Earlier today, FOX Sports conducted a press call to preview Major League Baseball’s upcoming All-Star Game LIVE from Citi Field this Tuesday, July 16 (7:30 PM ET). FOX Sports Co-President Eric Shanks and Executive Vice President, Production, John Entz were joined by All-Star Game play-by-play announcer Joe Buck and All-Star Game analyst Tim McCarver to discuss FOX Sports’ coverage of the Mid-Summer Classic.
Transcribed below are highlights from today’s press call.
McCarver and Buck on whether the American League or National League has an advantage going into Tuesday night’s game.
McCarver: “If either side has an advantage it’s the National League because they have seven left-handed pitchers and the American League only has three. Having that many left-handers can allow manager Bruce Bochy to go one-on-one with certain left-handed hitters late in the game, and that is an advantage.”
Buck: “Like the last handful of years, the American League lineup on paper is better than the National League’s, but that hasn’t mattered the last few years. It goes back to who has the off night on the mound.”
McCarver on the Braves’ Freddie Freeman and the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig: “A guy like Freddie Freeman is more deserving because he played the whole first half and didn’t come up as late as June 3rd. We had a chance to experience the impact, the electricity and buzz that Yasiel Puig presents in a game. He’s a fascinating baseball player with as much talent, at first glance, as anybody in recent years. While he has All-Star Game appearances in his future, there are others that are more worthy strictly for one reason; they have the whole first half and not just five weeks.”
Buck on Puig: “He’s an electrifying, ‘don’t get something to drink, don’t leave your seat’ kind of player. Baseball needs more and more of those and when you get them you have to hang onto them for dear life. Puig would add a lot to this game as Stephen Strausburg could have a couple of years ago. There is room for someone that fans want to see. That’s the only reason I go down that path. Whether it’s 90 at-bats or 140 at-bats, where do you draw the line? It seems to be splitting hairs. Just give me the guy that people want to watch play.”
Shanks on whether FOX Sports is hoping for Puig to be in the game: “It would be exciting if one of the hottest players in the league, a player fans want to see, and a player many haven’t seen outside of highlights was in the game. It’s an exciting story. We’re in a business of eyeballs and delivering stories. It would be fun if he got in, it might add a few more eyeballs but at the same time, outside of talking about the race of the fan voting, there isn’t a particular push one way or another.”
Shanks on the strength of the All-Star Game and FOX Sports’ overall baseball business: “The Mid-Summer Classic is still a jewel event. At FOX Sports, we look at it as a part of our total baseball business. We still have a healthy local baseball business and very strong demand for our national business and strong demand for the All-Star Game. When you put it in context among all of the entertainment choices out there, this is the top end of the summer. Not just the All-Star Game, but baseball itself. The national game of the week on Saturday nights is winning the night against all networks. I feel that it’s very healthy.”
Entz on production enhancements for this year’s All-Star Game: “We’re very excited to be using the Phantom Cams that went over so well in last year’s postseason and we’re expecting to get some phenomenal shots from those in addition to the usual audio and camera supplements we have for the All-Star Game.”
McCarver discusses technical advancements in baseball coverage over his distinguished broadcasting career: “Sounds of the Game, more than any other element, is what FOX has brought to the coverage of Major League Baseball. Microphones on the bases, umpires and everywhere else you can imagine over the last 18 years since we’ve been doing the All-Star Game, is the biggest and best evolution in the coverage of the game. It’s how the game is heard as much as how the game is seen.”
Buck on fans reactions to new stars in Major League Baseball: “Four guys are in this game that are 21 years old or younger. Manny Machado is a kid, and on a national level Manny Machado isn’t well known yet he’s one of the best players in the game. We’ve had a bit of a changing of the guard and it’s going to take a little while for national audiences to know who these guys are and to get excited to watch them play in a game that doesn’t maybe affect their team locally. This is what makes it exciting for Tim and I, that we get to cover new blood and we get to tell stories about guys that are some of the best athletes we’ve seen come along to play this game.”
McCarver discusses Mets pitcher and potential National League All-Star starting pitcher Matt Harvey forgoing Saturday’s start to rest in anticipation of Tuesday night’s game: “Usually it’s the other way around for a pitcher, if a pitcher is scheduled to start the All Star Game then they bow out and say ‘Well I’m pitching on either Saturday or Sunday and I’ve got to be ready for my start on the following Friday or Saturday because the season is much more important than the All-Star Game.’ Harvey is doing it the other way. He’s missing a start during the season on Saturday because he has blister problems and in order to be able to potentially start Tuesday night. That’s refreshing. It’s the right thing to do because that franchise really needs a lift like the one Harvey has given them through the first half and could certainly give them in the All-Star Game.”
McCarver & Buck give their favorite All-Star Game memories.
McCarver as a player: “The team in 1966 had Willie Mays, Roberto Clemente and Hank Aaron hitting one through three in the lineup and Sandy Kofax pitching in his last All-Star Game start. Tony Perez won the 15-inning game in 1967 and Tom Seaver finished it. I faced Tom Seaver for about 13 years after that game and I don’t think I ever saw him throw any harder. He was young, strong as a bull and my hand hurt for about two weeks after that. That’s a fact.“
McCarver as a broadcaster: “The 15-inning game in Yankee Stadium to send the Grand Old Lady on her way in 2008 was just a tremendous game, the longest game in All-Star Game history. We were on the edge of our seats, as I’m sure a lot of fans were throughout. That game as a whole stands out to me because of the venue. The old Yankee Stadium. That game was the most enjoyable and the longest of all our games. It sure didn’t seem like the longest as it was so exciting.”
Buck on the 1999 All-Star Game in Boston: “The Ted Williams moment at Fenway Park. Both Tim and I were stranding in the booth as Ted Williams was making his way around the warning track and in the strongest motion took the cap off of his head and lifted it up to the fans. Our producer was telling me to talk and I couldn’t speak. I was so choked up. Thank god I didn’t because Tim and I would’ve ruined the moment. It was so powerful and to also be quiet and let the natural audio of Ted Williams talking to Tony Gwynn and Mark McGuire and the other guys who just naturally congregated around him. That happened organically and we stayed with it. We were supposed to go to a commercial break and it was one of the great calls by a great producer in Mike Weisman to stay with that moment. Had we gone to commercial that moment after the ceremonial first pitch would have been on replay but instead we got it live.”
McCarver on ’99: “I think that emotion then carried through to the game as Pedro Martinez started that game and struck of five of the six hitters he faced. It was a phenomenal performance on a phenomenal night.”