One of the things that I’m really enjoying about my move to Seattle is being able to attend Mariners games in person. It’s cool to be able to snag 10 dollar tickets to any value game and just hop on the light rail and go. As someone who has never lived that close to a professional baseball team, this is mindblowing to me.
One thing I lost, however, was the ability to watch Mariners games on my TV. Now that I have entered the blackout dimension, my MLB.TV subscription has become worthless, and since cable prices are evil, I am left without a legal way to watch the Seattle Mariners on their playoff push.
Except for one. Sort of.
This summer, MLB unveiled something called Gameday 3D. It’s still in beta, and doesn’t work all the time, but it’s a fascinating addition to Gameday. Information on the service is scarce, but I believe that it uses the statcast cameras already extant in MLB stadiums to (somewhat) accurately track all the players on the field in a sort of really ugly simulation. When it works, it’s quite impressive. It tracks batting stances very well, so that even though all the players look identical, you can still tell who’s where. Ty France’s iconic bat wiggle, for example, comes across really well.
And, if you have MLB.TV, you can watch every game live in Gameday 3D, even ones that you are blacked out for. So that’s how I watched today’s 6-3 loss to the Mets. It was an interesting experience.
And things got interesting right at the start. While I was also listening to the KIRO radio broadcast, it was very delayed compared to Gameday 3D. So when J.P. jumped on the second pitch of the game and sent it deep to center field, from where I was, it looked like it was going out. Alas, Jeff McNeil made the catch. And that’s one of the first things I learned about Gameday 3D. It’s really hard to judge fly balls.
But it wasn’t hard to judge Pete Alonso’s single in the bottom of the first. After Francisco Lindor reached on an error by Josh Rojas, Alonso stepped up with two outs. Lindor was in motion on the 3-1 pitch, and Alonso booped it into right field for a single. Lindor scored on what ended up being a well executed hit and run.
Since we’re able to move the camera in Gameday 3D, we can zoom in and see Mike Ford boot the relay from Julio.
Yikes! Lindor may be out if Ford didn’t do that. We can also zoom in and see Cal’s pretty athletic spin move to try (but fail) to nab Alonso at 2nd.
And finally, here’s the TV clip for comparison.
I don’t know about you, but I’m impressed by Gameday 3D on this play. And also by the cool split screen that SNY does.
In the second inning, the Mets doubled their lead when Francisco Alvarez singled to score the rookie Ronny Mauricio. Brandon Nimmo followed that up with a single over Josh Rojas’ head to put two on and two out in inning number two. Francisco Lindor hit a line drive, and this time Rojas was bringing it down.
One of the really cool things about Gameday 3D is being able to move the virtual camera wherever you want so you can see plays like this from the infielder’s perspective.
Anyway, that ended the inning, but Kirby’s struggles continued into the third. Pete Alonso stepped in to bat once again, and just did Pete Alonso things. This was home run number 40 on the year for him.
With Gameday 3D, we can see that that ball got out of there in a hurry. 115.6 mph EV. With McNeil on first, that made it 4-0 Mets, and pretty much ended Kirby’s day. He finished the inning, but Dominic Leone came in for the fourth.
But first, in the top of the fourth, the Mariners actually scored some runs. Teo grounded out and Cal struck out to start the inning off inauspiciously, but after Eugenio was hit by a 1-1 pitch, Dominic Canzone turned on one and sent it waayyy back to right-center.
And then Mike Ford did the same thing.
Now with only a one-run deficit, and after Leone threw a really good 4th inning it felt like the Mariners were back in it. For about 10 minutes. Now, others will point to Jeff McNeil as leadoff homer in the 5th as the end for the Mariners. That homer pushed the lead back up to 2 runs, and it felt very bad. But I would argue that this is the real back-breaker.
With J.P. on first and no outs, Julio sconked a baseball at 111.7 mph. Only for Lindor to do this.
Gameday 3D doesn’t give the full perspective for this play. We need the TV clip for this one.
This double play killed what, in hindsight, was probably the Mariners’ best chance to take the lead in this game. Right after this, McNeil hit his home run, and then Pete Alonso, that menace, hit another one in the 7th. I’ll spare you the clips.
The Mariners did bring the tying run to the plate in J.P. Crawford in the ninth inning with two outs. But he struck out swinging, ballgame over. I’ll spare you that clip too.
For the Mariners, losing today really stinks. Of the Big Three AL West teams in the hunt, this game was first. As I write this, the Rangers have just won their game, pulling back within one game of the Mariners. The Astros-Yankees game has just begun, so we’ll see if the other New York team can help the M’s out a little bit. But ultimately, you can’t win ‘em all. Especially not when George Kirby just doesn’t have his stuff. As always, I am against the reactionary “season over” lines after just one loss, but with the season winding down, these games do matter more. The M’s do need to turn it around against the Reds tomorrow.
As for Gameday 3D, I’m really impressed with it. I think it’s two main advantages are that it’s one million times more engaging than regular Gameday. Trying to watch a game on Gameday 2D is excruciating since all you get is pitch info. The delay between updates gives your mind plenty of time to imagine the home run Matt Brash or whoever just gave up. The 3D version dodges that by showing you everything that’s happening between pitches, making it feel much more like watching a real game.
The other advantage is the ability to move the camera around where ever in replay. As the technology develops, I think that this will allow for the raw athleticism of baseball players to shine more, as we get to see plays from their perspective. Sure, right now it’s kind of clunky and everyone has concrete gray skin, but it is a new technology. Growing pains and all that.
Besides, slightly clunky with moments of greatness? That’s just describing the Mariners, baby.