the pregame show. Kevin Kennedy was hired to be the lead analyst. The two would continue to host the pregame from 2001 through the 2008 season. In 2007 and 2008, the two were often joined by one of either Eric Karros, Joe Girardi, Mark Grace or Eric Byrnes.
As previously mentioned, due to poor ratings and budget concerns (Fox never made money on national advertising sales that are seen on Fox NFL Sunday as they were instead, sold by the local affiliates), Fox in 2009, decided to scrap the studio/pregame show altogether (in return, Zelasko and Kennedy were also dropped by Fox – Kennedy has since re-appeared on Fox Sports as a fill-in commentator). The show was retained for the postseason; for the LCS in 2009 and 2010, Chris Rose hosted from Fox's studio in Los Angeles with analysts Karros and Grace. For the 2011 NLCS and the 2009, 2010 and 2011 World Series, the show used an on-field studio for the pregame show. Former Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillén was a guest analyst for the series in 2009 and 2010, with White Sox catcher AJ Pierzynski joining the crew for the 2011 series. For Baseball Night in America from 2009 to 2011, the pregame show was also broadcast from the Los Angeles studio with Rose hosting. However, with Karros and Grace calling games, Kevin Millar joined Rose as analyst. This would spark an eventual drive time talk show hosted by the two on MLB Network.
Also as previously mentioned, beginning in 2012, Fox and MLB Network collaborated on a revived 30-minute pregame show. MLB Network supplied production services and one of its studios, while using Fox's graphics and many of their personalities. Matt Vasgersian was the primary host, with Harold Reynolds and Kevin Millar serving as primary analysts (other analysts from Fox and MLB Network occasionally appear and/or fill-in as well). In both 2012 and 2013, Pierzynski was a member of the panel during the World Series, when the show traveled to the game site and was a complete Fox production.
In 2014, Fox ended its pregame production partnership with MLB Network, but continued the pregame show as it moved back to Los Angeles. Vasgersian was replaced as host by Kevin Burkhardt, joined by analysts semi-regular basis by C. J. Nitkowski, Frank Thomas and Gabe Kapler. Rob Stone was named as the primary substitute host. It was later announced that Vasgersian and Reynolds would move back to the broadcast booth, although they would no longer work together.
On some occasions, whenever Fox is scheduled to broadcast a game involving a Los Angeles team—either the Angels or Dodgers—at their respective home stadiums, the Pregame show would originate from that site.
On July 8, 1997, Fox televised its first ever All-Star Game (out of Jacobs Field in Cleveland). For this particular game, Fox introduced "Catcher-Cam" in which a camera was affixed to the catchers' masks in order to provide unique perspectives of the action around home plate. Catcher-Cam soon would become a regular fixture on Fox's baseball broadcasts.
In addition to Catcher-Cam, other innovations (some of which have received more acclaim than others) that Fox has provided for baseball telecasts have been:
- Sennheiser MKE-2 microphones and SK-250 transmitters in the bases.
- Between 12 and 16 microphones throughout the outfield, ranging from Sennheiser MKH-416 shotgun microphones to DPA 4061s with Crystal Partners Big Ear parabolic microphones to Crown Audio PCC160 plate microphones.
- The continuous "FoxBox" graphic, which contained the score, inning and other information in an upper corner of the television screen. In 2001, the FoxBox was morphed into a strip across the top of the screen, which would later be used by NBC. For baseball broadcasts, it would be removed when a situation of utmost importantance occurred (such as Mark McGwire's record-breaking 62nd home run in 1998 or the last out of the World Series). Beginning in 2009, the top-screen strip would return to a box in the top left-hand corner of the screen.
- Audio accompanying graphics and sandwiched replays between "whooshes."
- "Mega Slo-Mo" technology.
- Scooter, a 3-D animated talking baseball voiced by Tom Kenny, who explained pitch types and mechanics to younger viewers.
- Ball Tracer, a stroboscopic comet tail showing the path of a pitch to the catcher's glove.
- Strike Zone, which shows pitch sequences with strikes displayed in yellow and balls in white. It can put a simulated pane of glass that shatters when a ball goes through the zone.
