MORE IS LESS
If last Friday night's Yankees-Red Sox game is any indication, Fox is doing its best to clutter the screen during baseball broadcasts. New graphics gizmos traced the arc of pitches and measured the length of a runner's lead off first. The most intrusive feature was Scooter, a cartoon baseball whose mission is to teach kids the basics of the game. "When I'm a knuckleball, I dance up, down, in, around," he squealed while looking more than a I little menacing. "I don't know which way I'm going, but neither does the batter!" The announcers, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, seemed mortified.
After Scooter's first appearance, Buck said, "With apologies to Se�or Wences." And during one visit from Scooter, viewers missed an Enrique Wilson at bat. "It's a way of sugarcoating the information pill," Fox Sports chairman and CEO David Hill said of Scooter last week. "If it works, it's a demonstration of a new feature. If it doesn't, it's an experiment." Here's hoping it's the latter.
HEADROOM FOR MAX
As host of ESPN's Around the Horn, Max Kellerman played kindergarten cop for four yelping sportswriters who fired off one-liners on Kobe and Shaq and Britney and Madonna. Now he gets to be the distinguished professor of sports. On May 10 at 6 p.m. Fox Sports Net will premiere I, Max, a 30-minute daily show on which Kellerman will banter with a couple of as-yet-unnamed sidekicks and interact with viewers. "Rather than being the point guard, I will be the main scoring option," says Kellerman, 30, who first made a name for himself with animated displays of his encyclopedic knowledge of boxing on ESPN2. "On Around the Horn the most I could show of my ability was to state a conclusion with no chance to go through the analysis of what led me there. Now I can."