Watching televised baseball games, whether you are a devoted follower of a team or just a casual fan, can be done much more enjoyably if you follow a few simple guidelines. Watching televised baseball games doesn’t have to be made into a science, but this article will allow you to get more out of a telecasted game. Use some of the tips that ensue, and see if you don’t take more pleasure watching televised baseball games in the future.
Almost every pitch in a baseball game that is televised is shown from the centerfield camera. The viewer is seeing the pitcher from behind and the batter from the front, both on the screen at the same time. Balls that are not offered at by the batter are then called balls or strikes by the umpire. The viewer can also offer his or her opinion on these pitches. To do so knowledgably, you must understand the camera angles. Balls that appear to go over the plate, either on the inside or outside part of the plate, that a viewer thinks are strikes, are often called balls by the umpire. The best way to be able to make accurate judgments of these pitches as a “viewing umpire” is to first gauge the batter’s reaction. If he disagrees with a call, an overhead camera is often used to show the pitches proximity to the plate. By combining that image and what you saw from the centerfield camera, you should have a good idea of where the home plate is located and be able to judge where pitches are when shown from the centerfield camera’s view. You can also watch the pitcher’s reaction when he believes he has thrown a strike that hasn’t been called. The overhead view will again be used in this situation if it was a matter of being inside or outside. The height of pitches is harder to judge, and the strike zone varies from batter to batter. Disputed pitches of this nature, almost always argued at the bottom of the strike zone, are shown form a side view camera in most stadiums, allowing you to have a better idea of where a strike is on most hitters.
Watch how pitchers work the batters. If a batter is badly fooled by a pitch, see if the pitcher uses it later on in the count to get him out. If a pitch brushes a batter back away from the plate by coming in high and tight, see if the next pitch is low and away, a common thought among most hurlers to make a batter miss. If a batter shows he cannot handle a high fastball or a slow curve, see how many similar pitches he gets after that. The Yankees Mariano Rivera, upon seeing a batter swing and miss at a high fastball, will almost invariably keep throwing even higher ones until that hitter either lays off it or strikes out. Left handed hitters have a hard time in most case handling the sweeping curves of left handed pitchers, as the ball is breaking away from them. In these match- ups, see if they try to offer at the first fastball they see rather than take a strike and then face the prospect of having to hit the curveball. In other words, put yourself in the place of each batter when viewing televised baseball games and think about what you would do.
When the ball is hit it can be difficult to gauge where it is going. The batter’s immediate reaction is one good way to do so, especially with the game on the line. If he drops his head suddenly and doesn’t appear to be running to first, you can bet he has either popped up or flied out. If the ball looks to be solidly hit, the batter will take off hard, unless he knows it is a home run, in which case he might admire his work. You have a split second to see this reaction when watching televised baseball before the camera shifts to the ball. If the pitcher slumps his shoulders and drops his head, he has probably just given up a hit.
Following a well hit ball can be the most frustrating aspect of watching televised baseball. You cannot go by the announcer’s call because they are often wrong. Phil Rizzuto, when he called Yankee contests, had every other fly ball being a home run. The best way to tell if a ball is going to be a home run is not to follow the flight of the ball on camera, which can be next to impossible, but to watch the outfielders. If they think they have a play on the ball they will head back to the fence in a hurry and then be turning to find the ball. If the ball is long gone, they will turn and take a few steps back and watch it go. Look at replays of home runs during telecasts and instead of watching where the ball lands, see how the outfielder reacted. It will go a long way in aiding your ability to tell whether to get excited about a long fly.
Similarly, on plays at the plate, watch the catcher or the on deck batter. If the catcher is standing upright, you can tell that there isn’t even a throw coming. If he is crouched and blocking the plate, it is going to be close. If the on deck batter is indicating with his hands to slide or stand up, that is also a great telltale sign of the closeness of the play. Close plays on the bases are hard to decipher as they first happen. What you as a viewer watching televised baseball might feel is a bad call may not even get a replay. If the runner or the first or third base coach doesn’t argue, the right call was most likely made.
Keep score in a scorebook as the game goes along. They can be purchased at any sporting goods store and it is a fun way to watch a game. See if you agree with the official scorekeeper, especially when it comes to a ball being judged a hit or an error. Remember that the official score at a game is quite often a member of the press, someone that covers the team on a regular basis. His having to deal with players at a later date can compromise his impartiality on hits or errors.
Hopefully this article will make watching televised baseball games a little more fun for you.