Saturday morning, while nursing the end of a bad Friday night migraine, I curled up on my couch to watch the Red Sox play the Yankees on FOX.
I have mixed feelings when watching a baseball game on FOX. The FOX announcers are always so annoying but yet I am always grateful that the game is being broadcast on TV. Usually by the 5th or 6th inning, I mute my TV and turn on MLB Gameday Audio on the computer to listen to the local radio broadcast. The only problem with that is that the audio broadcast is delayed about 30 seconds.
Saturday's game was one of those close finger-crossing, holding your breath type of games. With two outs and two men on in the top of the eighth, Alex Rodriguez is up. Just as the Sox bring in Papelbon to try to get out of the jam, it begins to rain and the game is delayed for about 2 1/2 hours.
Finally the game resumes. Papelbon strikes out A-Rod with three straight pitches. The crowd goes wild. The Sox are then quickly retired in order 1-2-3 in the bottom of the 8th.
Now, here is where the déjà vu Heidi Game happens.
It’s the top of the ninth, the Sox have a one run lead, and it is the last chance for the Yankees to come back. I am sure both Yankees and Red Sox fans everywhere are glued to the tube. With two outs and Cano batting with a 3-2 count on him, BAM, the game disappears and race cars appear on the TV screen!!! With no warning, in the middle of an at-bat, the game is gone and race cars are racing around in circles!
Proof of the FOX blunder - 17 seconds til the cars appear...
After a minor freak out, and a few swears, I suddenly remember that games have sometimes been broadcast on FX in the past. I grabbed my remote and turn to channel 41 just as the game ended. Cano grounded out, Sox won 4-3.
I switched channels before FOX finally announced what happened to the baseball game. Obviously it was too late to see the ending of the game by the time the new channel was announced.
Not only did baseball fans miss the end of the game, FOX did not even start the NASCAR race at the beginning, so what was the urgency to switch sports? And worse yet, I am sure everyone watching FX freaked out because all of a sudden in the middle of their movie, baseball appeared.
Once the game was over, FX did a little wrap up, which I am sure further angered the movie watchers and then FX went to a commercial instead of getting right back to the “interrupted movie in progress". I also read that right after they cut away to the NASCAR race, which was sooo important to show, after a couple of laps, they went to a commercial. I guess those laps weren't as important.
"The Heidi Game" originally referred to the famous Jets/Raiders game which was played in 1968 when NBC switched to an airing of the movie Heidi with 65 seconds left in the football game. Jets were leading 32-29. During that remaining 65 seconds, the Raiders came back and scored 14 points, winning 43-32. The game was voted by fans as one of the 10 most memorable games in American football history. As you can imagine, the fans watching NBC were furious. At 7:20 pm, a crawl across the bottom of the screen announced the ending to the game (during a dramatic point in the movie when Heidi's paralyzed cousin Clara fell from her wheelchair and had to summon enough courage to try to walk). I probably watched that broadcast of the movie Heidi but was too young to remember the game fiasco.
If you have the time, check out the Heidi Game link to read more about reactions to the switch to Heidi at the end of the game and the aftermath. It is pretty interesting.
Morale of the story...MLB should ban all future games from the FOX network. Not only are their announcers annoying, but they have no idea how to give proper notice if a game will all of a sudden disappear from the screen. John Mayer could have done better! And to switch networks in a middle of an at-bat is so so wrong! At least they could have put one of those crawls at the top or the bottom of the screen with a warning that the game would be moving to FX BEFORE they were going to switch to NASCAR. They should have made the move between batters. Better yet, they should have started the NASCAR race on FX. The baseball game was only one strike away from being over.
I read that Dan Bell, vice president of communications for Fox Sports, admitted that in retrospect, Fox could have run graphics on the screen in order to alert people watching the game without sound or at a bar. DUH??? Better yet, he should have added that the graphics could have run BEFORE they planned to actually make the switch.
At least I heard the end of the game on MLB Gameday Audio.