As has become custom, I settled down just a few minutes after first pitch to watch Tuesday’s MLB All Star Game. I was pretty sure it was on Fox and first pitch was in the 8:30 EDT range. Our program guide even said that the ASG was to air at that time. Instead, though, the MLB Tribute To Derek Jeter Starring New York Yankees Captain And World Champion Derek Jeter (with the 2014 National League And American League All Stars) was on.
I crack myself up.
But seeeeeeeriously. That was a bit much. I know, I know, great player, great guy, sure-fire Hall of Famer, the face of baseball since 1998 or so. Played for the game’s iconic franchise his entire career. Involved in two of the most memorable plays of the last 20 years. Blah blah blah. I don’t know if every aspect of the game had to be somehow connected to Jeter.
That slobber job was much of the reason I on half-watched after about the fourth inning. I’ve been hearing about Jeter for nearly 20 years. I didn’t need to pay close attention if that’s all the broadcast was going to be about.
He did handle it well, though, trying to speed things along. He’s always seemed like a decent guy. Still don’t like him.
But I did scribble down some notes during the game. Let’s take a look at what caught my attention.
- OK, for all my Jeter hate, the Jordan Brand commercial for him was pretty great. The Red Sox fans in the middle were a fun addition.
- Loved, LOVED, the guy who was screaming “OVERRATED” at Jeter and then he rips the double down the line. That’s why so many of us dislike Jeter: he always has an answer! He’s not human!
- Aramis Ramirez has 2119 career hits? Shows how little attention I pay to National League ball. I had no idea he had racked that many up. That’s a pretty solid career.
- I was disappointed that, during the interview with commissioner Bud Selig, when he was asked about it being his final All Star Game as commissioner, he didn’t offer an evil laugh and say, “Wellllllll, don’t be so sure about that…”
- I about came unglued when Tom Verducci insisted that Jeter has inspired more future ballplayers than any player ever. There’s no doubt he has influenced tons of kids. But what about Mickey Fucking Mantle? Didn’t every play for like 30 years say that he was their favorite player growing up? Or that he was their dad’s favorite player and that inspired their dad to coach them up as kids? Didn’t baby boomers make sappy homages to the Mick when they hit middle age? But then Harold Reynolds, amazingly, made a fine point. He mentioned Mantle but gave Jeter the nod because of the age he played in, where every game is on TV, where the Yankees are constantly on national TV, and when he played in the World Series a ton. Kids heard about Mickey. They got to see Jeter in high definition for most of his career. A pretty fine and fair point. I was swayed.
- It was excellent that the Oakland Athletics got a little love during the night. I really should try to watch some of their games in the second half. They seem like a fun team to see play. And it’s great that they’re mirroring the classic 1970s A’s teams that were full of personalities and wacky appearances.
- I could not help but compare/contrast the interviewing techniques of the two Fox on-field reporters. Ken Rosenthal’s first question sequence is always the same. Two quick observations followed but a brief question. “You’ve won two World Series titles. An MVP. award How did tonight compare?” Erin Andrews, on the other hand, always seems like a mess. She’ll ramble on for a bit then realize she has to ask a question. “…I mean, what’s up with all that?”1 Sad thing is because her style is so prevalent these days, it’s not like it gets poorer responses than Rosenthal’s.
- I always wonder about the troops overseas they show during sporting events. Are they allowed to move during the game? If they sneak off to the bathroom does someone yell at them, “Hey! Sit down! Fox could show us any minute!” And, as with all patriotic moments like that, I wonder what the really point is. In the midst of a three-hour tribute to an incredibly rich athlete interrupted by constant reminders to buy more beer and high tech gadgets, don’t these 2-3 shots of troops kind of lose their impact?
- Minnesota has a rich and varied music history. So naturally MLB picked a Broadway singer from Queens and a country singer from Arkansas to sing the National Anthem and “God Bless America,” respectively. Which is exactly what I think of when I think of Minnesota music, Broadway and country. Sigh. I know, you probably don’t want Bob Dylan or Prince singing either song. And Craig Finn, Bob Mould, and Paul Westerberg are probably too nichey to include. I bet Morris Day could have pulled it off, though.
- Fox missed a golden opportunity to throw some local music in when the Adam Wainwright “controversy” broke. After Andrews interviewed Wainwright to clarify his comments about grooving one to Jeter in the first inning, Fox really should have used Prince’s “Controversy” as the bumper music into the next commercial. I would have nodded and given my full approval.
- Dumb controversy. So what if Wainwright threw a cookie to Jeter? The old man still had to hit it. I don’t think there was really a controversy. It was just something to talk about. And Andrews’ dismissive “Don’t you just love social media?” comment was stupid. Especially coming from a social media phenomenon. When in doubt, blame the bloggers and the tweeters.
- Target looks like a nice ballpark. Joe Buck certainly praised it all night, but that’s kind of his job. It got me thinking about how many “bad” ballparks are left compared to 25 years ago, when Skydome opened up the new ballpark era. Back then there was still an abundance of cookie cutter, multi-purpose, AstroTurfed parks that looked alike and were kind of terrible. There were still plenty of other stadiums that weren’t built solely for baseball. And there were several stadiums that were actively falling apart. Today, you have the Coliseum in Oakland, which was old in 1989 and an absolute dump today, Tropicana in Tampa which is an embarrassment, and maybe U.S. Cellular in Chicago which isn’t that old but wasn’t built to be beautiful like the parks that came along shortly after it. Skydome, ironically, seems kind of plain today. Every other team either plays in a relatively new or renovated stadium that is in solid shape and seems like a decent place to go watch a game.
- Oh, and good job American League!
- To be clear, I’m not bashing her. She used to be better. She hasn’t seemed as prepared in recent years, though. ↩