Our nation turns its lonely eyes to Tuffy

During the Cubs home opener today, Chip Caray asked Steve Stone about his favorite Wrigley Field opening day memory. Prompted by me yelling “Tuffy!” from my chair, Steve said it was Karl “Tuffy” Rhodes hitting three home runs off Dwight Gooden in 1994. Hard to believe that was 10 years ago. No such luck for a similar memory today, with the wind blowing in.

Also, for the pregame show and the first inning, WGN’s graphics were being cut off on the sides of the picture, which is what happens when you haven’t paid enough attention to what’s going to happen when you downconvert your high-definition feed to standard definition. I blame the Superstation WGN technical crew in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and their weird “S” logo and incessant “Becker” promos. Maybe Cubs games should be letterboxed on the SD feed, although that might confuse all the elderly Cubs fans in Florida and Arizona who they’re always sending get-well wishes to during the broadcasts.

(Yes, unfortunately, my ticket stub really is that faded, even though it’s been in an envelope in a drawer for most of its life…and that’s with me trying to use some tricks in a graphics program to make the text a little more readable. Cheap ink: another example of Ticketmaster’s evilness.)

Original comments…

Luke, hanger-on: I’m not a big fan of the new WGN baseball graphics. The strip takes up a lot of screen space without passing along much information, plus it often lops off the top of a player’s head. Seems like in past years game data took up just a small corner of the screen — score, inning, tiny dots to denote the count — plus maybe a WGN watermark in another corner. I even seem to recall that cameramen at Wrigley put masking tape in the corner of their viewfinders to remind them to leave important action out of that corner when composing their shots.

Anyway, I’m keeping my eye out at the Tower. One of these days I’ll share an elevator with someone wearing a polo shirt with “WGN sports graphics” embroidered over the pocket, and I’ll refuse to let him off until he agrees to go back to the old design.

Jim: I don’t have a problem with the WGN strip, but maybe that’s because I’ve watched a lot of sports on Fox (football and baseball), inventor of the continuous on-screen score display and then the strip. In fact, I find WGN’s strip more aesthetically pleasing and somewhat easier to read than Fox’s. And the good thing about the strip is that the horrible “Superstation WGN” bug goes away when it’s on-screen.

The strip looked fine in the first inning, and I assume they use the same one in high-definition and standard definition, just with some “white space” on the ends in high-definition. The graphics that were getting cut off on the sides were the ones at the bottom of the screen, which I would call “lower thirds” if I were being pretentious about my radio/TV/film degree.

These days, the WGN cameramen are probably using masking tape (or vertical lines drawn with a Sharpie) in their high-definition viewfinders to show them where the edge of the picture is in standard definition.

Anxiety about the trip already?

All right, enough about jingles. Last night (really this morning), I dreamed that I was at the Phillies game on this trip, and first I realized that I hadn’t done anything about the quality setting on my digital camera, so I was fooling around with that for a while. Finally, once I had matched up the space remaining on the memory card with the number of pictures I thought I’d be taking on the rest of the trip, it was time to settle in and watch the game…except that the seats were uncomfortable metal benches instead of regular stadium seats, and they didn’t slope enough so I had to crane my neck to see around the people in front of me, and the seats weren’t really facing the field, they were facing the scoreboard, which was a lot farther to the left than one might expect. Speaking of which, the scoreboard wasn’t working at first, and once it lit up, it listed the home team as “Padres,” so I thought, “They’ve got the wrong ‘P’ team listed.” Also, Levi and the other hangers-on weren’t around at the beginning of the game, so a family of four took their seats.

I woke up shortly after the game started, with the visiting team having hit a ball to left field that was just foul…at least, I think so, since I was having trouble seeing. Any amateur dream interpreters want to take a crack at this?

On another note, as I alluded to earlier in this blog, I will be visiting a place we’re bypassing on this trip and going to New York for a few days in July, planning on attending the Yankees-Devil Rays game on Thursday, July 8th. (No chance to see the Mets, or either of the two minor-league teams in New York City, unfortunately…the Brooklyn Cyclones and the Staten Island Yankees are playing each other that Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, but I have to go up to Connecticut for a wedding, which is the justification for the trip.)

So here’s the real anxiety about the trip: why are there cheaper rooms available at well-known hotel chains in midtown Manhattan than there are in downtown Detroit? I’m going to assume the rooms are smaller and noiser on West 48th Street than they are on Gratiot Avenue, but still…

Original comments…

maura: wait, you’re going to see the rays?! maybe i can come along!!

Jim: Yes! I’ll be in touch.

Here we go. From WCOL in Columbus, Ohio, circa 1963:

1230’s doubleheader
(15-second instrumental bed)

And a pair of jingles from 1970, from a no-longer-in-existence Washington, D.C., station:

Double play, WEAM

Triple play, WEAM

True, they’re not directly related to baseball, but they are more grist for my upcoming thesis “An All-American Pick Hit: Baseball Imagery in PAMS Radio Jingles, 1958-1975.”