Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My take on the All-Star Game

Yes, this is a baseball post. See many of you tomorrow. But the combination of last night's All-Star Game and my warped sense of humor – it was a blog post that wrote itself.

I love the All-Star Game. I never miss it. I once traveled halfway across the country to see one in person. But who are we kidding that the outcome really means something? Talk about schmuck bait. The winning league gets home field advantage for the World Series. I’m sure the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs players played extra hard.

Clayton Kershaw should have started the game for the National League, not Adam Wainwright. Cardinal manager Mike Matheny clearly picked his own guy. But if the game really “meant” something he would have started the best pitcher in baseball.

Besides, wouldn’t it have been great to have the first American League batter – Derek Jeter – face Clayton Kershaw?

To me baseball has the only All-Star Game where the defense plays as hard as the offense. Compare that to the NBA All-Star Game where the final score is usually 189-174 and the NFL Pro Bowl Game where… do they still even have the NFL Pro Bowl Game?

Target Field in Minnesota is one of the most magnificent ballparks I’ve ever seen. Bring snow plows most of the year, but if you’re a baseball fan it’s worth a trip.

Nice to see Rod Carew throw out the first pitch. Who says there aren’t great Jews in baseball?

Shame on Fox for not once mentioning Tony Gwynn. Nor Don Zimmer. Nor Bob Welch. Nor Jerry Coleman. 

But they took time out to show Terry Crews sitting in the stands and smiling like a Cheshire cat. Note to Fox: When you feature one of your “stars” and have to identify who he is and what show he’s on, he’s not a “star.”

The home run hitting contest is boring. Three hours of batting practice and rules that seem like they’re making them up as they go along. Here’s how you fix it: Put ESPN’s Chris Berman in a booth just beyond the centerfield fence. First home run to hit him wins.

The Derek Jeter tributes were lovely because the affection and admiration everyone has for him is genuine and earned. Compare that to any Hollywood function honoring Harvey Weinstein.

It was a great moment when Jeter left the game and received a huge standing ovation. However, I feel he deserved a bigger gesture. I would have had Jesus Christ rise and present him with a Chevy Tahoe.

Very cool having the late Bob Shepherd deliver the PA announcement for Derek Jeter.

And Jeter does have a flair for the dramatic. Two more hits last night. Those may be the only two hits on Fox this summer.

Note to field reporters:  Don't ask players what "emotions" they're feeling right now.  It's a stupid question.  What do you think their emotions are?   No ballplayer has ever answered that question without seven cliches -- even the ones who can't speak English.  

Tom Verducci is a welcome addition to the Fox broadcast crew. And Harold Reynolds is… a nice guy. Still, it was just a pleasure not hearing Tim McCarver confuse Barry Bonds with Barry Manilow.

Let the hate begin but I'm a Joe Buck fan. 

God, I’m getting tired of Idina Menzel just belting the shit out of every song. It’s not the home run hitting contest for singers.

Glad Mike Trout won the MVP award. Attention Dodger fans: the best, most exciting outfielder in Southern California is not Yasiel Puig.

Spiffy beards, guys. Half the players looked like the French prisoners chained to walls in THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK. Tell me girls, does that look do it for you?

Late in the game when there were substitutions in the field, Fox never bothered to show them. For many of these guys it was their one moment in the sun. Instead, Joe Buck would have to say “ground ball to Starlin Castro, who’s the new shortstop…”

David Price didn’t get into the game. I was hoping he’d come in with a big “For Sale” sign on the back of his Rays uniform.

Nice that commissioner Bud Selig said his legacy is that baseball is now making way more money. Of course only 30% of Dodger fans can watch the games now, playoffs last until Christmas, and cheater Alex Rodriguez is practically a billionaire, but yeah, owners can all give you change for a ten.

The last time Minnesota had the All-Star Game was 1985, the first year Bud Selig wore that suit. Considering he's worn it every day since, it still looks pretty good. 

