A note to the pooh-bahs at Fox and ESPN: God disapproves of the gimmicks in your baseball broadcasts that purport to give viewers an umpire's-eye view of the game. Longtime National League ump Doug Harvey, who commanded such respect that players nicknamed him God, believes gadgetry like ESPN's K-Zone (a three-dimensional outline of the strike zone) and Fox's dead-centerfield and in-ground camera shots unfairly subject umpires to second-guessing from fans and hypercritical announcers. "They're projecting untrue images and trying to call balls and strikes," says Harvey, 74, who retired in 1992 after 31 years of wearing the blue. "They're lying to the American public."
As an ump Harvey knew positioning was the key to making a call; his beef with the networks is that their cameras aren't placed to give viewers a true view of the action. In short, distance distorts--even if it's dead even with home plate, a centerfield camera 400 feet away can't project a completely accurate image. Ditto for an overhead camera angle that's not perpendicular to the plate. "Fans think they can see these pitches and become so suspicious of the guys calling the balls and strikes," Harvey says. "That's unfair because the umpiring now is better than it ever has been." -- S.C.