How do you tend to follow MLB games from the UK? Do you get to watch many or do you live off the condensed games?
I catch up with condensed games every morning during the week, and then usually replay Friday and Saturday games on Saturday and Sunday mornings as live, without knowing the result. I’ve managed to get my daughter quite interested in baseball this way, and she’ll watch along with me quite happily while pottering around. My wife gets to lie in, so everyone’s a winner! I’ll often dip in and out of live games during the week too, chasing at bats of favourite players from other teams, and watching pitchers that I like. I’m a teacher, so during the long summer holiday I get to increase my baseball diet a fair bit, staying up later and catching more replayed games.
Following on from that, what advice would you give to any British-based people looking to get into baseball?
The best way to learn about the sport is to watch as much as possible and see how things unfold in games. I got into baseball before MLB TV was available, but I would advise anyone interested now to subscribe to it. It gives access to live radio which is great too, as I find radio commentary is often more descriptive and can be listened to while cooking or washing up, which is more relationship-friendly than hogging the TV! Beyond that, there is a growing community of UK-based fans who are friendly, committed and knowledgeable, and I’d advise getting in touch with people, both online and at the MLBUKCommunity meetups.
How did you get into baseball and what led you to follow the Giants?
I went on a family holiday to the US when I was nine, and one of the places we visited was San Francisco. Despite not actually going to a game, I did get a t-shirt, and I suppose that planted the seed. At secondary school I made friends with a couple of guys who were interested, and then the Channel 5 coverage started, and I had to choose a team to follow. My fondness for San Francisco, and Barry Bonds being amazing, sealed the deal.
There’s a lot of concern about tanking. What are your thoughts on it? If it’s an issue, how would you try and stop it?
I think it is interesting seeing teams rebuild, and I don’t see it as a problem but I might have a stronger view if I were a local paying supporter of a smaller or mid-market team who were involved in an aggressive tear down. Cycles of boom and bust are common enough in North American sport, and there are plenty of perennial contenders in baseball to keep the mix healthy.
How do you think is best to market baseball to the UK market? Is it all about homers or should we be selling the analytic thinking and history of the game?
I think there is something for everyone in baseball, and it is one of the reasons it is such a great sport. The sport is going through changes at the moment, and the rise in home runs and strikeouts is not for everyone, but it is constantly in flux and yet remains in touch with its rich history. I think people just need to get watching, and the live games here in 2019 will help spark interest for sure.
A few quick questions to finish…
Who will make the playoffs in 2018? Despite some wobbles, I still think all last year’s division winners will get repeat, with the Brewers, D-backs, Yankees and Mariners making up the wildcard spots.
Will we see ‘the opener’ become common place? Yes.
Should MLB continue to try and improve pace of play? Sure.
If you’re building a roster, you can pick one of each of these, who do you take?
Judge or Betts? Betts
Sale or Scherzer? Scherzer
Arenado or Bryant? Arenado
Machado or Lindor? Lindor
Freeman or Goldschmidt? Oooooh. Freeman.