Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My review of the All-Star Game

The Rally Monkey is off their back. In Angel Stadium, home of Rally Monkeys, thunder sticks, Splash Mountain fountains and other features that just wreak with baseball tradition, the National League beat the American League 3-1 for the first time since 1996. How long ago was that? The Ozone Layer was still fine. Blur was a big hit group. ALMOST PERFECT was even still on the air.

But it was the big Midsummer Classic – a chance to see the best second-tier players in all of baseball after most of the real All-Stars canceled due to injury or disqualification.

Utility man Omar Infante of the Braves made it even though he’s not good enough to start on his own team. And since every club must have at least one representative we saw Michael Bourn of the Astros, hitting a stout .255 with one home run.

Meanwhile, the only player the American League didn’t use was Alex Rodriguez. Huh???

Having one player from every team was fine when you never saw these guys. But now every game of every team is on TV, your computer, and your phone. Plus, there are now 30 teams, not 16 like the old days. It’s especially tough for the American League since they also have to work in the obligatory ten Yankees and ten Red Sox.

The big story of the night of course was the passing of George Steinbrenner. Even in death "the Boss" knew how to grab the headlines. So we were treated to florid tributes of this man who did so much for baseball he was banned from the game twice. What he was was a brilliant businessman. He bought the Yankees in 1973 for $8.7 million and now with the combination of the club and the YES network its value is close to $3.2 billion. I wish he had bought America instead in 1973.

The host Angels can call themselves “Los Angeles” all they want. As Fox announcer Joe Buck said repeatedly, the game was played in Anaheim. There’s a difference. It’s like George Lazenby calling himself James Bond.

Now that the All-Star game COUNTS I noticed a much greater intensity on the part of the Kansas City Royal and Pittsburgh Pirate players for that coveted home field advantage in the World Series.

In the pre-game show, wasn’t that “All-Stars Among Us” feature lovely and touching? Okay, be honest. You fast-forwarded through it, didn’t you? Yeah, so did I. But I would have been moved I’m sure.

Monday was the annual Home Run Derby. I never know how that works. The rules seem to change during the competition. Some guy could hit 30 in a row and lose. Maybe they explain it but truthfully, I never watch. Why? Chris Berman. He’s the ooga horn of sportscasters.

Glad that Big Papi won. His acknowledgment of the late Jose Lima was a classy gesture.

More people watch the Home Run Derby than divisional playoff games (this is true).

Best home run derby moment was a few years ago when Barry Bonds stepped up to the plate and the Astros bullpen catcher signaled for an intentional walk.

Amber Riley from GLEE sang some improvisational power ballad that vaguely resembled the National Anthem.

Nice to see Rod Carew throw out the first pitch; probably the only Jew the Angels ever had.

As usual, Joe Buck did a fine job. But Tim McCarver? First of all, why do you even need an analyst on an All-Star game? It’s not like there’s any strategy in these affairs. No one has bunted since 1946. So what we’re left with is incessant yammering about nothing and vital statistics like Guerrero “has the most RBI’s and home runs for any player who changed teams”. WOW!!!!

Kudos to Atlanta’s Brian McCann, named the MVP for his bases-clearing game-winning double. Chris Rose from Fox handled the postgame interviews and proved to be as good at it and prepared as Melissa Rivers at the Oscars. Chris to Brian McCann: “So in 1996 you were like three. What do you remember about that game?” A) What three-year-old remembers an All-Star game? and B) McCann said he was eight. Undaunted, Melissa asked him where his big hit ranks in his career? What’s the answer to that? Ninth. No wait, eleventh. Fortunately, they cut away before Ms. Rivers could ask if he still bit his nails?

Fox is so committed to baseball they ran a promo proclaiming, “It’s time to get back to FOOTBALL – The NFL on Fox”.

Does anybody in their right mind keep score of an All-Star game?

