This time, Fox Sports drops the ball [pg. 11]

This is getting more than just a little annoying. About a week and a half ago, this writer reported the temporary blackout that took place during ESPN Israel's live broadcast of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I women's basketball championship game featuring Shay Doron of the University of Maryland and the fact that a tape-delayed rebroadcast later in the day did not happen according to the published schedule. On Sunday, it was Fox Sports' turn to commit an error. During the broadcast of a New York Yankees-Minnesota Twins game early in the morning, the action skipped from the end of the fourth inning, with Minnesota leading 4-0, to the top of the seventh. During the missing two innings, the Yankees had come back to within two runs (4-2). Sometimes, these time-shifts are announced and viewers are informed it was because of "time constraints." Sunday's time-shift was not announced and I believe it was indeed the result of time constraints and a simple mix-up on a short tape-delay turnaround. How could I tell? Well, after Minnesota pitcher Johan Santana left the game with one out in the top of the seventh and a commercial break, the broadcast resumed in the bottom of the sixth inning. Also, the tape-delayed broadcast ended exactly when it was supposed to end. ESPN Israel explained the issues with the women's college basketball championship broadcasts as "weather-related" and "technical problems," and I am pretty sure that if Fox Sports International's staff was available to respond on Sunday, the response would cite "time constraints" and a "technical error." However, after more than a few years of broadcasting here, I no longer accept such explanations. I expect that ESPN and Fox Sports would by now be devoting more than enough resources to make sure that their broadcasts are as close to perfect as possible, especially since sports fans worldwide can now purchase subscriptions to Internet broadcasts of their favorite teams and sports. Viewers of these two channels in Israel have become accustomed to suffering through 10-15 minutes of often-repeated, mind-numbing "house" ads per hour. Some viewers prefer to record the live broadcasts and watch them later so that they can fast-forward past the torture. Also, we have never been provided an explanation as to why ESPN and Fox Sports have to "move ahead in the action" when it would seem that they could simply broadcast fewer of their commercials. If ESPN and Fox Sports want to stay on the non-US cable and satellite map, I suggest they make sure that we can see all of a game and take steps to reduce, if not eliminate, the frequency of technical problems. The writer is deputy sports editor of The Jerusalem Post.