Announcers ready to become storytellers
Joe Buck expects the pace for his eighth All-Star Game broadcast to be about what it was during the first seven -- frenetic.
"The tough thing is that it's so helter-skelter," said Buck, who will handle the play-by-play duties opposite Tim McCarver's color analysis on Fox for baseball's Midsummer Classic tonight at PNC Park. "This is not a normal game, and everybody deserves to have their story told.
"The tough thing is to balance the side stories and the personal stories and talk steroids and HGH (human-growth hormone) and yet do this game. You're playing catch-up the whole time. In the end, you're just happy to get through it."
McCarver, who will be in an All-Star television booth for the 15th time, considered the All-Star Game the "toughest in the world to do" prior to baseball's decision to award the winning league home-field advantage in the World Series, beginning in 2003.
Now that it still "counts," the broadcast "is still the toughest," McCarver said, "because that involves the analyst a little more.
"You're going to tell the stories, anyway, because the human element is so important."
There are stories aplenty this summer, as always.
"We'd never ignore any of the issues, whether it's a Game of the Week or the World Series or the All-Star Game," McCarver said. "Of course we'll talk about it, but to just go into the game and say 'We ought to hit steroids hard,' that's dumb. If it's pertinent, we'll talk about it."
There will be much to discuss beyond the impact of performance-enhancing drugs.
"The young guys, the new guys," Buck said. "The world has heard plenty of (the Yankees') Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez and the perennial All-Stars.
"(Pitcher Justin) Verlander, anybody on that Detroit team, and then once you get into that it opens up to (manager Jim) Leyland. The Mets, with (third baseman David) Wright and (shortstop Jose) Reyes and both of them being 23 and anchoring the left side of the infield on clearly the best team in the National League, that's a good story. So are 40-plus pitchers (Tom) Glavine (of the Mets) and Kenny Rogers (of Detroit)."
McCarver has also identified a number of compelling storylines, including the Detroit Tigers' amazing start, the American League's superiority and Barry Bonds' chase of Babe Ruth.
"There are plenty of stories," he said. "The thing we hope to do is introduce the audience to something they don't know."