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Split decision irks fans

The calls and e-mails to the sports department began early in yesterday's Fox telecast of the Red Sox-Yankees game. Fox was cutting away from Fenway to update the White Sox-Indians action from Cleveland. Red Sox Nation, glued to every pitch of the Sox game, wasn't happy.

E-mailer Andrew Goldstein summed up the feeling: ''When they split the screen, I have no idea what is going on with the Sox and at one point they even completely switched games in the middle of a Millar at-bat. Why do they think the White Sox-Indians game is more important to the Boston area than the Red Sox game?

''I have tried calling Fox and Fox 25, but all numbers are busy so I'm sure I'm not the only one with that idea."

Dan Bell, Fox director of communications, said, ''We're doing just what we said we would -- following and updating the games with a bearing on the pennant races. Our job is to provide viewers around the country with every significant play. It's not like we're talking about games with no significance."

Then he gave the network's ultimate justification: ''We've even scrapped commercials to stay with the updates between innings."

And as Fox Sports president Ed Goren piped in: ''Look at the score. The Sox are losing and the fans are upset."

''Not so," responded Goldstein: ''Fox has it all wrong. We are mad because we cannot see or hear the game for minutes at a time."

Normal fan frustrations such as Fox losing the ball on Manny Ramirez's first-inning home run or coming back from break late when David Ortiz led off the last of the third with a double weren't the issue on this afternoon. It was the new experience of seeing Kevin Millar or Craig Hansen in a small box (with Indians-White Sox in a larger box) that was frustrating.

And Red Sox Nation is far-flung. Calls to this reporter's home came from fans watching in New York and Connecticut, saying, ''What's Fox doing?"

The answer, said Fox, is what was promised. Fox had said it was treating yesterday as the first game of its postseason playoffs.

A couple of Division Series games are scheduled to be regional telecasts with similar split-screens and cut-ins.

You know how that will go over in Boston if the Sox are involved.

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