Tuesday night, when the Royals laid a beating on the Rays 8-2, I had an opportunity to hang out in the Fox Sports Kansas City suite at Kauffman to watch the game. To give you a sense of how unique this opportunity is for someone like me, let me state that I’ve spent many a night sleeping on the floor. I’m a person of the floor, both figuratively and literally.
I was granted the opportunity by Geoffrey Goldman of Fox Sports to check out the new version of Game Connect they’ve launched—to be clear he invited Michael Engel who couldn’t go so I called dibs. Until very recently, I hadn’t heard of Game Connect but apparently it’s a free supplemental program run through the Fox Sports Kansas City website that allows fans to get a TON of extra cool information while watching the game.
Walking in I saw a group of guys huddled around their lab tops about 10 minutes prior to the first pitch. Craig Brown of Royals Review and Bill Ivie from I-70 Baseball were talking about something Royals related with a few guys from Fox Sports. Game Connect sat on each of their screens and they talked about all the information that it provides.
Real quickly, I’ll give you the four things I like most about Game Connect:
1) Pitch count tracker – One of the things that bothers me about the TV broadcast is that there is no permanent pitch counter. Game Connect has a pitch counter AND stats on how many pitches a pitcher throws on average per outing. It comes in the form of a gas gage that lets you know when the pitcher is ‘gassed’.
2) Great stats – Almost anything you could want to know about a given moment statistically in on Game Connect. It gives numbers on a given pitcher-hitter matchup. It gives different splits. It gives clutch-hitting stats. It gives player salaries … which blew my mind and I love.
3) Game talk – Game Connect has a feature called “Game Talk.” Using fancy-dancy computer stuff that I don’t understand, all the tweets that have something to do with the game, either team, any of the players, and so on come up in a feed so you can read what people are tweeting about the game. It’s awesome. It’s like watching the game with the planet, including fans of the other team.
4) Usability – I’m terrible with computers … much better with books. So, that Game Connect is very graphics oriented and easy to use is really important to me. If it were overly complex or demanding I wouldn’t use it.
Here’s the link to try it out (click on ‘Game Connect’ just below the photo): http://www.foxsportskansascity.com/pages/royals
What the Fox Sports guys stressed, and what I found out the more I used it, is that Game Connect isn’t like MLB Gameday. It’s not ANOTHER way to watch the game. It’s a supplement to watching the game. You use it while watching or listening to the game to get all the information you wish you had while watching the game. I’ve watched two games and listened to one using it, and it enhances that experience.
But walking into the Fox Sports suite I wasn’t really thinking about baseball. I was wondering when someone who looked like a Secret Service agent was going to tell me I was in the wrong place and ship me to Guitmo. It just looked too nice in there. Free food, free drinks, my choice to sit inside or out just behind home plate. This may seem old hat to people who experience this regularly, but to a guy like me it was like being invited to stay in the Lincoln bedroom at the White House.
The night was filled with highlights really. Talking to Craig and Bill, both very nice and smart guys, about baseball was a lot of fun. Meeting Joel Goldberg and Jeff Montgomery and talking baseball with them was cool. But probably the greatest moment was standing in the suite with those guys and seeing my twin brother Mike catch Yuniesky Betancourt’s homerun on TV. He has season tickets, and when I saw the ball headed for his section, I thought Wait, that’s headed for Mike I think. Next thing I know, he’s barreling through old ladies and children to get to the ball (George Costanza style).* I must have jumped like a gazelle screaming “That’s my brother! That’s my brother!”. I know, right? How professional.
*Note: My brother did not actually knock over people to get to the ball, but that is how I will tell the story for the rest of my life. He also gave the ball to a kid per the laws of human decency.
Now that my time among the mighty has passed, I will move back to the seats of the general populous. It was a nice vacation, a great place to visit, and I’ll take that opportunity whenever I can. But really, is there any bad way to watch a game. My brother was down in the stands where he always is, just beyond the Royals bullpen. When I saw him after the game, he was elated. He’d caught a homerun. He’d watched a great game. He’d experienced a beautiful night in Kansas City. And when he left the stadium, just like me, he was smiling.