Not shown on TV:  A protester jumped from a parking ramp, scaled a ladder, and hung a banner on the Diamondvision Board that said LOVE WATER, NOT OIL.   Instead we saw Derek Jeter's parents for the millionth time. 
If this were a regular game, how many of those calls would be challenged? And overturned?

Has an umpire ever thrown anyone out of an All-Star Game?  

I marvel at how great these athletes are.

Seriously, I can’t get over them not once mentioning Tony Gwynn. Truly disgraceful.

Since each team must have at least one representative there were a couple of All-Stars that wouldn’t even make some of the other team’s major league rosters. All-Star Tyson Ross of San Diego has 10 losses and only 2 wins in his last 10 starts.

Meanwhile, Garrett Richards of the Angels is 10-2 and didn’t make the All-Star cut.

It pissed me off that ballplayers negotiate bonuses in their contracts for making the All-Star team. For the multi-millions they’re being paid they’re SUPPOSED to make the All-Star team. They should give back half their salary if they DON'T make the All-Star tam. 

Once you get down to the end of the game the All-Stars are people most casual fans have never heard of. Charlie Blackmon? Devin Mesoraco? Terry Crews? Oh wait. One of those is the Fox star.

Congratulations to the American League for winning. We’ll see you back at Target Field in November when the Twins get in the World Series and have the home field advantage.  Bring a sweater.

And now that there have been a gazillion tributes to Derek Jeter, if you want to use Idina Menzel, let her sing "Let It Go."  


Chris said...

Friday question: a rumor going around on the internet claims Ed O'Neill auditioned to play Sam Malone before you guys changed him to a baseball pitcher. Any truth there?

PatGLex said...

As a Twins fan who doesn't live there anymore it was great to see some familiar faces/names [well I wasn't prepared for Neshek's beard]. But LOL at your last sentence, because the Twins won't get to the WS for a decade at least. I will admit that Target Field is pretty spiffy. Not Friday question: is it worth it to go to an All Star game? Because the 2015 game is in Cincinnati (the closest major league team to me) and I'm wondering if it's worth attending in person. [Also: supposedly Selig said that the Reds can involve Pete Rose in the]

VincentS said...

Agree with almost everything you said, Ken (kind of like Tim McCarver, myself, though). They should be ashamed of themselves for no mentioning Tony Gwynn. There never was a better good-will ambassador for the game. And the sooner Bud Selig hits the bricks the better off baseball will be! I say Ken Burns for Commissioner!

solarity said...

Way too much Jeter and way too little Gwynn. Why? Jeter plays in NY and Gwynn didn't.

Mr. Hollywood said...

You know in the old days when NBC covered baseball, there would have been a tasteful tribute to Gwynn and Zimmer and Welch. I still miss the NBC coverage ... and although he seems like a pleasant enough guy, can we get a better announcer then Joe Buck?

DBA said...

I wouldn't have been bothered about the lack of mention of Tony Gwynn if they hadn't spent 30 minutes throughout the broadcast on tribute to Derek Jeter. I have nothing against Derek Jeter. But this whole "farewell tour" the media has decided is not necessary. They're acting like he died, and then completely ignoring a major great who actually did. Personally, I don't think the ASG needs an in memoriam like the Oscars or Tonys. It's a fluff exhibition game. If it'd been presented as such there'd be less uproar.

JT Anthony said...

Curious of your opinion of the following:
1) Speculation that Wainwright threw Jeter a softball to hit during the game, and,
2) Jeter seems to be a classy guy, but one incident sticks in my head that detracts from his legend--the time when he feigned getting hit in the hand by a pitch, but really didn't (the pitch hit the bat instead).
I immediately thought of the quote, "if you ain't cheatin', you ain't tryin'" (or some such thing). As if there's honor in getting on base under false pretenses. I've never bought the usual arguments that it's "part of the game," or "everyone does it, so you're a fool if you don't."
Any thoughts?

