FOX may make its Game of the Week to 100% prime time next year

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old TV.jpgFOX will air a handful of its Saturday games in prime time this year, and if it works they move the whole shebang into prime time next year, USA Today reports (Stop gawking at Erin Andrews and scroll down to the second story).

If they do that, they’re thinking about doing more renationalized games as opposed to the maybe two or three games they divy up across the country now. The thinking: prime time means better ratings and going more regional draws in more metropolitan areas, also leading to better ratings.

This may all work for FOX and might be better than the current day game setup, but I’m struggling to see how a national game of the week — even if its chopped up into a few regions — really accomplishes in this day and age.

Baseball is far more local a thing than the other sports, and unlike 15 or 20 years ago, nearly every baseball team is covered by a RSN of some kind that broadcasts virtually all of its games to its local area. Baseball obsessives like me, on the other hand, have the option of getting MLB.tv or Extra Innings to watch virtually every single game there is.  There doesn’t seem to be a lot of unmet demand for baseball broadcasts.

What does the national broadcast add?  Especially in light of baseball’s blackout rules. If Fox moves into the evening on a regular basis and the current rules stay in effect, there will be fewer games available to fans in the aggregate, and that rubs me the wrong way. It’d be less of a problem if fans could — as they do during ESPN’s weeknight broadcasts — switch between the national game and the local game at their leisure, but I doubt that’s in the cards with respect to the FOX games.

I’ll admit, I’m a simple caveman and the ways of broadcasting frighten and confuse me, so I might just be missing something critical here. It strikes me, however, that national broadcasts during the regular season are an anachronism. The casual fans have all of their home team’s games. The nuts have all 15 games a night. All of these games are being broadcast by knowledgeable and, for the most part, competent local crews. Why do I need Buck and McCarver and those guys in my living room once a week?

Joey Votto thinks he can win the Home Run Derby, but hasn’t been invited yet

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Despite having hit at least 20 home runs in eight of his 11 seasons in the majors, Reds first baseman Joey Votto has never participated in a Home Run Derby. Currently, he’s tied for the National League lead in home runs with 20, and he hasn’t been invited to this year’s festivities at Marlins Park.

In the event he is invited, Votto said he thinks he can win it, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto likened himself to Ichiro Suzuki, a player known more for his contact abilities and mastery of the strike zone than power. “Just think of me as the Canadian Ichiro — Japan has theirs and Canada has theirs,” Votto said. “I could pull homers into the seats at will.”

Along with the 20 homers, Votto is currently hitting .306/.419/.601 with 53 RBI, and 52 runs scored in 313 plate appearances.

Teammate Scott Schebler also has 20 home runs at the moment and Adam Duvall, who made it to the semifinals of the Derby last year, has 16. Neither of them have been approached about participating in the Derby, either. Per Rosecrans, in the event each was invited, Duvall said he would consider participating if he wasn’t an All-Star and Schebler would participate regardless. Votto said he would only participate if he made the All-Star team.

There was apparently some miscommunication between Pete Mackanin and Pat Neshek

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The Phillies won their first game since last Thursday, beating the Cardinals 5-1 on Thursday afternoon. Starter Aaron Nola pitched into the eighth inning, but left with one out. Pat Neshek took the mound with a runner on first base and induced an inning-ending double play on a 3-1 count to Tommy Pham.

Given that Neshek only threw five pitches and the Phillies were staked to a four-run lead, it wouldn’t have seemed unreasonable if the sidewinding right-hander came back out to finish the ninth inning as well. But Luis Garcia had that honor, tossing a scoreless final frame to nail down the win in a non-save situation.

After the game, manager Pete Mackanin said he asked Neshek to go back out for the ninth, but Neshek didn’t want to, per Stephen Gross of the Morning Call. Neshek told the media that Mackanin never asked him. There was also a miscommunication on Wednesday. The combination of Joaquin Benoit, Hector Neris, and Edubray Ramos combined to allow four runs in 2 1/3 innings, helping the Phillies lose 7-6. Neshek never appeared. According to Mackanin, Neshek told him that he wasn’t available to pitch. Neshek said he was told he’d have the day off.

The disconnect between Mackanin and Neshek could speak to a larger divide between the manager and his failing team. The Phillies have underwhelmed across the board due to players like Odubel Herrera (whose head was down and did not see Juan Samuel’s stop sign last night in what became a base running blunder), Maikel Franco, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Aaron Nola (today’s start notwithstanding), and Hector Neris not living up to expectations. The Phillies signed Mackanin to a contract extension last month, but the team has completely fallen apart since then and the latest communications issues certainly don’t reflect well on him. Neither does last night’s travesty of a game.

As for Neshek, he said that going to the Phillies was “the best thing that happened to me in a few years” but also realized, given the state of the team, that it remains very likely he winds up in a new uniform by the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. After Thursday’s performance, Neshek is carrying a 0.63 ERA with a 25/4 K/BB ratio in 28 2/3 innings. He very well could be the Phillies’ lone representative at the All-Star Game in Miami next month. That is, if he’s still wearing their uniform. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Nationals have shown interest in Neshek.