A Real Fans’ Guide to Watching The All-Star Game
If you’re a real baseball fan, I’m sorry, but the All-Star Game isn’t designed to entertain you. It might entertain you anyway, but the game is for the casual fan. It’s announced by Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. They will interview celebrities. They will talk during the entire game about baseball stories that you are already well versed in. Go ahead and count the number of times they talk about a Yankee who isn’t playing in the game. It will be more than 5, I promised. They’re also going to get a lot of facts wrong about players because they aren’t equipped to handle preparation on 70 players and the season they are having.
“Brett Cecil? Who’s that?! Some guy from Canada, I think. He’s a reliever who doesn’t pitch the 9th inning and he’s in the ASG? What?” is something I would expect to hear Joe Buck say around 9:50pm tonight. You can also expect to hear something about the great seasons Matt Moore and Chris Tillman are having because they are 13-3 and 11-3, respectively. In case you’re wondering, they’re 13th and 22nd in ERA and 16th and 38th in FIP just among qualifying AL starters, but Buck and McCarver don’t know that because they only watch baseball when they are paid to broadcast it.
Basically, if you want to listen to thoughtful baseball analysis that includes accurate commentary on the first half, or simply about the game in front of you, that isn’t an option tonight. Tonight is about Fox pumping up their fall shows and their new 24 hour sports network, Fox Sports 1.
You also won’t see the game’s best players because some didn’t get picked because players and managers don’t look at the right statistics or because some of the game’s elite players didn’t have excellent first halves. The game should either be a showcase of great first halves or of the game’s biggest stars, and whichever side you prefer, tonight will be lacking for you if you actually know stuff about baseball.
So I’m sorry, this is how it is. But you can still have fun because it’s baseball. Here are five key steps:
1. Tune Out The Announcers
This is the simplest and more important of all my tips. Joe Buck and Tim McCarver have nothing important or interesting to say. The only reason to listen to them is if you’re planning to mock them on Twitter or if someone has invaded the press box and no one is live tweeting it. You’ll enjoy the game a lot more if you don’t hear the announcers say stupid things about baseball.
2. Keep MLB At Bat Open
I can’t stress this enough. Fox will not tell you when players are replaced if they’re on defense and they won’t tell you where they are now hitting in the batting order. Last year, there were about 5 changes one inning and they told you about one of them before just giving up and going back to talking about Josh Hamilton’s impending free agency. If you actually want to know who is playing in the game, it is your responsibility to stay on top of it.
3. Use Twitter
Just because Fox doesn’t care about the real fan doesn’t mean baseball writers and fans on Twitter don’t. If you want to see interesting stats or real commentary, jump on Twitter and follow along. It will be much better.
4. Do Your Homework
The key here is to familiarize yourself with pitchers who you haven’t had a chance to see with your own eyes very much. You know who Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw are and you’ve seen them throw 100 times because you, the real fan, enjoy beauty. However, you may not have had a chance to watch many Patrick Corbin starts. Head over to Brooks Baseball and pull up each pitcher’s repertoire so that you know if you should be looking for a breaking ball or high heat on the 1-2 pitch you’re about to see.
5. Focus On The Matchups
The All-Star Game can’t really be thought of as a real game, even though “it counts.” Players only play a few innings, starters go one or two innings, and managers make changes based on show. That’s fine, because it’s really an exhibition. But for the die-hard baseball fan who just needs to be watching baseball in order to properly live, it’s not the best offering because it’s not a real game. For you, focus on the matchups. You’re going to get to watch Matt Harvey face Trout, Cano, and Cabrera all in a row. Then it’s going to be Kershaw and against 3 more great hitters. You’re usually scouring MLB.TV to watch Sale versus Harper, but on this night, MLB is bringing every matchup to you. Appreciate the ease with which you’ll be able to watch these pitchers go after the hitters.
So as you sit down to watch tonight, remember that this game isn’t designed for the real baseball fan. This is a game that caters to people who think baseball is boring.
The coverage is going to be bad and the game won’t look anything like a matchup between two real baseball teams, but you’re going to watch because you can’t not watch baseball and you want to cheer for your team’s players and your league. These steps should help, but if they don’t just remember there will be real baseball tomorrow…Thursday…oh man…Friday?! Really? You’re on your own everyone.