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Crystal Brings Back Series Memories

The opening of the World Series on Fox featuring Billy Crystal Wednesday night really brought back childhood memories.

While Crystal described some of the memorable moments in World Series history, footage of  the walk-off Series winning home run by Pittsburgh’s Bill Mazeroski off of the New York Yankees’ Ralph Terry in 1960 briefly played along with other highlights.

“You had to show the Mazeroski clip,” cracked Crystal, a famous Yankee fan who keeps a Mickey Mantle card in his wallet.

As the late Maurice Chevalier would say, “I remember it well.”

In fact, I had just told my sports journalism class at Buffalo State about Maz’s homer to note how much television has changed the Series. I raced home from school that day just in time to see Mazeroski’s heart-breaking home run as leftfielder Yogi Berra (yes, he was out in left field) looked at it clear the wall.

That’s right, Game 7 of the Pirates-Yankees series was played on a weekday afternoon. A close friend of mine said he even remembers that the Buffalo News used to have the score of Series games in its last edition when it was an afternoon and early evening paper.

Billy Crystal

Boy, have times changed because of TV. Fox did start Game 1 of San Francisco’s 8-3 win over Detroit at the reasonable time of 8 p.m. Wednesday. It was still going on at 11:15 p.m. when I went to bed and I’m told it ended at 11:50 p.m.

These games can last past midnight, hardly inductive for school-age kids to stay up and watch them to their conclusion. TV’s control of baseball irritates East Coast fans. But remember, the West Coast isn’t exactly happy, either. After all, the game started at 5 p.m. California time and also started an hour or two earlier in some time zones than it does in the East.

The News now is lucky if the games end early enough on the East Coast to get a decent story in the paper. Credit this morning goes to News baseball writer Mike Harrington, who wrote a very good story about the Giants’ win on deadline.

Harrington probably was grateful that Giant third baseman Pablo Sandoval made his life easier by hitting three home runs and leading a blowout that could have been written by the sixth inning – leaving room for some quick quotes from Sandoval and Giant manager Bruce Bochy.

I would bet not many 10-year-olds knew Sandoval’s name or nickname (Panda) before his incredible feat.

I also will bet Sandoval’s feat will make it into tonight’s Fox opening and in future World Series packages right alongside Mazerowski’s home run and Kirk Gibson’s memorable home run for the Los Angeles Dodgers that caused announcer Jack Buck to say “I don’t believe what I just saw.”

The rating for Game One of the World Series on local Fox affiliate WUTV soared 40 percent from Game One of the 2011 series between St. Louis and Texas. That sounds like a lot, but Wednesday’s game still only had a 6.9 rating, up from a 4.9 a year ago.

To put that in perspective, the Series had a lower local rating than the CBS series “Survivor” (11.5), “Criminal Minds” (11.4) and “CSI” (7.1)”;  the ABC series “The Middle” (8.4), “Neighbors” (8.0), “Modern Family” (10.1) and “Suburgatory” (7.2); and the NBC series “Chicago Fire” (7.2). And the news on Channel 4 (8.3) and Channel 2 (8.0) had higher ratings, too.

In the old days of the Series, the competing networks would avoid carrying original episodes of entertainment shows because they didn’t stand a chance of competing with baseball.

You may have noticed that the rating for ABC’s “Nashville” didn’t make the above list. It does get a strong DVR and On Demand audience, but its live audience only hit a 4.5 rating, about 40 percent lower than “Chicago Fire.” “Nashville” could end up being one of those shows with a great pilot that couldn’t be replicated in future episodes. I thought the second episode was a bore, but didn’t watch Wednesday’s third episode.   

Channel 2’s Scott Brown did a strong truth test piece Wednesday on the extraordinarily deceptive ad by Kathy Hochul’s campaign that suggests Chris Collins fired a lot of people when he purchased Buffalo China and also cut their benefits.

Brown’s story ran the same day that The News did an Ad Watch dissecting the ad’s dishonesty. However, Channel 2 had the added bonus of having the man featured in the ad, former Buffalo China worker Thomas Boyce, on camera. He didn’t defend the details of the ad very well.

Collins’ campaign is furious and wants the Hochul camp to stop running the ad. May I offer a compromise? Why don’t Hochul and Collins make a deal in which each gets to drop one dishonest ad that angers each camp the most.

Of course, Channel 2 and all the TV stations are benefitting from the dishonesty of the ads from both campaigns by getting an enormous amount of ad revenue. As Brown pointed out, the stations can’t change the content in the political ads, a policy that enables all political candidates to lie as much as they want to in their ads.

Please vote on which story from a real estate developer was more overplayed by the media: Rocco Termini’s suggestion that the Bills move to Hamilton, Ont. or Donald Trump’s $5 million offer if President Obama will give out some documents about his life. It’s a close call, but I’m voting for Trump. Can’t the media just declare a moratorium on reporting his foolishness? He is a national joke who craves attention. Please stop giving it to him.

Back to the Series: Last year’s “American Idol” winner Phillip Phillips sang the national anthem before Game 1 of the Series Wednesday night. I suppose that was a promotion for “AI,” which returns to Fox on Jan. 16. I had two thoughts as he gave his routine, low-powered performance. 1) How the heck did he win? And 2) Boy, it is going to take more than some new judges to get “Idol” back on track this season.

Finally, Crystal had one extra reason to be in the Series opening, As Joe Buck noted after the opening ran, Crystal plays a San Francisco minor league announcer in his next movie “Parental Guidance.” It co-stars Bette Midler as his wife and is — naturally – financed by 20th Century Fox.



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6 responses to "Crystal Brings Back Series Memories"

  1. Rob says:

    My afternoon baseball memory was running home from school to watch the Yankees-Red Sox one game playoff. Now these games are on way too late to even watch.

    I think locally the Rocco story was more overplayed. Trump’s “big announcement” was as empty as that boy in the balloon hoax. Just proves that he who shouts the loudest gets the air time.

  2. Joe says:

    I vote for the Termini/downtown stadium stories as being the most overplayed. Everyone knows Trump would sell his soul for another 15 minutes of relevance so anything from him is immediately suspect. “Overplayed” would imply that someone actually believed he had something relevant to say in the first place. Termini on the other hand, has credibility in this community.

    The breathless Channel 2 lead with the move/stadium stories was laughable. You would think they could have tempered it with at least a mention that both were implausible and not in consideration by anyone of consequence. More sensationalism in the guise of news.

    My memory was racing home from school and watching the last couple of innings of the Maz homer game too Alan. I remember kids sneaking transistor radios in to listen to World Series games and occasionally there would be a tv setup in the room to watch as well. TV sports has come a long way (Remembering too that NCAA basketball championships used to be on tape delay).

  3. Alan,I don’t think it’s TV that has the hold on game times as much as it’s baseball’s addiction to TV money that dictates. It’s baseball’s product and they could play the games whenever they want – provided it was negotiated into TV contracts. Someone network would pay something to broadcast afternoon WS games; it just wouldn’t be as much as baseeball would want. I think it’s baseball’s refusal to give up the big bucks that results in midnight finishes.

  4. Ernest says:

    Sorry, but no “w” in Bill Mazeroski.

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