- The "high home" camera from high behind home plate. Its purpose is that it can trace the arc of a home run and measure the distance the ball traveled. The "high home" camera can also measure a runner's lead off first base while showing in different colors (green, yellow, red) and how far off the base and into pickoff danger a runner is venturing.
- Diamond-Cam, introduced at the 2004 All-Star Game, a camera buried four inches in the ground between the pitcher's mound and home plate to provide field-level views of home plate and the pitcher's mound.
- "Hot Spot", introduced at the 2011 World Series, an infrared camera used to show friction, or when a baseball hits a surface and leaves heat behind. Fox used the technology during a controversial call for the first time in Game 1 of the 2011 World Series, when umpires failed to call a ball that batter Adrián Beltré claimed bounded off his leg. "Hot Spot" showed a patch of heat on Beltre's left shoe, evidence that the ball had in fact hit Beltre and should have been called foul.
Fox executives shelved the ball tracer, strike zone, and high home cam after the prime time game on April 16, 2004, although Scooter was still used until 2006.
In October 2004, Fox started airing all Major League Baseball postseason broadcasts (including the League Championship Series and World Series) in high definition; Fox also started airing the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in HD that year. Prior to the 2008 season, one of the three regional games the network televises each Saturday was presented in HD. Since 2008, all MLB games televised by Fox – including Saturday regional games – are presented in high definition.
On September 29, 2010, Fox announced that it planned to use cable-cams for the network's coverage of the National League Championship Series and World Series. According to Fox, the cable-cams can roam over the field at altitudes ranging from about 12 to 80 feet above ground, and would be able to provide overhead shots of, among other things, "close plays" at bases and "managers talking to their pitchers on the mound."
During some broadcasts, Fox has experienced various technical difficulties. During its broadcast of Game 3 of the 2007 World Series between the Colorado Rockies and Boston Red Sox, for instance, a blackout occurred during the top half of the seventh inning, resulting in the disruption of a key moment in the game.
Fox suffered an outage during their broadcast of Game 1 of the 2015 World Series resulting in a brief delay in the game. After a brief cutaway to the Los Angeles studios (missing one at-bat), Fox picked up the MLB Network-produced feed, which is broadcast to viewers outside the United States. This feed used Fox's #2 announce team of Matt Vasgersian and John Smoltz. After two innings, Fox's #1 crew of Joe Buck, Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci entered and called the action worldwide. An inning later, Fox had their own broadcast back up and running, with Buck, Reynolds and Verducci refunding to the Fox booth, while Vasgersian and Smoltz re-entered the MLBN booth.
Digital on-screen graphicsEdit
For its first year of coverage in 1996, Fox used the scoring bug on their Major League Baseball telecasts. Within two years, the bug would be expanded to all sports telecasts on Fox and other networks. The first scoring bug was a translucent parallelogram with red borders on the left and right. The Fox logo and inning were on the left side, with the score on the right side. The count and number of outs were underneath. A diamond would be displayed around the bug only when runners were on base. An occupied base was represented by a red dot.
The bug was slightly modified in 1998. The layout remained the same but it now was a square. The teams and scores also now had a white background, with a red arrow indicating which team was at bat. Occupied bases were now represented by a yellow triangle. Also beginning in 1998, pitch speed began to briefly cover the count and outs area after a pitch was thrown.
In 1999, Fox unveiled a new scoring bug that was nearly identical to the NFL bug unveiled the previous fall. A permanent baserunner graphic (with a design that would be used through 2008) was on the left side of the bug and occupied bases would light up in yellow. The team scores were on a black background on the right side of the bug. A bar with the Fox logo and the inning (now with a standard up or down arrow to indicate top or bottom of the inning) extended from the top. A bar with the count and the number of outs extended from the bottom.
During the 2000 season, the bug sometimes would move to the lower portion of the screen and flip over to reveal player statistics graphics. However, this feature was not always utilized as player statistics graphics would sometimes simply fade onto the screen with the bug still in place.
