J.R.Donohue/Commentary/Steve Sax, Useless Cynic
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Steve Sax, Useless Cynic
For the love of the game? Sax has no clue.
09/02/98

Letter to Fox Sports

Please forward copies as follows:
To Fox Sports Executives
To the anchor desk of Fox Sports News
To Steve Sax

     I wish to object to a comment by Steve Sax on Fox Sports News tonight (viewing in Los Angeles on Century Cable Ch.14 at aprox 10:40 PM PST.)

     I was blown away today by the magnificent achievement of Mark McGuire (#58 and #59) and having missed the highlights earlier, I tuned in to your broadcast. Keven Frazier was doing a respectable job of bringing out the story (see aside below) when the highlight sequence ended and Frazier made the welcome and timely comment that within the context of so much talk about the value of these historical baseballs, all four young men who had captured Mac's four blasts in two games in Florida had returned the balls to the slugger. This fact jolted me with delight. I hadn't known it, and it was great news.

     Sax immediately smirked: "Well, they were all rich kids," followed by a quick just-kidding sound of deprecation from Sax and a nervous yuck by the two anchors, after which Sax leapt into his rapid fire comments which I was too furious to remember in full; suffice it to say, his spiel was not at the service of amplifying Frazier's excellent point.

     This is an insult to the hearts of young baseball fans. If those were rich kids, Sax implies that rich kids are incapable of doing the right (true baseball fan) thing for it's own sake, as if wealth automatically closes their souls to such a motive. If those were not rich kids, he implies that un-rich kids would also not have the character for the grand gesture -- or would be excused if they held out for money.

     I can assure you from my own life and from that of friends watching this stupendous baseball season, we are teaching our sons -- rich or not -- the right thing. I have had a fantasy conversation with my son about what we would do if we caught number 62, and it is not about dollar signs. It is full of the unbelievable joy we would feel to hand that ball to Big Mac, hopefully with his son at his side, and then seeing that ball in Cooperstown some day. WHAT DO YOU THINK BASEBALL IS ALL ABOUT, Mr. Sax? What do you think creates the great tidal wave of love for Mac and Sammy? If you think we are emotional fools, then you ought to get the hell out of the business. And give us back the millions that were paid to you as a player, since our love of the game made them possible.

     You missed a great moment when Mr. Frazier swatted you that comment. You could have been part of this magnificent event by letting us see something in YOU that was uncynical. Instead, you revealed yourself for a fool. Too bad for you.

     To Fox executives: I trust you will not say that Sax "didn't mean anything by it," or that he was "nervous," or some other lame excuse. That was a completely revealing comment. Sarcasm at a great moment is destructive. Perhaps you should face the fact that you have in your employ someone incapable of getting turned on by pure sport, even in the heat of the most compelling and thrilling baseball season I have witnessed in my 42 years of following the game.

     This is not the first time I have objected to Sax's attitude. If you feel that he is your equivalent of ESPN's Harold Reynolds. . .not even close.

     [Aside regarding highlights: the cutting is too fast. Please let us savor something, at least once in each sequence. Let us see the camera shaking from sonic thunder after a homer -- with no comment for 4 seconds. How about a full 5 seconds of a pitcher thanking the shortstop in the dugout after a run saving impossible play. Or a close-up of a fan handing a caught ball to his daughter and her big eyes of adoration. And this: can't you coordinate the images to Frazier's text? He made a cool comment about the lady who caught Sosa's opposite-field history making homer, and you had a great shot of her reaction, but you CUT away too fast and ruined his comment. If it were me, I would not let anyone under 40 years of age cut the highlights!]

     Feedback welcome.

     I would especially wish to know if Sax knew ahead of time that Mr. Frazier was going to feed him the comment about the four returned balls, and therefore Sax had time to deliberately plan that crack. The answer to this would not change my reaction at all; I am just curious.

Sincerely,

John Donohue
Pasadena, CA

P.S. Please notify me of the broadcast date of your interview with the four guys who gave the baseballs back to Mac.






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