During the most recent homestand, Fox Sports Ohio invited Redleg Nation and other blogs that cover the Cincinnati Reds to send a representative to watch a game in the Fox Sports Ohio suite at Great American Ball Park. I was lucky enough to carry the flag for RN and the FSO folks were very friendly and hospitable to me and a family member who went along.
FSO’s purpose was to promote Game Connect, their online interactive site to Reds bloggers. They offered the suite seats in exchange for us agreeing to write a post on our thoughts about GC. This is our quid to their quo.
Game Connect combines some of the play-by-play and stats of pages like MLB’s GameDay, with Twitter-based participation.
The main interface page is stylish and it’s easy enough to locate old-school statistics like batting average, ERA, fielding percentage and the number of pitches thrown. One of its strengths is the convenience with which a user can find match-up data, like what the history is between a particular hitter and pitcher, or if you wanted, to see the match-up numbers for pinch hitters or relief pitchers. It could be even better if they included a few advanced stats, like base-clogging, OBP or OPS. (Although I’d settle for the Reds themselves considering those stats in free agent signings, trades and lineups.)
Users can also join in a conversation (their word) through parallel Twitter feeds. This section is unmoderated and unstructured. For example, currently the tweet “I am literally going to turn into a mini-corndog” is juxtaposed with “The #Cubs’ last win was on July 30.” Official twitter feeds from the Reds and the Cubs appear and those of any fans using the appropriate hashtags. Not sure if Jamie Ramsey’s tweets make it there, although tweets from opposing fans do. So if you wanted to confirm that stupid Cubs fans were, in fact, Cubs fans, you could. If the 140-character, wild-west chaos of the twitterverse is your thing, you’ll love it and definitely keep it in mind in case you get banned from here.
Because of their partnership with the Reds, GC offers a few unique features – like being able to chat with Hall of Fame writer Hal McCoy during some games and sending questions directly to the broadcast booth. For example, you can ask Thom if he really meant it when he said something or other is the greatest ever. I suggested to the FSO reps that they come up with more features that derive from their partnership with the team. Perhaps DatDude could tweet while running down the first base line. Or if there is something wrong with your knee, you could tweet how it felt and FSO could arrange for Joey Votto to tweet back with a diagnosis of how serious it is and whether and when you should have surgery.
Game Connect currently is designed to be used by fans who are simultaneously watching the game on television or listening on the radio. Ã‚Â But many people follow the Reds online who don’t have access to either broadcast. Unlike other internet sites, like MLB GameDay or ESPN’s Gamecast, Game Connect doesn’t yet indicate where pitches are in the strike zone or where hit balls land. I talked to the folks at FSO about this and they seemed interested in including some of that to appeal to a broader internet audience.