Killer said...

Bring a sweater, and a shovel.

Phantom Dreamer said...

Hopefully next year, MLB will do away with the stale A.L. vs N.L. format and have a USA vs The World format instead. Try something different.

Patrick Murphy said...

A little bone to pick. Tyson (not Tyler) Ross has only won 2 games in his last 10,that is correct, but give the kid a break. His ERA is sub 3 in that span. His K/9 is upwards of 9 too. Talk about a Fox not giving these kids a moment in the sun, pick on someone else.

Phillip B said...

Favorite point of the night was CBS tweeting their congratulations for NY Yankees legend "Michael Jeter."

They most likely have someone new handling their social media this morning, and actor Michael Jeter has gotten the most attention since he died in 2003.

In CBS' defense, Michael was a star on a CBS sitcom "Evening Shade"...

Igor said...


In LA, can't you all just get along? Can't you all LOVE WATER, LOVE OIL?

BTW, Ken, while I get the point you made using Terry Crews, he is a great actor. Really. At least in this way: The first time I saw him was as the gentle, henpecked dad in "Everybody Hates Chris". I think he did well there.

And then one day, I watched the DVD of "Malibu's Most Wanted" and... He was a bad mother-- Shut your mouth! Playing a character named 8 Ball, he was scarey as shit. (Of course, there he had his shirt off, so - nice visual effect.)

Plus, he was in one of my favorite movies, "Idiocracy". (And NO, whoever you may be - You may not reply with, "Idiocracy? Figures." That's too easy.)

Michael said...

I didn't watch much of the game, and of course I was not so secretly pleased that Cardinals pitchers gave up the runs. Kershaw, being Kershaw, said Wainwright should have started the game.

Derek Jeter is a class act (yes, he cheated on the field where everybody is expected to, but not on the things that deservedly get you suspended or banned), and that makes the absence of a Tony Gwynn tribute particularly annoying. Everybody has talked, rightly, about what a great guy Gwynn was. Wouldn't that have been a great transition, then, to link him with Jeter? You KNOW that The Vin would have done it, which helps explain why The Vin is The Vin and Joe Buck is ... barely the second best broadcaster in his family.

Dan Ball said...

Never heard of Devin Mesoraco?? He's not the Derek Jeter of catchers, but that's our lead catcher here in Reds country you haven't heard of there! :D

But seriously, he's really been stepping it up ever since the Reds traded his predecessor Hanigan to Miami. Now that we've got a promising skipper aboard who knows when to yank a pitcher before it's REALLY too late, the Redlegs might make it past the playoffs for once. We're not due as much as the Cubs, but I think 24 years without a championship's a qualifier for underdog status.

Matt said...

Friday question, even if it is about baseball.

I imagine you grew up a Dodgers fan. Has your time in the industry changed that? Now that you have worked for several teams are you more a fan of the sport than any particular team.

Also, do you still follow minor league ball?

benson said...

I don't get all the hate for Joe Buck. He's a network pbp guy. He has to play it down the middle.

Agree that Tony Gwynn should have been at least remembered.

The ball over the centerfielder's head early in the game made me think of Ken's friend, Jerry Coleman. "He hit his head on the wall. It's rolling back towards second base".

Jerry Coleman also should've been remembered.

Next commish: some low profile businessman, like the NBA's Adam Silver.

USA vs. World? Are there enough USA players to fill a roster?

Jim Freedman said...

Classless move not mentioning Gwynn, Zim, and Welch. Maybe they should have an "in memorium" presentation before each all star game, like they do at the award it with Idena belting out "Let it Go" in the background. It'll get the kids questioning things.

Phantom Dreamer said...


Tom Quigley said...

Here's how closely I've been following baseball over the last few years -- the Houston Astros are in the American League now?!

Anita Bonita said...

I've known Tom Verducci since he was a puppy at Newsday. He's always been not only knowledgeable, but also very articulate in sharing that knowledge. Good move.

