The Fox TV broadcast handled Derek Jeter’s exit well. The build up to it, not so much.
Fox’s coverage of the All-Star Game was far from perfect, but Joe Buck and his booth mates handled one matter just right:
When Derek Jeter took his last bow in the fourth inning, they kept their mouths shut.
There must have been a temptation to provide sideline commentary, especially since Jeter reacted to the thunderous ovation as if he had been named the Kiwanis Club’s Member of the Month, not won the hearts of baseball fans everywhere.
But great broadcasters know when to let a moment speak for itself.
Early on, it didn’t seem as if that would be possible.
Fox coverage opened with a clumsy comedy piece in which Jeter kicked Buck out of the locker room. That was followed by slow-motion shots of “The Captain” walking through doors, an interview that was billed as a “very candid conversation” (it wasn’t) and rather flat praise in taped bits from personalities such as Billy Crystal and Kelly Ripa. (Kelly Ripa???).
Fortunately, for Fox, Jeter lived up to all the hype.
So did the city of Minneapolis, which got a lot of close-ups on Tuesday night.
Target Field looked terrific, thanks to stunningly beautiful skies and the network’s most advanced high-tech gear in its history. Great shots of the Basilica, the Stone Arch Bridge and the city skyline could not have done a better job of selling the city as a world-class destination.
“This is as beautiful a park as you’ll find anywhere in the country,” Buck said. “If you’re a baseball fan and you haven’t been to this ballpark, you really owe yourself the trip.”
The camera work was tight — sometimes too tight. A close-up of Idina Menzel’s gaping mouth during her performance of the national anthem didn’t do her or viewers any favors.
It would have been nice if cameras had done a better job of finding notables in the audience.
Jill Biden was captured in the audience, but never identified. In one of the night’s most awkward moments, roving reporter Ken Rosenthal interviewed Bud Seling in his box seat, completely ignoring the fact that The Commish was sitting next to Hank Aaron who had a look on his face that said: “Do you know that I’m Hank Aaron?”
One local nit: During the introductions, Glen Perkins was labeled as being from Lakeville. Technically, that’s true. His family currently lives in the suburb, but as true Twins fans know, Perkins’ hometown is actually Stillwater.
But there were some nice touches to show the TV team had came to play.
Buck made a keen observation that Andrew McCutchen’s bright yellow shoes matched the color of the vendors’ uniforms.
Color commentator Tom Verducci offered an insightful note on how Jeter probably finds the most solace in the dugout, perhaps the one place on Earth outside his home where he isn’t mobbed by fans.
Overall, Fox was blessed with a dramatic game and picturesque weather. But give them credit for keeping errors to a minimum.