For the 2001 season, Fox implemented a new graphics package for its MLB telecasts, which debuted on the network's NASCAR broadcasts in February of that year. The graphics package was an updated version of the design in 1999, but its score bug was revised as a top-screen banner. A simple, transparent black rectangle with a shaded area above it spanned the top of the screen from left to right, displaying the diamond graphic representing the baseball diamond, and the abbreviations of both teams in white. The scores would be shown in yellow boxes next to the team abbreviations; the center showed the inning (a triangle was placed to the left of the inning number to show which half-inning it was: pointing up to represent the top of an inning and pointing down to represent the bottom of an inning), to the right was the number of outs, right of that was the pitch count and the pitch speed (the pitch speed was in the same location as the pitch count, and the pitch speed would appear be in a yellow box); and the MLB on Fox logo was placed on the far right. This banner, along with the shaded area above it, retracted from the top of the screen whenever it appeared or was removed.
Like the scoring bug, this version of the score banner would also be removed at critical points. Midway through the 2003 season, the banner was slightly changed to mirror that used by FSN, although Fox retained its own graphics package; it was enlarged, except on All-Star Game and World Series telecasts as well as the April 16, 2004 Yankees–Red Sox game, and made more translucent. During Fox's coverage of the 2003 World Series and the 2004 All-Star Game, a logo other than the MLB on Fox logo was placed on the far right of the banner instead during non-regular season game broadcasts (e.g. World Series on Fox, All-Star Game on Fox, etc.)
While Fox Sports upgraded the graphics packages on its other properties, the NFL, NFL Europe, and NASCAR starting with the 2003 NFL season, baseball telecasts continued to use this on-screen appearance in 2004 (except during its coverage of that year's postseason), but used elements from a new package that debuted with FSN's baseball broadcasts in mid-summer 2003; FSN also used this on-screen look for all of its sports broadcasts from 2001 until mid-2005, but using different graphics packages than the one Fox used.
A graphic from this package was seen during the 15th inning of the 2008 All-Star Game, when Fox displayed highlights from the 1967 MLB All-Star Game, but only seen in the 4:3 frame on the HD broadcast.
Starting with the 2004 postseason, Fox's baseball broadcasts began using the same graphics package that debuted with NFL telecasts in 2003. The score banner was changed to match the layout adopted by the network's football coverage at the start of the 2004 season, but using the abbreviations of the teams playing instead of their logos. Team abbreviations were shown this time in electronic eggcrate lettering in the team's main color, the shaded area above the score banner was removed, and the scores were shown in white text in black parallelograms. Whenever team-specific information was displayed in the banner such as a scored run or an out, the abbreviation would morph into the team logo with the scored run being displayed; the team who would score a run would have its abbreviation morph into its logo and a "strobe light" would flash over the black parallelogram as the score changes. When a home run was displayed in the banner, a split "strobe light" would flash a few times across the banner with the words "HOME RUN (team)" in the team's color then zooming in to the center from both left and right angles, accompanied by two distorted electric buzzes followed by a futuristic computer sounder. This marked the first time that a home run was displayed in the banner. When it appeared, flashing lights spanning the top of the screen with two moving lines on top and bottom would join to morph into the banner; when first formed, the team logos were shown before changing into the abbreviations. When it was removed, the banner became just a quick beam of light spanning the top of the screen, which would disappear very quickly.
During the 2005 World Series, a new white banner was introduced. This would resemble a chrome finish, and the team abbreviations became white letters in the team's main color; the next few years, the new banner was adopted for all games. This banner, unlike the 2001–2004 version, would not be removed for the final out of the World Series but was dropped at other critical points (like whenever Alex Rodriguez came to bat, tied with an April record 14 home runs, and when Barry Bonds had 753).
Beginning with the 2006 NFL season, Fox's other properties, the NFL, NASCAR, the Bowl Championship Series, and Formula One, again upgraded their graphics packages (Formula One used a different graphics package than the other three properties), but baseball broadcasts continued to use this on-screen design in 2007. It was also used in the July 12, 2008 game between the Colorado Rockies and the New York Mets until the 9th inning, but with the 2008 graphics package instead of the package that was used with this banner.
