So much to write about, so little time, but it will all have to wait until the All-Star break edition of the Hit List is finished…
• I planned to give this more of a buildup, but like the song goes, time won’t let me. I’m boycotting the All-Star Game and have been all season: no voting, no roster-checking, no selection debates either here or in the Hit List, no Home Run Derby, no Futures Game, no links, no nothing. To hell with it. Beyond this mention, the closest I’ll get is mentioning the All-Star break and related performance splits at the Hit List.
The reason I’m boycotting it is because of Fox, whose shoddy treatment of the game last year infuriated me while helping the game slide towards complete irrelevance. The most egregious offense:
…I did see the travesty that took place in the bottom of the third, when Joe Buck and Tim McCarver — without a trace of guile in their voices — gave airtime to a large Corvette advertisement hanging in the outfield as if it were the handmade work of some fan. “Welcome back to Detroit,” remarked Buck. “A lot of banners and signs around the ballpark. No surprise there. Somebody just unfurled a big banner behind left field.”
Uh-huh. Of course, this was a premeditated advertising opportunity of which Buck and McCarver were fully aware. “Buck might have been saying that tongue in cheek,” Fox Sports spokesman Dan Bell told The Register, a UK tech publication which carries syndicated news feeds. “For sure, it was planned. It’s not like we didn’t know about it. Both parties knew about it.” As the Register‘s Ashlee Vance reported:
Buck certainly did not sound “tongue in cheek” to us at all. Both he and McCarver sat there debating the sign like marketing automatons, wondering if it was real and how much time some true fan of baseball spent hammering it out. They most certainly wanted all the saps watching to believe in the sign’s authenticity and go hunting for this mysterious website. “Yet another Chevy ad” probably would not have worked as well.
Blech. If you listened carefully enough, you could hear Jack Buck, Joe’s Hall of Fame-honored father, spinning in his grave. His son has long since barreled through any line between reportage and corporate prostitution via the Budweiser “Leon” commercials. Now he’s added to that distasteful legacy.
Look, I realize this isn’t first-degree murder, or even all that surprising; I expect no better from Fox with all of its tacky lasers and sound effects and the entire network’s complete abdication of journalistic integrity. Baseball and advertising have gone hand in hand since the early days of radio. But it’s one thing for a radio announcer to read promos between innings, quite another for a pair of TV announcers to pass themselves off as innocents as they shill. So it’s with more than a little glee that I note that Fox’s broadcast set a new ratings low for the second year in a row. The people have spoken, and no sir, they don’t like what Fox does to the game. As [Salon’s King] Kaufman put it, baseball fans “get slapped every time they try to tune in to Fox, the network with a contract to broadcast the biggest events of a sport it hates…”
Enough is enough, so I’ve decided to give the All-Star Game the Star Wars treatment, at least for one year: I wash my hands of the entire franchise. I won’t watch next year’s game, I won’t write about it, I won’t vote, and I won’t give a shit who makes the team. To Fox Sports, Buck and McCarver and anyone else involved in this charade, I say, “This time it’s FUCK YOU.”
• I had a blast on the rest of my west coast trip, remaining in Seattle for three more days after the SABR convention, then heading down to LA. Anyone waiting for the final piece of my SABR writeup should check out the work a couple of my Baseball Prospectus colleagues. Dan Fox did a very nice job of summarizing a handful of the presentations we both saw, some of which I covered from Thursday, some of which will go in my belated Saturday wrapup. Here’s Part 1, covering the Chris Jaffe and Sean Forman presentations (the latter of which won the Doug Pappas Research award as the convention’s best presentation. Part 2 covers the Jeff Angus, Vince Genarro and Jonah Keri presentions. Dan’s also got more of a day-by-day at his blog: 1, 2, even more 2, more 3, and finally 4. Maury Brown has a nice multimedia presentation over at his blog, featuring photos, audio interviews.
I’m not sure how much I’ll have left to say about SABR beyond those, but all in due time…
• On the day of July 4, my aunt Kim was scheduled to attend a game with Sharon Hargrove, wife of Seattle Mariners manager Mike Hargrove. They know each other via my uncle Harold, who is the Diamond Club Concierge Captain at Safeco Field, his post-retirement job where he gets to hobnob with the high rollers. Kim had some amusing stories about Ms. Hargrove she shared over dinner, while Unca Harold brought me a goodie bag that included M’s programs, Ichiro and Richie Sexson bobbleheads, some baseball cards (including a Topps Felix Hernandez that might fetch a pretty penny some day), and a calendar. Good stuff!
• Dodger Stadium — wow!!! My first trip there after nearly 30 years of being a baseball fan, catching Friday night and Saturday games against the Giants. Still trying to process it all, but I’ll say this: Dodger Stadium kicks Yankee Stadium’s ass based merely on two features: grilled hot dogs (mmm, Dodger Dogs), and Vin Scully’s broadcasts piped into the restroom so you won’t miss out on the action. I’ll have a thorough writeup and some pics (not of the restroom, fortunately) soon.
• Great article about one of the original Futility Infielders in today’s New York Times, Wayne Terwilliger. The 81-year-old “Twig,” in his 57th year in baseball, is coaching first base for the Fort Worth Cats of the independent Central Baseball League, and he’s now sporting some bling. Twig has been a feature in two of my favorite baseball books; his card adorns The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading, and Bubble Gum Book, by Brendan C. Boyd and Fred C. Harris, and he’s a coach of the St. Paul Saints in Slouching Towards Fargo, by Neal Karlen. He also was a coach on the Twins’ two World Championship teams. Apparently he’s got a memoir out, Terwilliger Bunts One. Like white on rice, I’m on it.
Hit List, here I come…