Slate has a good article up arguing the superiority of the dead-center camera over the traditional, slightly-offset camera. I’m in favor of the dead-center, which ESPN toyed with for a year or two and which the Red Sox, Cardinals and Twins use now. This dissent from the article is understandable, however:
There are also television folk who believe that the offset shot is simply better. Tom Adza, who directs Oakland A’s telecasts for Fox Sports Bay Area, says the old-fashioned viewpoint offers a more intimate view of the game. “When ESPN started doing [the dead-center shot], the distance from the top of the pitcher’s head to the plate was fairly great sometimes,” he says. “It was a really wide shot with a lot of dead space. As a viewer, you’re kind of looking at it going, I feel the need to be closer. The offset shot is more compact and fits the screen beautifully.”
I’ll admit, I certainly felt disoriented by the dead-center view when I first saw it for exactly those reasons. It’s a composition thing. When watching it, I felt like I was looking at my friends’ vacation photos and was wishing I could teach them how to properly frame a shot. I got over it, of course, and right now I’d prefer it if everyone went to the dead-center shot. In addition to location, you can see movement on a pitch better. Finally, and this may seem a little weird, you can time pitches better (please don’t tell me I’m the only one who occasionally rips off a practice swing while watching a game).
I guess the big question is what the casual fan thinks. Are they watching enough baseball to get past the compositional problems? Do they know or care enough about the game to appreciate the subtleties of pitch movement and location and stuff?