I love Derek Jeter. In tribute to Bob Sheppard, the longtime Yankees P.A. announcer who passed away Sunday at 99, he used Sheppard’s introduction of him whenever he came to bat. And will continue to for the rest of his career. Unlike “the Boss”, when you say wonderful things about Bob Sheppard, you mean them.

The All-Star game is the only time a member of the San Diego Padres is ever on national television… even though they’re leading their division.

For the first five innings I thought I was watching the World Cup. 0-0. Zzzzzz.

How utterly insipid was that “Head, shoulders, knees, and toes” feature Fox ran when Vladimir Guerrero was up at bat? This is the fucking All-Star Game, not DORA THE EXPLORER!

Here's what I'd REALLY like to see in an All-Star game -- a benches clearing brawl. Would guys get suspended from future All-Star games? Would Yankees and Red Sox start wailing on each other even though they're on the same team?

Some real “Diamond Gems”. A terrific diving catch by Ryan Braun (who statistically is an even worse outfielder than Manny Ramirez and he ranks below Betty White), and a heads-up play by Marlon Byrd to turn a single into a force out in the 9th inning.

At least there is defense in a baseball All-Star game. Were it played like its NBA counterpart (or in Colorado) the final score would be 69-58.

During one commercial break Fox segued from an ad for Walt Disney into one for Las Vegas.

The All-Star Game is a lot like the Academy Awards. It never lives up to the hype, you don’t recognize half the stars, the interviews are inane, and it’s usually too long, but every year you gotta be there. See you next summer in Arizona (unless they move it because of Senate Bill 1070. Or, like the Angels, they can play the game in San Francisco and just say it's Arizona.)

Photos compliments of the L.A. TIMES.


yatesy said...

Joe Buck is seriously a scourge on baseball, organized sports and professional announcing. The only reason he even has a job is because of his father (who is probably rolling over in his cardinals logo embossed casket anyway). He has even said that he finds baseball boring, which makes me wonder why he even does it. Oh, right, because he has some kind of blackmail material on someone in the higherups at Fox to keep him in a cushy job.

Seriously, the guy has no impartiality in him. When the Giants won the Superbowl, he was outwardly rooting for the other team (and I say this as a Giants Hater). When the Phillies won the World Series, he was outwardly disappointed with his very flat "and the Phillies win the World Series". Like he was so disappointed that he was going to go have a beer and drown his disappointment. Nevermind that the last game was split in half because of our dipshit commissioner, or that it was the first WS win since 1980 (I had waited forever, I was in kindergarten in '80!). And you know, if Tampa Bay had won, I'd want him to be excited announcing it for them as well.

Along with being smug and a jackass, he is the worst announcer out there, and teaming him with McCarver is a big reason why people don't watch baseball on Fox.

I say be a homer if you are the guy attached to a certain team, but as a national broadcaster, be impartial and don't be a jerk.

Craig said...

How ironic to have a moment of "silence" for George Steinbrenner.

Mike Barer said...

The revisionist are saying that they wish Steinbrenner had bought the Seattle Mariners. Steinbrenner would have moved them to Tampa quicker than you could blink.

Not George Lazenby said...

George Lazenby is Bond. Or at least the only Bond with anything remotely resembling a dramatic arc.

Baseball question for you: How many Montreal Expos will end up in the HoF (as Expos)? Already have Carter and Dawson; Raines should be next, and then who else? Guerrero?

Michael said...

I will dispute Yatesy this far by paraphrasing something Skip Caray said about his career: Joe Buck may have gotten into the business because of his father, but all of his father's help wouldn't have enabled him to keep his job. Also, I don't think Buck roots openly for anyone but the Cardinals (I could hear it in his voice when he talked about Pujols)--it's that I don't think he cares. He has indeed said he finds baseball boring, and he's more interested in finding cutesy things to say on his own or with McCarver. In fact, the team of Buck and McCarver is a key reason that I don't watch a major Fox baseball telecast unless the Dodgers are involved. So, in terms of his being a smug jackass, I am totally with Yatesy. Fox thinks it's winning with someone younger and "hip" because Fox still has no love or affinity for baseball.

