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FOX All-Star broadcasters ready
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07/13/2004  7:24 AM ET
FOX All-Star broadcasters ready
McCarver, Buck and others gear up for big game
tickets for any Major League Baseball game
Tim McCarver, broadcasting his 13th All-Star Game, was a two-time All-Star himself. (Kathy Willens/

HOUSTON -- When he takes the FOX broadcast booth at 8 p.m. ET for the first pitch, Tim McCarver will tie Curt Gowdy and Joe Garagiola for the most All-Star Game telecasts with 13. Think about those names, and a baseball fan is swept into Midsummer Classic nostalgia, back to the days of Aaron, Rose, Garvey and Brett.

The best part of it all, McCarver says, is knowing that his latest All-Star work is starting to feel like some of that early work again.

"The key to the [2003] game was strategy, and whenever in the past you talked about strategy, strategy wasn't used in the All-Star Game," McCarver said during a recent conference call with broadcast partner Joe Buck and FOX Sports president Ed Goren. "Last year, in our 15-minute meeting with [AL manager Mike] Scioscia before the game, he told us what he was going to do and he did it. And it held through. You don't know that's going to happen this year the same way, but I think the way Scioscia managed that game is going to have an effect on Joe [Torre] and Jack [McKeon] this year."

Buck, participating in his sixth All-Star broadcast, seconded that notion. Whether it was the fact that the winning league at the All-Star Game began winning World Series home-field advantage last year, or whether a 2002 tie in Milwaukee simply prompted stars to play with more urgency, Buck said that something certainly happened last year that he expects to carry over tonight at Minute Maid Park.


Midsummer memories

Ask the average fan for a favorite All-Star Game memory, and it's likely to elicit a different response each time. It might have been Pete Rose barreling over Ray Fosse at the plate in 1970, or maybe Cal Ripken Jr. being named Most Valuable Player in his last All-Star Game in 2001, during which he swapped positions with Alex Rodriguez. asked members of Tuesday's FOX broadcasting crew for their favorite moments, and here were their responses:

Joe Buck: "The most exciting was the most recent, the [Hank] Blalock home run. Otherwise, it's the Sandy Alomar home run that he hit to put the AL on top while playing in his hometown of Cleveland [in 1997]."

Tim McCarver: "For me, an All-Star Game moment was when [Roger] Clemens started back in '86 in Houston, and it was a memorable game because Charlie Hough was pitching -- a knuckleballer pitching to a different catcher, [Boston's] Rich Gedman of the American League. Charlie threw a knuckleball and it got by him. I'll never forget that eighth inning because I was just putting myself in Gedman's shoes and trying to imagine catching a knuckleballer in an All-Star Game."

Ed Goren: "It's pretty tough for me top an All-Star Game moment that didn't take place during the game. It was the Ted Williams ceremony in Boston [in 1999], and the players reacting to this legendary Hall of Famer."

Jeanne Zelasko: "I admit it -- I'm a huge Tony Gywnn fan. So it's no surprise Gwynn is a part of my All-Star memories, and specifically the 1994 game in Pittsburgh. Watching Tony chug -- and I mean chug -- all the way home from second on a Moises Alou double. Gwynn scored the game-winning run, snapping the National League's losing skid.

"Tony was also a part of my second highlight. How can you not include Teddy Ballgame at Fenway? And Gwynn right by his side. I so enjoyed seeing two of the greatest hitters of our time side-by-side."

Goren added that the thing that sets Major League Baseball's All-Star Game apart from other such events is the fact that everyone has at least one favorite moment.

"If you ask people about their favorite memory," Goren said, "you could expand that to your favorite All-Star Game memory in any sport, and your top 10 list will end up being all baseball All-Star memories."

-- Mark Newman

"My fifth one felt different than any of the first four," Buck said. "There was more intensity, more reason to win. It's clearly the best All-Star Game of any of the major sports. Baseball always seems to take a back seat to football when they compare everything head-to-head, but it's the best All-Star Game.

"Every year you look at this and think, is this a baseball game or a TV show? It was made obvious to us all when there was a tie in Milwaukee. It just fizzled and everyone said, 'Nice try, we'll see you next year.' I like the change. Having gone through it a year, it felt a lot different and there was more intensity. I can remember who won the game. In the past -- the Milwaukee thing set aside -- I couldn't even tell you who won each year. It's more of a baseball game than a TV show because both are trying to win it and one will.