For the 2008 season, Fox's baseball coverage began using the same graphics package adopted for its NFL telecasts in 2006. The diamond graphic was placed to the right of the scores, and slimmed down to only consist of the main three bases (unlike other implementations which included home plate); the MLB on Fox logo was moved to the far left side. The colored strip across the top of the banner was rendered in blue at all times (instead of being in the colors of the active team). Team abbreviations were no longer in their respective primary colors; and the shaded area above did not contain the animated stripe pattern. The stripe pattern only appeared within the player stats graphic.
The team's logo no longer flashed after scoring a run; however, the background sound of a computer mouse clicking was played with the score change. Also, the banner no longer flashed after a home run; along with the usual clicking sound effect, the text "HOME RUN: (team)" on the team color's background instead appeared in the empty space on the far right, which also includes the count and the out-of-town scores. The same was used for the NFL on Fox scoreboard, when a touchdown or a field goal is scored.
This banner was very similar to the one used 2001–2004 in many ways. The banner and the shaded area above retracted from the top of the screen whenever it appeared or was removed, but in a rather different way. The team names were always abbreviated in white (for example if the Philadelphia Phillies were playing the New York Mets, they would be listed as "PHI" and the Mets would be listed as "NYM"); the scores, however, were also shown in white (not in yellow boxes). If a team scores, the team letters and score numbers flip while the points are being added. If a team scores a home run, this happens 5–6 seconds after the "HOME RUN" bar pops out.
The ball strike count pops out of the blank area when needed. The bug is removed for reporting camera angles and for the press box camera. Like its predecessor, the bug was not removed for the final out of the World Series.
For the 2009 season, telecasts began using the same graphics package implemented by FSN, with the scoreboard now including a rectangular box in the top-left corner of the 4:3 safe area. Along with FSN in observance of the holiday weekend, the baserunner graphic was changed to a blue pattern with stars during the Fourth of July weekend and All-Star Game in 2010. Also in July 2010, broadcasts began to be produced in full 16:9 widescreen and letterboxed for standard definition viewers through the use of the #10 Active Format Description code (which is primarily used for Fox broadcasts transmitted to pay television providers via its stations). The score box was moved to be in the top-left corner of the widescreen feed.
Starting with Opening Day of the 2011 MLB season, both the Fox broadcast network and Fox Sports Networks began using the same graphics package adopted for NFL on Fox telecasts in 2010, featuring a new horizontal layout with team abbreviations (as opposed to the use of team logos on the NFL version) and scores flanking a display of the inning, diamond, count, outs (represented by 3 lights), and pitch speed in the center. The new scoreboard was also able to slide open to reveal statistical information or home run notifications.
For the 2012 MLB season, the score box was modified to use cap insignias instead of team abbreviations, and outs were now represented by only two lamps. Beginning with the 2012 NLCS, the score box was modified again to match the new layout adopted by Fox's NFL coverage at the start of the 2012 season; teams and scores reverted to being vertically stacked on the left, the base graphic moved to the right-hand side, pitch speed is displayed below the base graphic (which now displays the pitch count below the diamond after 40 pitches as well), while the count, outs, and inning number moved to a tab below the box. This graphic was also not removed for the final out of the World Series. In late-March 2013, the Fox Sports Networks began using this version in time for the start of the 2013 MLB season (the previous scoring bug was used for 2013 Spring training games).
For the 2014 season, Fox's MLB coverage debuted a new graphics package first seen on its NASCAR broadcasts that year. Notably, the score box was moved to the bottom-left corner of the screen. The box places the team abbreviations and scores on the left side over the team's background color. On the top of the right side is the inning (which is the only component in yellow text) and the base graphic; the lower right contains the count and outs (represented by two dots). Above the main box is a new "dynamic" strip, which by default shows the last name of the current pitcher along with the number of pitches he has thrown. However, this strip can be expanded and change color to display team-specific information, such as on-deck hitters and pitchers warming up in the bullpen. In June 2015, this was also expanded to include a white area featuring the last name of the current batter and their performance throughout the game (or their average for their first time at-bat). When a home run is hit, the main box turns to the team's color and displays the text "Home Run", while the dynamic strip grows and displays the name of the team over the team's logo. Other times (usually on FSN), the dynamic strip displays the name of the player who hit that home run and the main box displays the type of home run and how many home runs that player has hit during the season. The graphics package itself is similar to the previous design, though these graphics are more in the shape of a square, with a typeface that is less athletic in style than the previous Fox graphic packages. Starting with the 2016 season, the score box was moved to the bottom right.
