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Summary[]

Ben Lindbergh, Sam Miller, and Meg Rowley banter about MLB’s proposed in-game distancing measures and what degree of difference from the norm would prevent the game from still looking like baseball, then draft and discuss their favorite highly specific ways in which to follow a baseball game, whether in person or from afar.

Topics[]

  • Drafting favorite ways to consume baseball
  • Baseball spectator experiences
  • Baseball on the radio during a long car trip
  • Watching baseball anonymously
  • Falling asleep to baseball
  • Watching baseball while standing up or walking
  • Turning on the wrong baseball game
  • Watching games covertly
  • Watching baseball over dinner
  • Walking to a game after work
  • Consuming baseball while away from home

Banter[]

  • Several writers reported on MLB's proposed plan for starting the season and regulations for player interaction and in-game procedures. Players would be instructed to not high-five, fist bump, or hug in addition to not throwing the ball around the horn after an out.
  • Ben, Meg, and Sam all agree that even with these changes in place it would still be recognizable as baseball. Sam notes that what he considers to be not baseball is so far off from the current game that it would never be considered.

Draft Selections[]

Sam Meg Ben
Listening to a game on the radio where the signal is breaking up Watching games anonymously at the Arizona Fall League Falling asleep to baseball
Walking laps inside the house while watching baseball alone Watching the wrong game incorrectly while researching Watching or listening to baseball covertly
Baseball dinners with his family Walking to the ballpark on Fridays after work Watching or reading about baseball when far from home

Notes[]