"I would call it the Ray Fosse Factor. I don't know that prior to last year -- and maybe I'm overstating the 'This Time It Counts' thing -- but I don't know that prior to last year you'd have a guy barreling over a catcher trying to score a run -- when guys seemed to care more and there was more pride in who won. Since FOX got involved in this, I think we got away from that, until last year. I think the players took it a little differently last year."

Goren agreed with Buck, saying that he believed the ratings reflected an increased passion for the outcome. Overall ratings for an All-Star Game these days can't be measured against the record rating of 1970, at a time when there were only three networks and a nation turned its lonely eyes to one station. But of 2003's game, Goren said, "Our viewers liked it, too. For the first time in the history of broadcasting the All-Star Game, our rating for the last hour of our broadcast was higher than at the beginning of the game. With something on the line, America stayed tuned to see who would get home-field advantage."

Tonight's FOX broadcast of the 75th Midsummer Classic will bring an extra treat for viewers with the introduction of three FOX Diamond-Cams that are planted in the infield dirt. One is right in front of the mound and the other two are positioned around the batter's box so that they each show an intimate view of the batter hitting from the right or left side. Moreover, anyone can see streaming video of the closeups during the game at and with the ability to select any of the three angles.

Goren was preparing a week earlier for another interesting twist. He said that FOX would ask National League catcher Mike Piazza to wear a microphone while catching, which would be especially interesting considering the storyline built around Piazza and his batterymate and former New York adversary, Roger Clemens.

"First off, Mike has already addressed the potential of catching Clemens in the All-Star Game," Goren explained. "I think that my feeling is, 'Do we address it?' Yes, but it's ancient history. Piazza has addressed it. I like to look ahead instead of dwelling on subjects. Two guys who are going to be Hall of Famers down the road. We've all talked about it. Will we mention it? We'll probably be forced to run some of that old video -- as if it hasn't been run enough. But to dwell on it, I don't think it buys you anything."

Buck added: "On top of that, there's not time to dwell on anything. We're not going to hold ourselves to a different standard than [other media]; it's a story, and it's part of the storyline of the ballgame. To me, I look at it as an opportunity for Clemens. If I were him, I would be thrilled in the way it worked out, because it gives him an opportunity to throw in to Piazza for a couple innings and then go in and shake his hand, and then we can all stop hyperventilating. But we have to cover it.

"I don't think you can expect us to not run the video of Piazza getting beaned or Clemens throwing the bat back. As Ed said, it is ancient history, but it's history that's relevant because of Clemens throwing to Piazza. I'm sure we'll show the video. I don't see how you can talk about the situation on TV without showing the video -- then you address it. You show all sides of it, including that the two are very classy guys in their own right. But I don't think we should be on a different standard than any other paper in the country.

As for other storylines that interest the crew, McCarver volunteered one that has flourished in Anaheim this summer. "Vladimir Guerrero," he said. "I know everybody in baseball knows about him, but I'm not too sure the fans really realize what he is about. He has had a chance to sport his wares in Southern California."

2004 All-Star Game

Jeanne Zelasko, who will co-host the pregame and postgame show for FOX along with Kevin Kennedy, said that two particular things intrigue her the most in this All-Star Game.

"First of all, this time around, everyone else is saying 'This time it counts,'" she said. "FOX took a lot of heat for promoting and supporting the format change last year, and suddenly in 2004 it's cool to say, 'This time it counts.'

"Second is the amount of Yankees involved, not that there's anything wrong with that. I just want to know what happened to all the people who complained about the pinstripe involvement in the years past. Come on, three Yankees were voted in as starters and Hideki Matsui was the 32nd man -- by vote. So, come on, get over it. The Yankees are loaded with All-Stars. Is this news? If you're good, you should be in Houston. I don't care what your uniform says. If you've got a problem with the outcome, there's an easy solution -- vote early and often next season. In the meantime, enjoy the talent, pinstriped and all."

Goren said he sees "multiple storylines" in this All-Star Game, and he offered two that stand out for him. "I think it's going to be memorable to have the living members of the 500 Home Run Club attending the festivities," he said. "And the ceremonial first pitch is going to be thrown by one Muhammad Ali, which I am certainly looking forward to."

McCarver was an NL All-Star catcher in 1966 and 1967, and he has become synonymous with All-Star broadcasting. But rather than talk about his own past, he looked toward the future of his own partner, the son of legendary broadcaster Jack Buck.

"Joe Buck's going to blow by all of us, I'll guarantee you that," McCarver said. "Joe's done six now and he's 35 right now. He'll blow right by all of us in this category and in the World Series category, too."

Mark Newman is enterprise editor for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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