I would like to echo Ken's praise for Derek Jeter. His request demonstrates his appreciation for the history of his sport and team, and his class. I also would say that the Yankees owner was, like most of us, a complicated person--not just a mere caricature. But I would like to invoke Red Smith (and even throw in that his full name was Walter Wellesley Smith, and his editor once said Red was the greatest sportswriter ever to have two women's colleges in his name), who used to refer to George Michael Steinbrenner III by a shorter moniker: George III. For a history major like me, that said it all.

David said...

In Joe Torre's interview about his former owner (on Countdown with Keith), he made the most telling comment of all.

Dan Serafini said...

I would describe Joe Buck as he once famously said (before doing Budweiser ads and a really BAD talk show on HBO), "that was disgusting and I am sorry you had to see that."

And, c'mon, make Byrd at least the co-MVP: FOX couldn't stop showing him and his smarts and hustle. Lets not forget the big walk he drew (if such things can be big in an ASG).

Game 7 at Wrigley!

DJ said...

Game 7 at Wrigley!

In 2110, perhaps

LAprGuy said...

Joe Buck is not a great sports announcer, but he does a very good job in filling three hours (or more) of airtime, and as proof of that, one need only listen to some home team 'casts on MLB Extra Innings or football radiocasts. FOX asks him to do 3-1/2 hours of exhibition (preseason) football, and I dare say he does a fine job.

Would I prefer someone else do baseball? Absolutely. But short of Jon Miller (and Vin), I don't know there's anyone else out there.

Having a better broadcast partner or partners would help Joe immensely.

Really disappointed in the Glee actresses performance last night. I know that she's not the best singer on the cast, but if FOX wanted to promote the show, she might not have been the best of the second tier choices. I understand why they chose her, but wonder if they aren't rethinking that decision this morning.

Joe Buck is on with the Sklar Brothers right now. It's hard not to like him.

Anonymous said...

I think some vuvuzelas would have helped.

blogward said...

I can't read this - it's all in American!

WV = equall - a bit more equal.

mk said...

I definitely don't care for Joe Buck, but I'm kinda surprised to see all this hate for him and only tangential hate for McCarver. McCarver just randomly says things that he feels like saying at the time and pretends that there's some sort of evidence for them. And usually they're idiotic.

Please let Costas or Jon Miller do national games. And no Joe Morgan.

Tom Quigley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tom Quigley said...

I always thought the best way to deal with Tim McCarver would be to put him in a locked room with Dan Dierdorf and Bill Walton and see which one of them could talk the other two to death with his inane chatter. I might add Joe Buck to that mix, if only to see if he could make the other three yawn each other to death...

No doubt Joe Girardi was thinking to the future when he held A-Rod out last night, in order to allow him to rest up for that critical series against the Royals next week...

I imagine the short moment of silence in tribute to George Steinbrenner required the MLB honchos to rethink their pre-game ceremonies which might have been more appropriately tailored to the particular character of SoCal... For instance, instead of having a formation of F/A-18s fly over the stadium before the game, they might have had a fleet of jets owned by a Colombian drug cartel loaded with nose candy zip through the sky just as the crowd was settling back into its seats -- which naturally would have brought them right to their feet again... And instead of fireworks, every home run that was hit would automatically trigger a high-speed police chase on the 57 freeway...

BTW, Ken, your blog today made the front page of the Huffpost...

Somersby said...

Hi Ken~ I have a Friday question. The passing of George Steinbrenner got me thinking about the great fun the Seinfeld writers had caricaturing him. I'm wondering what kind of permission or release is required, if any, to incorporate real-life characters into a sitcom. In the Seinfeld case, I suspect the writers would have needed permission from the Yankees organization to use their name, logo, etc. But would the same be true for an individual like Mr. Steinbrenner?

