old TV

Fox to put a lot more Saturday games in prime time this season

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I don’t know about you, but my summer Saturday afternoons are filled with shopping, cleaning, kids’ birthday parties, trips to the community pool and drinking beer while staring into the middle distance and wondering, if I jumped into my car and drove west with a purpose, how far I’d get before the authorities caught up with me and brought me back to the domestic existence from which I have no hope of escaping until at least the summer of 2023 when my son goes away to college.

Sorry. I may have said too much there.

The point is, it’s often very hard for me to find time to sit down and watch a baseball game on Saturday afternoon.  Last year Fox, realizing this, moved a couple to prime time where, amazingly, the ratings were higher.  So this year they’re doing it with several more games:

The latest attempt to turn TV’s least-watched night into a showcase for sports: Fox’s regular-season baseball will move to Saturday prime time (7 ET) for eight weeks in a row. The move, to be formally announced today, will start May 19 with regionalized coverage of five games, led by Boston Red Sox-Philadelphia Phillies. Fox’s idea is to package five or six games in prime time, compared with the usual three in Fox’s afternoon slots, offering options to swing viewers between games and, when games end quickly, switch to other games.

Given how much success ABC and ESPN have had with college football on Saturday nights, it makes perfect sense that baseball would do better in the evening hours than it does in the afternoon.  Yes, the big drawback is that it messes with local broadcasts of non-national games — the blackout rules will still apply, it seems — but it’s probably better for MLB to have another prime time national showcase apart from Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN.

Justin Verlander: “I’d like to see the AL and NL have the same rules… I vote NL rules.”

SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 10:  Starting pitcher Justin Verlander #35 of the Detroit Tigers pitches against the Seattle Mariners in the first inning at Safeco Field on August 10, 2016 in Seattle, Washington.  (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
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On Thursday afternoon, Rays pitcher Chris Archer asked his Twitter followers, “Lots swirling around what needs to be changed about the game of baseball. What do y’all want to see changed, if anything, & why?”

Tigers ace Justin Verlander responded:

To that, Archer said:

For what it’s worth, Verlander hasn’t been much of a hitter. In 47 career plate appearances, he has three singles and no extra-base hits. And if the AL did get rid of the DH rule, the Tigers would have nowhere to put Victor Martinez. Verlander, though, would have an easier time pitching to opposing pitchers rather than their DH’s.

Rusney Castillo disappoints again by not running out a routine grounder

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 18:  Rusney Castillo #38 of the Boston Red Sox reacts after he was caught off third base for the third out of the third inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on August 18, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
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The Red Sox inked Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $72.5 million contract back in August 2014. Over parts of three seasons, the 29-year-old has a .679 OPS across 337 plate appearances in the majors and spent the vast majority of the 2016 season at Triple-A Pawtucket.

Castillo had a chance to start things off on the right foot in 2017, but that ship has already sailed. On Thursday against Northeastern at JetBlue Park, Castillo didn’t run out a routine ground ball. He claims he lost track of the outs. Manager John Farrell isn’t happy about the situation. Via Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald:

“Disappointing for a couple of reasons,” Sox manager John Farrell said. “One, he has lost the number of outs. Still, regardless of another of outs, getting down the line is controllable. And for a player in his situation, every little aspect of the game is important. That’s something that was addressed in the moment. He needs to execute the game situation. And for that matter, every player. But that one obviously stood out.”

Everyone always makes far too big a deal about running out grounders. It’s a real nit to pick when it’s February 23 and your team just finished playing an exhibition game that is even more meaningless than the other exhibition games that will be played in the coming month.

That being said, Castillo has to prove himself to merit inclusion on the 25-man roster and that means dotting all his i’s and crossing all his t’s. Even if he went hitless all spring, Castillo could have at least said he couldn’t have done anything else better. But on day one, he already gave his team a reason to count him out.