OK, let's dispel the notion that we all have our faces buried in a spreadsheet and never watch games. What's your routine with respect to watching/listening to games on a normal day/evening? Do you watch/listen as a fan or fantasy analyst?
My local (and still favorite) team is the Boston Red Sox so when they're playing I'll have them on the main TV. I'll then have four games on my computer. I'll admit to favoring games involving players I have active in my daily lineups but I'm also a huge fan of watching good pitching so if an ace is on the hill I'll have that game on. If the Red Sox aren't playing I'll have the best pitching match-up on the big screen.
About half the time I'll have the sound down and have music or a podcast on in the background.
Watch your team, everyone else
Depending on what else I'm doing, I'll monitor my Twitter feed as there's someone I follow live tweeting each game so that's a great way to be up on what's happening or to be made aware of a nice defensive play which I'll try to check out on-line.
For the most part, I'll watch for the pure enjoyment of loving the game. There are a couple of scenarios where I'll put my fantasy analyst hat on. This is mostly at the end of a game involving a team with a questionable bullpen. I'll monitor reliever usage to try to be one step ahead chasing the next closer de jour. Although, on line coverage of games now includes this and can be gleaned if you look hard enough. The other fantasy angle is trying to get the most updated information on an injury situation, though Twitter is usually on top of this as well.
I wish I could say that I watch games without my laptop nearby, but that would not be the truth.
I do try to stay neutral to who and what I root for. That is largely a function of the number of teams I have which means for any given game I can tune to, there is a chance my batter is facing my pitcher.
I don't subscribe to MLB.tv or to Sirius even, but I do get MLB Extra Innings, so I tend to track that once games begin, along with MLB Tonight, where I have grown fond of Dan Plesac (longtime fantasy players might note his resemblance to Mat Olkin, formerly "Mat at Bat" with USA TODAY).
But I do have a weakness for watching the Oakland Athletics, I must confess, and the San Francisco Giants as well, partially because they are the local teams, but also because I know their teams and management pretty well, and I like them.
However, I also try to draw a line around 8 in the evening, when Diane and I have dinner and she is done with her studying (almost done with her BS at UC Davis).
If a game is on and is exciting, she has no problem watching, but, otherwise I hand the clicker to her and she controls the TV universe.
I do, however, still track the scores on my IPhone.
On my available days to do so, I do most of what Todd said. I also watch the MLB Network so I can catch big plays and stay relatively closely tuned to New York Yankees games.
It's hard for me to watch with a fan hat nowadays until the postseason. If someone is playing and I haven't seen him swing a bat or throw a pitch, I make an attempt to catch him. You should watch a player as part of your fantasy scouting to get an idea of what type of swing he has, approach he takes in the box, movement he has on his pitches, and more.
I observe hot or struggling players to get an idea behind the reasons for their recent stretch. Often, broadcast analysts may point out a reason for such performance, and if I happen to see it, it helps with insight.
Bullpen observations are key as well. In addition to noting who comes on in what situation, you also could glean hints about the manager's favorite(s) by seeing who is warming up as someone else is pitching in the ninth.
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About Todd Zola, MastersBall.com
Focusing primarily on the science of player valuation and game theory starting in 1997, Todd Zola and Mastersball carved out an important niche in the fantasy industry. In 2006, Todd became the Research Director for fantasybaseball.com, and in 2009, he relaunched Mastersball and is now a managing partner.
Todd competes in Tout Wars and the XFL, and has been a multiple-time league champion in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. He has been a contributor to the fantasy content at MLB.com and SI.com, is a frequent guest on Sirius/XM and Blog Talk Radio and is an annual speaker at the spring and fall First Pitch Forum symposiums.
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