Mastrodonato: MLB All-Star Game overshadowed by FOX’s overproduced broadcast

You probably missed the MLB All-Star Game on Tuesday night.

Even if you watched it, you missed it.

So did some of the players.

Once the best All-Star Game in sports, Major League Baseball turned this year’s version into an overproduced parody. It was almost as bad as this year’s NFL Draft. It was as if FOX just decided it was no longer producing a baseball game but instead tried to jam content onto their social media pages. There was no flow at all, just fragmented pieces of tweetable video clips, most of them uncomfortable.

As for the game itself? The quality on the field couldn’t have been better. This might be the best crop of All-Stars baseball has seen in years.

If you were able to sift through the awkward interviews with FOX’s Joe Buck and whichever unlucky player had the earpiece in while he was trying to swing the bat, you got to see the American League look like the premier side as it got the best of the National League in a 5-2 win.

The game started with FOX’s Tom Verducci standing next to Nolan Arenado at third base and asking him what it was like to be back in Colorado after the Rockies painfully and awkwardly traded him to the Cardinals before the season. Arenado was trying to take warm-up throws while the sound of his own voice answering a touchy question blasted through the Coors Field speakers.

Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts might’ve had a 3-for-3 night and been the MVP if not for FOX putting a microphone on him during his first at-bat against Max Scherzer. As Scherzer pumped in 97-mph fastballs and his signature sliders at the bottom of the zone, Buck was in his ear asking him questions and making comments that Bogaerts mostly ignored.

He struck out swinging through a slider as Buck chirped in his ear.

Afterward, Bogaerts told reporters in Denver that it wasn’t easy to hit with the broadcast in his ear.

“It didn’t go well, either,” he said, according to MassLive.com. “And I’m facing Scherzer — probably the best in the game. But it was fun. Something different. Definitely the concentration level is a bit not where it’s supposed to (be).”

His next two times up, Bogaerts lined a pair of singles off Corbin Burnes and Trevor Rogers, elite starters with a combined 250 strikeouts in 189 innings this year.

It would be one thing if the players were clearly enjoying the interview and sharing unique insight into their approach. The very obvious problem is that they are being interviewed while playing the game. 

These aren’t interviews. They’re tests of a player’s concentration and ability to make small talk while 50,000-plus are watching them compete against the best baseball players in the universe.

The game itself no longer counts for anything, but the competition has never looked more intense. The players clearly care. They’re trying to impress.

Fernando Tatis Jr. looked furious at himself for nearly missing a pair of home runs on fly balls he hit 300-plus feet to the deep parts of the outfield. On the second one, Buck interviewed him while he was swinging. And what did we learn from the interview? Tatis was looking for a fastball.

Breaking news right there.

Every inning ended with Buck telling the player how much he respected them and hoped they had great second halves.

This isn’t Buck’s fault. He’s a pro doing his best with the format he’s given.

Meanwhile, we have Shohei Ohtani throwing 100-mph fastballs, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., J.T. Realmuto and Mike Zunino hitting majestic home runs and some of the best athletes in the game playing beautiful defense in the field.

The Red Sox had a nice showing overall. Bogaerts was 2-for-3 with an RBI, Rafael Devers was 1-for-2 with a double for the game’s first hit, J.D. Martinez was 0-for-2 with two strikeouts after replacing Ohtani as the designated hitter, and Nathan Eovaldi and Matt Barnes threw a pair of scoreless innings, though Barnes nearly blew the game in the eighth if not for a sensational diving catch by the Angels’ Jared Walsh.

The game itself was exciting. The pre-game ceremony to honor Hank Aaron was touching.

Otherwise, it was an overproduced event full of awkward moments.

Hopefully next year they’ll just let the players play and the broadcasters call the game.

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