Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The All-Star Pregame Show...

Or, look, FOX is involved, so we must all be baffled by it!

The annual midsummer classic is underway in St. Louis, where they never boo anyone...oh, wait, did I hear them boo the Cubs' Ted Lilly? So then they're not immune to being jerks like the rest of us?!

They're just nice jerks.

Overall, nice job by St. Loo fans. They even gave nice ovations to Mo, Jeter, Tex, and Mr. Torre (who of course played in St. Louis but is better known for managing some New York team and is now in La-La Land). By the way, I think this is the first time that Joe and Derek have been on the same field since the end of 2007.

I love player intros, first pitch ceremonies, and such pomp and circumstance. Last year, at Yankee Stadium, they went a whole different route in the pregame - a very unique way of fusing the past and present. For a year, it was awesome. I was pleased to see them go back to the standard foul line routine, yet even FOX can mess this up.

Used to be, said PA announcer would intone, "please welcome the (YEAR) (LEAGUE) All-Stars", and said stars would trot out to their respective base line. That, of course, would take probably thirty or so seconds away from FOX...which is the length of one more commercial, or a promo for a dumb show starring Michael Strahan.

And why can't the house announcer be the PA? Have we just simply decided that it's Joe Buck's world? By the way, I have defended Mr. Buck in the past but it's become obvious that he wants to be Johnny Carson and Pat Summerall (or Jack Buck, of course) and broadcast the NFL. The TV network voice of baseball seems to be clearly telling us that he only wants to dabble in the national pastime. OK then, why not let Joe call a playoff series in the fall, move, say, Jon Miller in, take Dan Shulman off the radio call of baseball, and slide me into the radio booth?

Just trying to do right by the country, that's all.

I wrote the following on Facebook tonight, after some careful consideration.
Rob Adams will be the dissenting vote. Baseball probably tried too hard tonight (though the President's first pitch was fine).
I'm sure all the PC'ers are ticked with me now. "HEY! How can you say that? That video montage was bee-yoot-iful!"

(excuse me while I try not to laugh)

Look, it was nice. I like the effort of MLB Go Beyond, to recognize volunteerism and such, but I thought the whole thing seemed contrived.

Remember Fenway Park, 1999? I do, and it was awesome - the outpouring of support for Ted Williams, riding in on a golf cart, and the players' spontaneous reaction to seeing him. Loved it. That's baseball, kids.

Last year, Yankee Stadium. The old players and the current. The past and the present. What wasn't to like?

But this, with the video, the Presidents, the heroes on the field and then the players coming to meet them...it all seemed so..something.


Of course, FOX then cut to commercial (gotta pay those bills in this economy). Maybe that set me off.

Now, back to reality. Sheryl Crow (did she really do the National Anthem two years in a row?) was great, and rather, how shall I say this?...fetching.

Then the cool part, with Cards legends Bruce Sutter, Bob Gibson, Ozzie Smith, Lou Brock (ouch, Cubs fans), and Red Schoendienst on the field. Then the really cool moment, as Stan Musial rode in on a special cart (complete with Cardinals logo), and gave the first-pitch ball off to President Barack Obama.

Oh, before we get to the President. Did anyone else notice that the Cardinals' legends weren't wearing identical red blazers? I mean, what was the point?

This, friends, is not a political moment. It was cool.

The President was just your casual, average baseball fan, in jeans, sneakers (or tennis shoes, your choice) and...gasp...a White Sox jacket.

Good thing it wasn't a Cubs jacket. Could have been a problem.

The President strode to the mound, with all the cool, cockiness, and joy of an excited kid, and fired...

A strike? A ball? To the screen? Who knows, because FOX blew the shot!

For the love of the game!

So baseball tried too hard. It's all good. We play ball and the President goes to the booth to kibitz with Joe Buck and Tim McCarver (which was also kind of fun). Buck asked the Pres to stay and he kind of said "no" in a nice, Midwestern-sort of way.

And Sean watched the ceremonies with me, along with the start of the game. Why? Because it's baseball, and it screams "father-son moment." For the record, he booed the Mets and Sox players, and cheered wildly for the Yankees.

It's cool here in New York, yet it's All-Star Tuesday night. Go figure.

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