For the 2017 postseason, Fox's MLB coverage unveiled a new graphics package first seen on its NFL telecasts, though the same layout from the 2014 version for the scoring bug continued to be used, with the addition of two statistical panes atop the scoring bug for batter/pitcher matchups, game at-bat results, and individual statistics. Also, the inning indicator, the ball-strike counter and the out counter (which is now back to being numerically represented) were all moved to the bottom of the scoring bug.
NJJ Music composed the original MLB on Fox theme music in 1996. This theme music was used exclusively from June 1996 until early May 2007. In mid-May 2007, an updated version was unveiled, featuring a more jazzy feel and implementing a full orchestra instead of the synth elements used by the 1996 theme. For the 2007 postseason, a Jochen Flach-composed slow orchestral theme was unveiled, and was used alongside the new orchestral theme for the All-Star Game and postseason from the 2007 ALCS until the 2010 All-Star Game. Fox Saturday Baseball, including the prime time games starting in 2010, still used the 2007 version of the regular theme song exclusively.
Beginning with the 2010 postseason, both the 2007 theme and the Flach theme were replaced by the longtime NFL on Fox theme music, which began to be used for all Fox sporting events. However, starting in 2011 and continuing to today, various songs from the album "Heroes: The Olympic Collection" were used when going into commercial breaks during the All-Star Game, postseason, and other marquee games such Red Sox-Yankees games.
In 2014, the 2007–2010 jazz theme was brought back for Fox Saturday Baseball on FS1 only. The NFL theme was retained for Baseball Night in America, the All-Star Game and coverage of the Division Series, the League Championship Series and the World Series. However, occasionally one of the two themes was heard on telecasts that were designated for the other, implying that the designations are slightly fluid.
Fox Sports has received criticism from sports fans for perceived bias toward teams in certain conferences, especially during the Super Bowl and the World Series, usually the National Football Conference in the National Football League (due to the fact that Fox owns the rights to NFC games) and the American League in Major League Baseball (especially the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox). Fox rarely shows teams from outside the top-10 media markets during the regular season. In addition, in recent years, "O Canada" was preempted during the All-Star Game for commercials.
In 2007, Joe Buck was only scheduled to call eight regular season MLB games out of a 26-game schedule for Fox (along with a handful of regional St. Louis Cardinals telecasts on FSN Midwest). In an interview with Richard Sandomir of the New York Times, Buck defended his reduced baseball commitment:
If you or the casual fan doesn't want to consider me the No. 1 baseball announcer at Fox, it's not my concern ... I don't know why it would matter. I don't know who had a more tiresome, wall-to-wall schedule than my father, and I know what it's like to be a kid in that situation ... He was gone a lot. He needed to be. I understood it. So did my mom. Because my career has gone the way it's gone, I don't have to go wall to wall. ...While I’m deathly afraid of overexposure, I'm more afraid of underexposure at home with my wife and girls.
In 2008, Buck drew criticism for comments he made during an appearance on ESPN Radio's The Herd with Colin Cowherd, in which he admitted to spending "barely any" time following sporting events he does not broadcast, and facetiously claimed that he preferred watching The Bachelorette instead.
In general, Fox's initial lead broadcast team of Joe Buck and Tim McCarver had been heavily scrutinized, much less criticized over time. During the 2012 National League Championship Series between the San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals, Buck and McCarver were accused by the San Francisco media in particular, of being too biased towards the Cardinals.