Dan Ball said...

Tom Quigley:

Don't feel too bad. It's just been since last season.

The Cubs still haven't won a World Series since 1908 or been in one since '45, AKA the year Bud Selig discovered his love for evil. (He was 9.)

Mike Botula said...

Way to go, Kenny BABY! One of your best!

Chris said...

Friday question: do you remember Kenneth Peach? He was 80 when he worked as a director of photography for Cheers. How was that experience?

I assume you don't get many 80 year olds working on a sitcom set.

LAprGuy said...

The fact that FOX can give 20 seconds to Terry Crews to do 4-5 poses (which was ridiculous, although what else could he do sitting there with a camera on him) but not focus several cameras on the defensive changes was inexcusable. I'm sure MLB will have Gwynn and other tributes coming up in the post season.

Bugdun said...

I'm not sure they can fix the Home Run Derby, but a good place to start would be sending Chris Berman off into the sunset. His act is old. I liked him when I was a kid, but I liked Bozo when I was a kid, too.

Anonymous said...

Class is something that will never go out of style but Fox simply does not have it. Fox does certain things well but too often tries to cater to the casual fan (i.e., the glowing hockey puck). A good example of what Fox should try to do is ESPN and the World Cup -- it presented the sport as if those watching were the same ones watching the English Premier League (hence no Strahan explaining the differences between futbol and football). Rather than think our attention span is what happened in the last 30 seconds, or how do we shill for our prime time lineup or how alert we will be with flashy graphics, Fox should let the product do the talking. To not mention Tony Gwynn, to not show any highlights of his great career, or even a play from the 15 All Star games he played in is a sin. Does Fox actually think we could not remember who he was? History is what makes baseball baseball. Stats are interesting in football, but are god-like in baseball -- which is why the steroid era destroyed so much more than we realize. Fox is the steroid of television. I hope that says it all.

The Curmudgeon said...

I like the baseball posts, sir. But I don't understand your defense of Joe Buck. His shtick seems to be to try and tease as much controversy out of every play as possible. Tom Verducci is an upgrade over Tim McCarver. For that matter, Harold Reynolds is an upgrade. The batboy -- any batboy -- would have been an upgrade. If network TV wanted an old Cardinals catcher, why not use Bob Uecker? Sure, McCarver was a better catcher than Uecker -- but Uecker is entertaining as all get out.

You're certainly right about the neglect of Gwynn et al. They yammered so much about the past and the future. Jeter with the kid from the Reds when the kid was really a kid, in the Little League World Series was a cute bit. But it was overdone. Instead of repeating that over and over, how about mentioning some of the greats we've lost in the past year?

Jeter's retirement was grossly overdone. Yes, we get it. He's retiring. It was in all the papers. Solarity nailed the reason: Jeter is New York.

As a life-long Chicagoan and nearly life-long White Sox fan (I was really too little in 1959 to understand why the air raid sirens were going off), I hate the Yankees with every fiber of my being. (White Sox fans have it worse than Red Sox fans in this regard: At least the Yankees hate the Red Sox back. We're beneath the Yankees' notice....) But I've always kind of liked Jeter (and Girardi and Rivera). In fact one of reasons I can tolerate Jeter despite his pinstripes is that he, too, seems to be genuinely embarrassed by all this retirement nonsense.

As for Target Field -- it looks beautiful on TV. One of my daughters and her husband have visited and they say it looks just as nifty in person. But they have 81 home dates and maybe 60 days above freezing up there. I can't understand how they didn't build that place with a roof like Miller Park in Milwaukee.

DrBOP said...

It was especially striking to transition from the ESPN nearly 3-hour pre-game programming (where Gwynn, Zimmer, et al were featured quite often) into the FOX live broadcast. I was waiting for at least some references to them in the opening sequence to the program.....when nothing appeared, I knew it would be a long night.

Lorimartian said...

