During Tuesday night’s MLB All-Star Game, there was a prevailing thought among baseball fans watching that the league would somehow honor the late Tony Gwynn during the game. Gwynn appeared in 15 midsummer classics over his illustrious career, the tenth-highest total ever and second-most among players who started their career after 1970. Gwynn also scored the winning run in the 1994 All-Star Game after a tenth inning double by Moises Alou.
On Tuesday night, we didn’t see that video, nor did we see any sort of tribute to Gwynn at all. We also didn’t see tributes to some other fallen legends, including Don Zimmer, Jim Fregosi, Ralph Kiner, and Jerry Coleman, among others. The broadcast snubbed all of these late baseball icons, when all they needed to do was show a graphic, call for a pregame moment of silence, or do something. Doing *anything* to honor the memory of these men would have been better than what actually happened – nothing.
There was no moment of silence. There was no memorial graphic. There were no historical video clips. There were even no passing mentions by Fox’s broadcast team. Major League Baseball and Fox did nothing to honor Tony Gwynn or any of these other late legends during the All-Star Game itself.
And quite frankly, the whole situation was bizarre – because MLB and Fox *did* pay tribute to Gwynn during America’s Pregame on Fox Sports 1 before the game began. Of course, there’s not nearly the same thing, considering Fox Sports 1 would be lucky if 1% of the total viewing audience for the All-Star Game also watched America’s Pregame. Fox clearly knew what they were doing, because they outlined what would happen in a conference call last week.
— Neil Best (@sportswatch) July 16, 2014
It’s so bizarre. Why not take 30 seconds out of the Derek Jeter Appreciation Hour to acknowledge Gwynn and the others? You can’t blame a lack of time – the timeslot on Fox started at 7:30, and rolled on for four-plus hours. We got an interview with Bud Selig, who is retiring like Jeter, but doesn’t deserve one-tenth of the praise Jeter is getting. And this isn’t some slight against Jeter – I thought the praise heaped upon him Tuesday was obviously excessive, but not surprising or unwarranted. Fox could have cut one interview, one silly pretaped segment involving All-Stars, one video package, and taken care of honoring a legend. They didn’t, and while I’m not outraged, I’m disappointed.
Clearly, the San Diego Padres were miffed at the lack of a tribute. This tweet says it all without saying a word.
— San Diego Padres (@Padres) July 16, 2014
I think Fox realizes they made a bit of a mistake, considering this tweet sent out after the game ended. Well, they either realize they made a mistake, or they have no tact whatsoever.
— FOX Sports (@FOXSports) July 16, 2014
And for as much as I dragged ESPN through the coals for their horrid presentation of Monday’s Home Run Derby, they got it right with their brief, powerful tribute to Gwynn. It doesn’t take much effort to make an impact.
I’m wondering how much of the missing tribute had to do with the cause of Gwynn’s death – salivary gland cancer that Gwynn was convinced came about because of his use of chewing tobacco. For as much as MLB and the MLBPA put on a big face about banning chew, it’s still a very sensitive issue for both sides. Bringing up Gwynn’s death could have brought up negative feelings towards tobacco use and lead to increased scrutiny, given the heavier media presence at the All-Star Game. And if there’s one thing MLB (or any major entity for that matter) doesn’t want, it’s more scrutiny from the wrong people.
Don Zimmer’s passing also wasn’t acknowledged, except by one person at Target Field – Rays pitcher David Price.
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) July 15, 2014
However, there was one tribute to Gwynn on Tuesday night at Target Field. You may have even seen it during the game on Fox.
Orioles Adam Jones writes TG19 on cap in honor of Tony Gwynn: pic.twitter.com/xRN5YFX0rO
— Uniforms Nation (@uniformsnation) July 16, 2014
That’s right – Adam Jones wrote Gwynn’s initials and number on his cap. There was no mention of it made by Joe Buck, Tom Verducci, Harold Reynolds, Ken Rosenthal, or Erin Andrews. Would it have been so hard for Fox to have one of their two reporters chat with Jones for two minutes about his tribute? Apparently, that was too much effort for them.
What could have been a fantastic All-Star Game send off fell flat on its face because of the complete and utter inaction of all parties involved. And that’s a damn shame, because Tony Gwynn, Don Zimmer, Jerry Coleman, Ralph Kiner, Bob Welch, and everyone else in the baseball world that has recently passed away deserved better. When the majority of your coverage revolves around one player and ignores several heroes of the past, we all lose.
How nobody involved at either Fox or MLB even had a second thought about relegating a Tony Gwynn tribute to the lightly watched cable pregame show and ignoring him completely during the All-Star Game broadcast itself is staggering.