Anonymous said...

Just let Joe Buck do the whole thing on his own. Ken Rosenthal seems like he’s about to wet his pants in fear of being on camera and Chris Rose, with his under rehearsed spontaneity (I know, but if he were any good spontaneity would come without rehearsal) is just plain annoying. Geez I’d rather hear Ross Porter with the minor league report.


Anonymous said...

Things we should get rid of: All Star Games, especially on Fox TV, along with "exhibition" games, indoor football and baseball stadiums, astro turf and soccer on Amercian TV.

cb said...

Good baseball announcers take us through the inherent narrative each baseball game uniquely provides. Bad baseball announcers force their over prepared narrative onto the game. Buck and McCarver are the standard bearers for the latter. Witness their yacking over a stolen base during last night's game among countless other examples.

As for Steinbrenner/ Seinfeld, read today's Maureen Dowd column in the NYTimes - the increasingly insufferable MoDo.

Cap'n Bob said...

I loved Chris "Keep the Home Fires" Berman as a sports reporter on ESPN and some of his player nicknames are priceless. Can't stand Buck and McCarver. I can't believe Fox can't find two announcers in the entire US better than the jackasses they use now.

just some guy trying to write said...

Hey Ken,

If I want to ask a question, should I just do it here? I suppose that, in itself, is a question. so here's another -- can you talk more about the specifics of the business relationship between you and your writing partner? Stuff like, if you write and sell a script on your own, do you share in the profits with him?


Gary said...

I thought I was the only one who finds Berman insufferable. True, he came up w/some good nicknames, but that's it. Were A-Rod and Girardi feuding? Will they be feuding tomorrow? One can only hope. What's with Votto? He can't check his mad-dog at the door for an All-star game, he has to continue to hate all Cubs? What a 2-bit, classless piece of garbage he is. I'd gladly boycott any future TV games that includes the Reds, but there aren't any, are there? They may be in 1st place - that's a mirage - but nobody wants to watch them (outside of Cincinnati).

Ray said...

I agree Vin and Jon Miller are the best. Buck is OK, but somebody needs to get McCarver to retire.. like twenty years ago.

Did anyone else notice the audio and visual weren't in synch the last half of the game on Fox? Hard to enjoy the game with that.

Mr. Snrub said...

I watch every single interview with an athlete through my fingers, wincing with each question. Especially if it's done 'in the moment'.

It can be as gut-wrenchingly uncomfortable as Samantha Harris interviewing...well..anyone.

Usually, the athlete will try to sound intelligent by starting his sentence with "I'll tell ya' what.."

or he'll make an attempt at being funny - then, without getting ANY laughs, segue with a "...but, uh, no, ya' know..." - and then actually answer the question with the usual patter.

and, MK...

Joe Buck is hated more because McCarver, despite being irrelevant, doesn't think he's better than the game he's covering.

Ray said...

What year was this? Any year...

"I really think I can help this ballclub."

"All we can do is take one game at a time."

"We'll just go out and play and see what happens."

John Allen Hill said...

You could change Buck and fans would still hate who's in there. There's maybe two broadcasters that come along every 50 years that everyone universally likes. If Fox listened to the fans, they'd be firing broadcasters every week. Buck is ok, just sounds likes like he's on quaaludes; McCarver finalized his geezer status as a sagging drone who needs to go. A southern drawl warbling through endless statistics ain't a good combination.

Steinbrennar thing is a catch-22. If Fox made no acknowledgement of it, they'd be ripped. If they make one at all, the George haters will piss on it. So goes life. I could care less about 'brennar but he re-defined the sports franchise and was a part of baseball. Give 'em two minutes.

Red carpet/athlete interviews are the most irrelevant thing in media, yet they're still around. Here, let's ask some out of breath player how he feels about that game-winning hit. Let's ask this actress who she's wearing. Put yourself in the spot of the hapless interviewer trying to ask something beyond that. It's easy to look stupid.