Glad to have an opportunity to remember Michael Jeter. So many memorable performances. Unforgettable in "The Fisher King." (Damn, I can never recall the title of that movie...always have to look it up.) Really miss him.

yatesy said...

I was in Baltimore for a standup show I was on and was watching the pregame show on Fox Sports earlier in the nite at the bar where the show was. As much as I hate Fox Sports, they talked a lot about Tony Gwynn during the pregame show, with interviews with all sorts of players (George Brett, Glavine and others) all during the show. Why they didn't do that on the national broadcast on Fox is beyond me.

Dodgerdog said...

I would like to see/ hear the broadcast team of Ken Levine and Bob Uecker for the next All Star Game, or really, for any baseball game.

Dad Solo said...

The 'best pitcher in baseball' did start the game. For the AL.

Marc Platt said...

Wainwright lobbed softballs and the other crappy Cardinal pitcher finished the deed. Puig was terrible, but his three mates did well.

Matheny was awful as a manager. I hope my Dodgers WRECK the Cards this weekend as a thank you for losing home field advantage in the World Series.

DwWashburn said...

I'm a huge baseball fan but have never liked the All Star game. And now that the two leagues are playing each other every day, it has even less appeal. When will the reign of Bud Selig end? That man has screwed up nearly everything he has touched.

Friday question - In a regular season game it seems like every time someone gets a base hit, the first baseman on the opposing team strikes up a conversation with him. They are usually smiling and it seems pleasant. What do this usually talk about?

DwWashburn said...

"They", not "This"

VP81955 said...

Here's all you need to know about the All-Star Game: The Texas Rangers, with the worst record in MLB, had two All-Stars (Yu Darvish and Adrian Beltre). The Washington Nationals, tied for the NL East lead (and technically ahead by a percentage point), had but one-- reliever Tyler Clippard, who pitched to two batters, got both out, then split the scene.

As a Nats and NL fan, I'm still ticked off at Mike Matheny for starting Adam Wainwright, and for Wainwright to grooving a pitch to leadoff batter Jeter. This wasn't Denny McLain lobbing one to Mickey Mantle after the Tigers already had clinched the '68 pennant; something was on the line here. (If it's any solace, barring a major turnaround, neither AL East evil empire will be able to take advantage of it. Heck, for the first time in the wild-card era, both the Yanks and Bosox may miss the postseason (hooray!).

As for the NL, there are eight teams fighting for five spots (though I expect the SF/LA loser to claim a wild-card berth after beating up on the Dbacks, Rox and Padres). Should be plenty of fun.

Finally, Ken, as I just moved to Los Angeles, might you be able to list the Dodgers' flagships sine '58? I know they began on KMPC, but switched to KFI after '60 because a team exec couldn't pick up the signal around Lake Arrowhead or Big Bear...a move that in turn led Gene Autry to seek radio rights for the new LA AL franchise. As we all know, he wound up with the team. (BTW, it just sounds weird hearing Vin on KLAC, aka "Fox Sports LA"; one thing Scully has never needed is "attitude.")

MikeN said...

Fox coverage is why we have the term 'Jeterate'. They all but broke into a 1918 chant when the Yankees scored a few runs off Pedro in Game 7 in 2004, after being down 8-1.

'Love Water, not Oil'
Is that a reference to hair care?
If it's about energy, it tends to be these guys who are using so much energy in the first place. One set of anti-fracking protesters in England ran out of diesel for their generator.

Cap'n Bob said...

Look at the bright side, gang. This is the beginning of the NON Tom McCarver era. That alone should be a reason for celebration.

Phantom Dreamer said...

Wait, there was a Tom McCarver era?

Simon H. said...

Friday question: Years ago I read an incredible, almost too crazy to believe story in the great Brandon Tartikoff's autobiography about the casting of Sam Malone. Specifically, that actor and future 24 President William DeVane was one of the finalists for the role and actually did his final audition by breaking and walking over broken glass on bare feet which either was too crazy for the producers at the time, or actually caused him to lose the role through physical injury. Do you or someone else know if this story has any element of truth to it whatsoever? I've been wondering this for years. Thanks

Tom said...