In Game 4 of the 1997 American League Championship Series, on a wild pitch with runners dashing around the bases, when umpire Durwood Merrill gestured to where the ball was, color commentator Tim McCarver sarcastically commented that "maybe he was trying to tell himself where the ball is!" Merrill heard about that, took offense to it, and fired back in his autobiography that he was letting the other umpires know that the situation was under control. Meanwhile, when rule questions come up during a broadcast, McCarver frequently will explain the rule, sometimes incorrectly. For example, after a St. Louis Cardinals balk in Game 4 of the 2006 NLCS, McCarver explained, "You have to have 'one thousand one' when coming to a stop, and you have to stop your glove in the same place every time in front of your body", when the rules state that there must be merely a complete discernible stop anywhere in front of the pitcher's body; no certain duration or location is necessary.
McCarver has also been known to make verbal gaffes, particularly with player's names (notably confusing Albert Pujols with the retired Luis Pujols, as well as repeatedly referring to Bronson Arroyo as "Brandon Arroyo" during the 2004 World Series). During the 2009 World Series, he referred to New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter as "Jerek Deter". In 2006, an episode of the Fox animated series Family Guy lampooned McCarver's broadcasting ability with the quip, "Well, at least he couldn't be any worse than Tim McCarver is at sportscasting." To make matters worse, during the 2011 World Series, Joe Posnanski of Sports Illustrated argued that McCarver was becoming more and more useless as an analyst. McCarver has in general, been accused of overanalyzing situations, being too verbose, and not allowing a game to "breathe".
During their broadcast of Game 3 of the 2006 American League Championship Series, Lou Piniella, who is of Spanish descent, made an analogy involving the luck of finding a wallet, and then briefly used a couple of Spanish phrases. Fox color commentator Steve Lyons responded by saying that Piniella was "hablaing Español" – Spanglish for "speaking Spanish" – and added, "I still can't find my wallet. I don't understand him, and I don't want to sit close to him now." On October 13, 2006, Fox fired Lyons for making these remarks, which the network determined to be racially insensitive. Lyons was replaced for the last game of the series in Detroit by Los Angeles Angels announcer José Mota. Piniella later stated that he thought that Lyons was just "kidding" and that Lyons was, per Piniella's experience, not bigoted. Lyons had previously maligned Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Shawn Green, who is Jewish, for sitting out a game on Yom Kippur in 2004, saying "He's not even a practicing Jew. He didn't marry a Jewish girl. And from what I understand, he never had a bar mitzvah, which is unfortunate because he doesn't get the money." Lyons was suspended briefly without pay after his remarks, and Fox apologized for Lyons' comments, though Lyons never made an on-air apology.
On July 24, 2012, Matt Yoder of Awful Announcing questioned Fox's need to hire local broadcasters on their national telecasts and therefore, bringing about a perceived sense of favoritism towards one of the participating teams. For example, Billy Ripken, who played for the Baltimore Orioles alongside his Hall of Fame brother Cal, was roundly criticized for his perceived favoritism towards the Orioles while broadcasting an Orioles–Detroit Tigers game (even by actor Jeff Daniels via Twitter) for Fox the previous week. The following week came a Philadelphia Phillies–San Francisco Giants telecast on Fox, which was called by Phillies play-by-play announcer Tom McCarthy and former Phillies pitcher Mitch Williams. McCarthy and Williams were in particular, singled out for their rather downbeat manner of calling a Matt Cain home run off Cole Hamels in the top of the 3rd inning. This was contrasted by their more enthusiastic call of Hamels returning the favor with a home run in the bottom half of the inning.
Since along with Tom Verducci, succeeding Tim McCarver as Fox's lead color commentator in 2014, Harold Reynolds has been accused contributing to little more superficial, surface-level stuff on telecasts. For example, during Game 5 the 2015 American League Championship Series, when Toronto's Chris Colabello cranked a solo homer in the second, Reynolds simple contribution was, "Well, I guess he made an adjustment." More to the point, immediately after, Verducci jumped in and explained how that was the first home run that Kansas City starter Edinson Vólquez had allowed in his past 1,228 changeups. Reynolds’ response was "How do you know that? Unbelievable, Tom. You were sitting on that one, weren’t you?"