  • Sam believes that listening to a game on the radio while it is breaking up creates a lasting memory because you have to really work to piece together what is happening in the game.
  • Meg prefaces her first pick by admitting that she feels nervous about it because it sounds self-aggrandizing. Ben and Sam are intrigued and spend quite a bit of time trying to guess what it is.
  • Meg notes that sometimes she is recognized while at games and that being anonymous at Arizona Fall League games is one of the reasons she likes them. Sam jokes that this is a "respite from the crush of fame" for Meg.
  • A rule of thumb in journalism is that every letter to the editor represents 1000 people who didn't write in. Sam jokes that this means that thousands of people have recognized Meg at games, but only a handful have stepped forward.
  • The printer next to Sam wakes up and starts printing a document.
  • Sam cannot fall asleep to a live event because the suspense keeps him awake. He wishes he could. "Baseball has completely failed me in that sense and has cost me so much sleep."
  • Sam's way of falling asleep is to retell a plot-driven movie (usually a Mission: Impossible movie) from the opening scene onward. "I never get more than about twenty minutes into the movie before falling asleep." Meg says this won't work for her because she's worried that Tom Cruise is going to perish while making one of those movies. Meg's trick is to think about objects in her room and describe them. "It's sort of the same thing, but with fewer explosions, and a lot less Tom Cruise." Ben enjoys taking time to fall asleep because it gives him time to think. His wife Jessie falls asleep in under a minute, which Ben finds unsettling.
  • When Sam is alone watching baseball, he watches a pitch, then walks a lap through the rooms of his house, returning to the TV room for the next pitch. If he starts after dropping off his daughter at school, he can watch five games this way, easily accumulating 25,000 steps before leaving to pick up his daughter from school. Sam uses the time walking around to think about the pitch he just watched, and this improves his memory of the game.
  • Sam: "I can no longer watch baseball if I'm sitting down without immediately losing focus and having to look at a separate screen, and then once I'm looking at a second screen, I start to tip over, and before I know it, I'm laying on my side staring at Twitter for nine and a half hours eating Halloween candy." This is a problem only if he's watching baseball alone.
  • Sam's remark about Halloween candy makes his daughter laugh. "That's a first for this show."
  • Meg wonders if they will even make Halloween candy this year.
  • Sam adjusts his walk if the pitcher is a fast worker. "The key is to leave the room and go back in the room," referring to the Doorway Effect.
  • Meg likes to watch baseball while "doing a task which I don't like but feel to be necessary" like exercising.
  • Sam is interested to know "if anybody successfully watches baseball on a treadmill." It's important that he remain standing, he wonders if being parked in front of a screen would be a problem.
  • When doing research, it can take Meg a while to realize that she found the wrong game, sometimes multiple innings if the starting pitcher has already left. She enjoys the experience of not knowing the result of something that happened in the past.
  • When Sam is looking for an event in, say, the seventh inning, he is careful not to peek ahead at future innings or he loses interest in the seventh inning.
  • As a child, Ben snuck a radio and headphones into bed to listen to games past his bedtime. He blew his cover celebrating Scott Brosius's Game 5 home run in the 2001 World Series. He convinced his mother to let him stay up and watch the remainder of the game.
  • Ben once had a boring office job that wasn't intellectually demanding, and he listened to games to occupy himself.
  • Meg says, "not that I have ever done this... but at a wedding, maybe...", upon which Ben and Sam excitedly interrupt, eventually recalling that Meg was going to a bachelorette party in Episode 1367 (and returned in Episode 1369). Meg explains that she attended one bachelorette party in Scottsdale, and she tried and failed to get a baseball game added to the festivities. The bride-to-be was interested, but she didn't think the other guests would enjoy it.
  • Meg went to a wedding where the groom and many guests were involved in baseball professionally. They tried not to talk about baseball "because everyone will be annoyed and bored by us", but by the end of the evening, they were talking about baseball after all.
  • Ben got married in October. He wasn't tempted to check in on the playoffs, but his friend took his phone away, just in case.
  • Sam lists his top three covert baseball-listening experiences: (1) The reception of his sister's wedding. (2) Watching the movie Eat Drink Man Woman with his parents. (Sam got in trouble and as punishment had to join his parents on their movie night instead of doing whatever fun thing he had planned.) (3) Going to his church's "cry room" to listen to Giants games. He had no children, so "this had to be the most transparent thing in the world."
  • Sam's last point reminds Ben that he regularly snuck a radio into church as well.
  • When he was young, Sam's family had "baseball dinners": They would eat dinner together while watching the Giants game.
  • Sam found out later in his teenage years that his mom does not like baseball. She is happy that the rest of the family enjoyed listening to the game in the car on long trips, but it was not her thing. But she loves baseball dinners. (Sam's family got together and had a "baseball dinner" a year ago, and it was so much fun.)
  • Sam laments that he currently watches baseball alone for the most part. "Baseball is a sport that just demands that you watch it with other people" because the dead time in the game provides space for you to enjoy the company of your friends. Sam enjoys being with friends when the point is to do something together, rather than getting together for the explicit purpose of talking.
  • Though he does it rarely nowadays, Ben enjoys going to games with friends, especially friends he hasn't seen in a while.
  • Ben went to a Mets game with friends on the night of his high school prom. He went to an all-boys grammar school as well as an all-boys high school, and "we did not know a girl unless we had a sister."
  • Before joining FanGraphs, Meg worked in downtown Seattle about 20 minutes walk from Safeco Field at a job she didn't care much for. As she walked away from the office toward the ballpark, she felt the anxiety of work dissipate. She would meet up with friends and enjoy the game and their company.
  • Ben laments that the new Yankee Stadium is not as enjoyable experience as the stadium it replaced. The cheap upper deck seats in the old stadium were still relatively close to the field, which is no longer the case. Gotta make room for luxury boxes.
  • Although some Friday games were planned in advance, Meg would often make the decision spontaneously after checking out the ticket prices on the secondary market. Sam is jealous, because he has never lived close enough to a ballpark to make the decision spontaneously.
  • Meg was tempted to run to the park to join Iwakuma's no-hitter in progress. She decided she couldn't make it in time, and instead watched it at a bar.
  • Ben's mother didn't get to travel much as a child, so she took the family on many overseas trips to make up for it. (Ben is now not a big fan of traveling, so the cycle continues.) Ben wanted to check on his fantasy team, but information was hard to come by. It was a refreshing reminder of home when the baseball scores would flash on the screen for a moment.
  • A major concern for Ben in choosing a college was access to Yankees baseball games. He ended up choosing Georgetown in Washington, DC because many of his friends were going there, and he figured they could join together for a game. But by the time he arrived on campus (2005), MLB TV had been created, and he got an XM Radio subscription as backup.
  • Ben was anxious about going to college, because he remembered how homesick he got at summer camp, but the presence of baseball was reassuring to him.
  • Going to college and spending the summer with the Stompers are the only two times Ben has lived outside New York.
  • One year, Ben skipped school to watch opening day at home. The next day, the teacher asked him where he was, and he came clean.
  • On Sam's rare trips to the east coast, he finds it thrilling that west coast games start at 10pm local time.
  • Calling back to Ben's vacations abroad: Meg wants Ben to find someone in their 20's. "I want you to tell them... about internet cafes, and I want you to make them watch The Net with Sandra Bullock, and I want to know what it's like to watch them watch that movie."
  • The cancellation of SABR Seminar has deprived Meg of her annual tradition "where I ask you, 'Hey, Sam, are you coming to SABR Seminar?' and you go, 'Hey, maybe,' and I know you're not gonna, but sometimes I'm like 'maybe he will this time,' and now that's gone."
  • Sam notes that he also missed the Winter Meetings despite it being held in San Diego. But he did plan to attend the Home Run Derby at the now-cancelled All-Star game in Los Angeles.
  • Meg and other people from FanGraphs were going to All-Star game. Sean Dolinar wanted to go to Disneyland, and he asked Meg, "Do think people will make fun of me if I asked?" Meg answered, "No. I will go with you to Disneyland."
  • Ronald Blum reported on a presentation that MLB gave to the MLBPA, which upon closer inspection contained dubious claims (all linked below).

Links[]

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