by Tom Finkel
Watching the Cardinals' improbable run on TV is fun. John Mellencamp's pick-up truck song is more enjoyable after the nine-hundredth listen than Bob Seger's or Taylor Hicks' were, and the color commentary is solid. (Luis Gonzalez doesn't say anything, which is about right.)
But sitting down to watch Game Two of the NLCS on a plasma screen at my well-to-do friend Doug's place last week, I found that I wasn't quite prepared for the High Definition experience. The field looks great -- bright greens and browns -- but the player close-ups are -- how to put this? -- disgusting. The camera pans from Chris Carpenter's salt-stained cap down to his unshaven neck were bad enough, but when Skoal poster boy Tyler Johnson took the mound, things got out of hand. The 25-year-old lefty from Columbia, Missouri, has pitched admirably, but the pinch of tobacco creeping above his lower lip is gross, the particle stream ejecting from his pursed lips unwatchable. Ditto Chris Duncan. But even HD close-ups on non-chewers guarantee a flying loogie or sunflower seed. Throw in Gatorade and chaw, and the bright greens and browns have worn out their welcome.
While we're at it, what's up with that cameraman who trails players after they hit a home run? Does that guy really need to be on the field? Isn't that why God invented the zoom lens? Watching Yadier Molina's butt wiggle after he reduced the home team's deficit from seven to six was cool, but it wasn't exactly a Hank Aaron's 715th moment. -Ben Westhoff