Hosts and field reportersEdit
While covering the 2005 Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Comerica Park in Detroit, host Jeanne Zelasko angered many fans for her treatment of legendary broadcaster Ernie Harwell. Many disliked the way Zelasko abruptly – and in many fans' eyes, awkwardly – cut Harwell off just 17 seconds into a pre-game interview, as Harwell was detailing the accomplishments of famous Tiger Al Kaline. Harwell later said he was not offended by Zelasko, and let the matter drop. In September 2008, Zelasko took heat for referring to the Tampa Bay Rays as the "Tampa Rays". Jeanne Zelasko has in general, been accused of being too flippant, not particularly knowledgeable about the sport of baseball, and inserting too many corny cliches or plays on words during broadcasts.
Chris Rose has been criticized for appearing to be too chummy with players that he has interviewed during Fox's baseball coverage. For example, during the 2009 World Series, Rose referred to Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees as "Jeets". One year later during the World Series, Rose referred to both Brian Wilson and Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants as "his friends".
Field reporter Erin Andrews' performance has been criticized since she joined Fox Sports' MLB coverage in 2012. For example, Andrews during trophy presentations, has been accused of showing an extreme lack of knowledge by reading off notes. More to the point, during the trophy presentation at the end of the 2013 American League Championship Series, Andrews misidentified former Anaheim Angels owner and honorary American League president Jackie Autry as her late husband Gene. Andrews was further criticized during the trophy presentations for the 2014 World Series due to her very generic questions that for the most part, lacked insight.
Scooter debuted in the 2004 baseball season on April 16, during a game between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. While Fox Sports television chairman David Hill called Scooter "really cute and really terrific", the character has garnered few positive reactions otherwise, with Sports Illustrated writer John Donovan warning "purists everywhere, grab the barf bag," and Sports Illustrated media writer Richard Deitsch using Scooter as an example of "how technology does not always help society." The Sporting News reported polling their staff with the question "What best summarizes your feelings for Scooter, Fox's talking baseball?": 45% of responders chose the answer "Send him to a slow, painful death." Despite most reactions, Scooter would still be used in televised baseball games until after the 2006 World Series.
Beginning with the 2010 MLB playoffs, Fox has used its NFL theme music for its MLB coverage (and all other Fox Sports properties, including NASCAR and UFC events). There has been backlash from fans who believe that the NFL theme does not belong on MLB coverage, and that the previous MLB theme should return. A poll by Sports Media Watch noted that as of October 23, 2010, while nearly 60% of fans thought that Fox made a bad move, only 11% thought it was a good move and 30% had no opinion (all percentages rounded).
As previously mentioned, in July 2010, the on-screen graphics were repositioned for the 16:9 aspect ratio, as all HDTV programming from the Fox network began to be presented in a letterboxed format using an Active Format Description code for standard definition viewers. The supposed high-definition picture, however, has been derided as coming across as highly imperfect, lacking the detail and clarity normally expected from a high-definition broadcast.
During the 2012 National League Championship Series, Fox's camera angles were criticized for being directly in-line with home plate, thus often ensuring that a pitcher's head blocked the view. Fox's camera angles were again criticized (this time in an elevated and more dead center camera angle) during FS1's coverage of Game 1 of the 2016 National League Division Series between the Chicago Cubs and San Francisco Giants.
During the bottom of the 9th in Game 4 of the 2013 World Series between the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals, Fox's cameras missed Boston closer Koji Uehara picking off pinch runner Kolten Wong to end the game (it was the first postseason game in baseball history to end on a pickoff).
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- Matt Yoder (July 11, 2012). "Real Tweets from Real People – Tim McCarver". AwfulAnnouncing.com. Retrieved October 22, 2012.
- Paul Lebowitz (June 6, 2012). "Guest Column: Are We Doomed to a Lifetime with Buck and McCarver?". Fang's Bites. Retrieved September 20, 2012.
- Ken Fang (October 30, 2011). "3rd Annual Fang's Bites MLB TV Awards". Fang's Bites. Retrieved September 20, 2012.
- Koo, Ben (November 7, 2016). "IS JOE BUCK BAD? OR IS HE ACTUALLY GOOD?". Awful Announcing.
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- "Official Rules: 8.00 The Pitcher". MLB.com. Retrieved September 3, 2009.
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- Richard Sandomir (October 22, 2013). "Anticipating His Next Play, McCarver Is Closing Out an Era". The New York Times.