Re: managers using "their own guys." At least they don't let managers pick the entire substitution roster any more, when managers would fill almost the entire team with their guys. As I recall, Joe Torre was notorious (notorre-ous?) for doing that.

JoeyH said...

McCarver has been doing some local games in St. Louis this season. I am astonished at how good he has been on the broadcasts.

H Johnson said...

I grew up listening to Vin Scully every night. I moved away from SoCal to Hawaii years ago and could only enjoy him on occasional network broadcasts. Last year while working in Seattle I got the great idea of subscribing to and was able to catch nearly every Dodger TV broadcast that Vin Scully did. Man he is still the best. Life was awesome.

Back home in Hawaii I discovered that Major League Baseball has deemed the entire state of Hawaii as a "hometown" of the Dodgers and I am unable to watch any of the blacked out games. I can still listen to the first three innings of the radio broadcast to hear Vin. Awesome. I guess I should learn my lesson and commute to the games everyday.

It's enough to make you hate MLB and the douche running it. Bud Selig leaves his initials everywhere.

Mike Barer said...

I thought the All Star game was a hell of a lot more interesting when it didn't mean anything.

Lionheart said...

Menzel is our version of The Loudest Yodeler in the World. Impressive in a one-trick-pony way.

Charles H. Bryan said...

Loved the line about David Price. I don't know why it's so funny to me, but is. And hey, there's a player every year that could be fitted for that line. It's an evergreen!

I watched a bit on Fox while I listened on ESPN Radio. I mean, I don't hate Joe Buck, but it usually seems that, in his head, the game is there so that he can be on TV. I used to really like him. He should just be in the studio doing to pre- and post-game shows.

I think there was so much attention to Jeter because he's played for the same club for 20 years, a club that almost everyone hates but will say "Except for Jeter. He's all right." He also benefits from standing near A-Rod for so long, who makes everybody look great in comparison.

I'd rather that an In Memorium happen during the World Series. I'm not sure why, but the ASG doesn't seem right for it.

mike said...

If the 'milk it for all it's worth' retirement boys Saint Derek and Saint Mariano were as classy as they are made out to be, they would have quietly announced their retirements after the season and not ginned it up ad nauseum. Of course it's because they played in NYC, just as the Hall of Fame is super New York heavy. It's not always merit-based! And I like the rule that each team has to be represented, otherwise I wouldn't have seen Daniel Murphy of the New York Mets strike out to end the eighth with the tying runs on. And home field advantage? No. Four game series-two games in each park. No advantage there. Five game series? First two games in the 'winner's' park, next three in the 'loser's' park. Advantage--losing league. Six game series--three games apiece. No advantage there. Seven game series? Two-three-two. THERE'S your advantage! What a joke. Just stop pretending that it's anything but an exhibition where ridiculously buddy-buddy players cavort at half speed.

Tudor Queen said...

Great commentary - actually more consistently entertaining and thought-provoking than the game itself.

However, at the risk of getting banned, I have to say I absolutely love "the wickedly talented Adele Dazeem".

Anonymous said...

Joe Buck has adequate skills as an announcer, but where his dad Jack was revered in St. Louis, Joe is widely disliked in his own hometown for being one of those "born on third base and thinks he hit a triple" type of guys.
Jack was famous for being affable with fans and the other "little people" one encounters as a baseball announcer - waiters, cabbies, bellmen, clubhouse attendants, bartenders, etc - and was known a generous tipper. Joe has the reputation of being an arrogant, sour-faced cheapskate.
He is like his dad in one important respect, though, in that he cheated on his first wife, then dumped her for a younger woman.

chuckcd said...

A sweater? Bring a parka!

chuckcd said...

There was a tribute to Tony Gwynn in the pre-game show.