What a strange half-game. Unlike anything ever seen before in baseball, we watched what, essentially, was a 3 1/2-inning game. Seemed like every at-bat called for major strategy. Do you pinch hit? If you send up that pinch-hitter, who will the other team bring into pitch? Should you bunt here? Steal there? Instead of getting caught up in the hoopla of the World Series, Fox announcers Joe Buck and Tim McCarver broke down each at-bat, offering the various scenarios and their opinions that real baseball fans could chew over.
Fox's Tim McCarver made a rare misstep in this World Series. Just before Game 5 resumed, he said, "I find it interesting that the Rays do not have a left-hander warming up.''
But just a few minutes earlier, lefty J.P. Howell could be seen throwing in the bullpen. The only reason to mention this is because it could be construed as criticism of Rays manager Joe Maddon when, in fact, Maddon did have a lefty warming up.
Line that everybody was thinking
Fox announcer Joe Buck said what everyone has been thinking for two days: "This just has an odd feel about it.''
While Rays fans surely didn't appreciate it, Fox did a splendid job showing replay after replay of the Phillies reacting to the final out of the game — from practically every player on the field to the bench to manager Charlie Manuel to executives in the owner's suite. The stream of replays — as well as a replay of Harry Kalas' call on Phillies radio — certainly were a treat for Phillies fans and fun for everyone else except those who were rooting for the Rays.
I've said it before, and this World Series has done nothing to change my mind: No network — over-the-air or cable — covers sporting events better than Fox. From its announcers to its graphics to its production, Fox is the best in the business. In this World Series, announcers Joe Buck and Tim McCarver were on top of their games. Maybe they didn't come off as special, but a lot of that is due to calling what turned out to be a rather dull Series dominated by the Phillies.
Fox has moved away from constant fan shots and concentrated on closeups of the competitors in between pitches, a smart move. The only criticism is it underused reporter Ken Rosenthal, who is a wealth of information. That keeps Fox from getting an A-plus for its coverage. Still, an A for the Series.
Certainly Philadelphia fans are celebrating, and they should. The team that deserved to win won. But after the rain delays of the past couple of days and the strange circumstances of how Game 5 dragged on, wasn't there this feeling of relief that this bizarre World Series is finally just … over?