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STAY OUT OF OUR WAY.

Byline: KEVIN MODESTI

Every time I go to a major sports event now, I get the unpleasant feeling I'm trespassing in an enormous TV studio.

Last week, that feeling choked the pleasure out of watching Team Japan celebrate its unexpected championship in the World Baseball Classic. The simple joyous scene of the Japanese players jumping and hugging near the pitcher's mound was quickly complicated by the sight of dozens of camera-and-microphone-toting grunts running onto the field to capture the moment close-up. No doubt a thorough examination of Ichiro Suzuki's facial pores enhanced the drama for viewers at home, but the process spoiled it for everybody in the ballpark in San Diego.

As the merriment went on, a group of crewmen wheeled an enormous three-dimensional representation of the WBC's baseball-globe logo into shallow center field. Another group carried a sort of cannon to the edge of the diamond, where the contraption blasted millions of pieces of multi-colored confetti into the sky. Apparently, the effect at home was of a magical cloud engulfing the happy winners, but in the park it looked like a paper-shredder gone mad and a nightmare for the custodial staff.

The party had not yet played out before ESPN pulled aside the winning manager and the tournament MVP to be questioned live from home plate. On TV, it was a rare chance to see and hear the great Japanese slugger-turned-skipper Sadaharu Oh. To the naked eye, it was a not-so-rare chance to see an interviewer, an interpreter, a cameraman, a sound man and a cable-lugging man getting in the way of real life.

This is sports in the new century and my latest pet peeve.

Athletes and ball clubs won't complain. Their salaries and bills are paid for with TV money, and if a network wanted to interview Tim Duncan between free throws in the last seconds of Game 7 of the NBA Finals, it probably would be allowed.

But ticket-buyers should raise a stink. They pay the price to witness these things first-hand, and they shouldn't be made to feel like unpaid extras valuable only for the ambient sound and painted-face cutaways they add to the telecast.

Maybe you saw the photo in Another Local Paper the morning after UCLA's victory over Gonzaga. It should have been a poignant scene of Arron Afflalo trying to comfort a bawling Adam Morrison. Instead the picture was cluttered by a technician holding a video cable and three cameramen, one of them a news photographer crouching close enough to Morrison to dab the tears.

How about we banish these rodents to the sidelines until all of the combatants are off the court, field, rink, course, track or whatever. We'll teach them to use a little gizmo called a zoom lens.

Watching sports should be like watching a movie. Instead, too often,it's like watching the making of a movie.

Do the people who stage NBA teams' pre-game introductions think fans won't noticed that the smoke and fireworks come from dumb little machines that are rolled onto the court by the arena crew?

Do the DiamondVision producers care that, in order to get close-up shots of ballplayers during baseline introductions, cameramen stand right in front of the players and block them from normal view?

For years, the Dodgers had the national-anthem singer stand in center field, as far as possible from most of the fans. Then they surrounded the singer with a video cameraman and his assistants and team photographers. Of course, you watched the singer on the video board - you couldn't watch any other way unless you had X-ray binoculars.

Maybe this is fascinating to some people. Makes them feel privileged to be behind the scenes at a television production. It never ceases to amaze me that, a generation after the advent of stadium video boards, fans continue to be fascinated by the sight of other fans waving at their own pictures.

This is not a general rant against television. Television is a good thing.

Networks can use 1,000 camera angles, as far as I'm concerned. They can interview managers from the dugouts for nine innings if they want.

Just stay off the field. Get out of the way.

When Scott Podsednik hit a home run to win Game 2 of the World Series, the live-TV picture of Podsednik approaching a mob of White Sox at home plate obviously was shot by a cameraman running behind him on the baseline. That must have looked classy to the folks at the park in Chicago.

You're telling me The Shot Heard 'Round the World would have been bigger with higher production values?

``The Giants win the pennant! The Giants win the pennant! The Giants wi- ... Quickly, let's go down to the field, where Lisa Guerrero will get Bobby Thomson's thoughts as he rounds third base.''
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 26, 2006
Words:803
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