- McCauley, Janie (October 14, 2006). "APNewsBreak: Fox fires Lyons after insensitive comment". ESPN.com. Associated Press.
- ""Piniella Comes to Defense of Fired Lyons"". Archived from the original on October 20, 2006. Retrieved September 30, 2010.
- Richard Sandomir (October 14, 2006). "Fox Fires Baseball Analyst Over Ethnic Comments". The New York Times.
- Matt Yoder (July 24, 2012). "Like NBA TV, Fox Should Rethink Local Announcers". Awful Announcing. Retrieved September 20, 2012.
- Tony Paul (July 18, 2012). "Fox's Billy Ripken to Tigers fans: I'm not a homer". World News. Retrieved May 2, 2014.
- Malinowski, Erik (October 22, 2015). "MLB playoffs 2015: Ripken, Reynolds show three-person broadcast teams are one too many". Sporting News.
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- Formerly known as Prime Sports Arizona until 1996.
- Formerly known as SportsChannel Florida until 2000, and was the last FSN-acquired network acquired through the SportsChannel purchase to retire the name.
- Formerly part of FSN Midwest prior to 2008; formerly known as Prime Sports Network until 1997. Fox Sports Kansas City was created as a spin-off of FSN Midwest, after it acquired the Royals rights from the defunct Royals Sports Television Network. Fox Sports Midwest produces some of the channel's programming.
- Formerly known as Prime Sports Midwest until 1996.
- Originated as WCCO II in 1986, later known as Midwest Sports Channel from 1989 to 1996. Regional subfeeds exist for the Minnesota/Dakotas region, and portions of Wisconsin not part of the Minneapolis–St. Paul market. The Wisconsin feed became the separate Fox Sports Wisconsin in April 2007.
- Formerly known as SportsChannel Ohio until 1998. Separate subfeeds also exist for the Cincinnati and Cleveland markets.
- Created in 2012, as a result of acquiring the Padres television rights from 4SD. The Padres hold a 20% ownership stake in Fox Sports San Diego.
- Formerly known as SportSouth (which was subsequently adopted by the former Turner South following Fox's 2006 purchase of that channel) until 1996.
- Formerly known as Turner South from 1996 to October 13, 2006, when it adopted the old SportSouth name of sister station Fox Sports South following its sale by Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting System subsidiary to then Fox Sports Networks parent News Corporation (now 21st Century Fox). Renamed Fox Sports Southeast on October 5, 2015 to avoid confusion with Fox Sports South.
- Formerly known as Home Sports Entertainment from 1984 to 1994, and as Prime Sports Southwest until 1996.
- Formerly known as Sunshine Network (originally serving as a Prime Network affiliate) until 2005, renamed Sun Sports until 2015; was acquired by Fox Sports Networks in 1996.
- Fox Sports West was formerly known as (the original) Prime Ticket from 1987 to 1993 and Prime Sports West until 1996; Fox Sports Prime Ticket was formerly known as FSN West 2 until 2007.
- Formerly known as Wisconsin Sports Network from 1996 to 1998, when it became a subfeed of Midwest Sports Channel. Formerly part of Fox Sports North (the former MSC) until 2007; it became a separate channel after Fox Sports Networks acquired the rights to the Milwaukee Brewers. Fox Sports Wisconsin remains a subfeed of Fox Sports North in some markets.
- Originally established by the Indians in 2006, purchased by Fox in December 2012.
- Originally established by the Yankees in 2002, Fox purchased 49% stake in December 2012; acquired 80% control in January 2014
- Formerly known as Pacific Sports Network (PSN) until 1990, SportsChannel Bay Area until 1993 and SportsChannel Pacific until 1998.
- Originally known as Sportsvision Chicago from 1979 to 1984, Hawkvision/ONTV until 1987 and SportsChannel Chicago until 1998.
- Formerly served by FSN Southwest, before becoming an alternate feed of the channel; Fox Sports Houston became a separate subfeed on January 12, 2009. Christine Hall (January 7, 2009). "Fox Sports Houston set for new identity". Houston Business Journal.