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Foreshortening the Game

Slate’s Greg Hanlon writes about the use of dead-center cameras in baseball, rather than the traditional left-center shot of pitcher and batter.

It’s a good point, and the dead-center view is superior to the left-center. But Hanlon misses the real question: Why put the camera in the outfield at all? After all, nobody who attends a game in person sits in the outfield in order to get a closer view of the batter. No, the view people are willing to pay top dollar for is behind home plate. There one gets a good look at the batter, the pitcher, the umpire, the pitch, as well as the fielders and any runners on base.

Here in Washington, a few times a game MASN will use a behind-home-plate camera on a pitch or two. It’s absolutely the best angle when runners are in motion or when the batter hits the ball. In the behind-home view, the camera can follow a hit ball without changing cameras or reversing the left-to-right screen angle between shots. Watching a televised game from this angle is like sitting in the best seat in the park.

Watching a televised game perched over the pitcher’s shoulder in deep center field is like sitting in the worst seat in the park, with binoculars. Switching from the traditional left-center camera to a true dead-center view is an improvement. But it amounts to moving from the worst seat in the park to the second-worst seat. Wouldn’t it be better to put fans in the best seat instead?