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Fox promises closer look at baseball

(ran GB edition)

Fox executives are promising to give sports fans a closer look at Major League Baseball by putting more microphones on the field and taking cameras where they've never been before.

Although Fox also will be broadcasting such sporting crown jewels as Super Bowl XXXI and the Stanley Cup Finals this season, issues surrounding the network's baseball coverage and the World Series dominated the Fox session at the networks' summer press tour in Pasadena last week.

Fox is predicting that post-season baseball coverage will boost its primetime audience in October by 70 percent and that the network could win up to 13 of 15 nights with playoff games that month.

Fox Sports executive producer Ed Goren applauded Major League Baseball for its exceptional cooperation with the network _ a sharp contrast with his experience with the league when he was at CBS.

Citing a recent example, he said, "They gave us the access to put a camera down at the batting cage where (the Chicago White Sox's) Harold Baines was going to warm up. And he was working on hitting the ball into the opposite field. The next inning, he's the lead-off hitter. Boom! Home run, opposite field."

But the panelists were quick to point out that they are working to avoid any embarrassment for players, managers and coaches that the unprecedented access may bring. Conversations on the field captured on tape will be broadcast only on replay, they said.

Despite the desire to give viewers more insight on the game, some areas of baseball may be too sacred for television, said studio analyst and former player Dave Winfield.

"I don't know if it's appropriate really (to televise) talks in the locker room right before you go onto the field (in a World Series)," he said. "But that would be something that people would love to see."