Facebook forced me to watch baseball online -- it made me wow, sad, and angry

Once a week, a Major League Baseball game isn't available on TV because Facebook has the rights. It's a difficult experience.
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer

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I had no idea.

After all, Facebook is always insisting that it isn't part of the media, and I always believe what Mark Zuckerberg tells me.

Yet I was alerted to this odd event on Twitter by the San Francisco Chronicle's Giants wonderful beat writer, Henry Schulman.

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"BY POPULAR DEMAND!!! Tomorrow's #SFGIants game is on Facebook only!!! You have to have an account to watch!!!! Mike Krukow will join Eric Byrnes and play-by-play man Rich Waltz for the call! I know! I'm excited too/11111."

In case you missed the subtleties, he wasn't excited.

Facebook, you see, has the rights to broadcast one Major League Baseball game a week.

I cannot confirm that Vladimir Putin specifically asked for this. I note, though, that Wednesday's game between my San Francisco Giants and the Arizona Diamondbacks was a day game, which meant it began late in the evening, Moscow time.

Perfect to accompany a snifter of bison grass vodka, surely.

Perhaps you, like I before this moment, have never watched a baseball game on Facebook. After all, for this game, only around 30,000 people were watching at any time.

So, I'd like to help you understand the differences between baseball broadcast live on a non-medium and the full metal media TV variety.

I clicked on the Facebook Watch button and was confronted by the default version.

This consisted of a smallish TV screen on the left and a scrolling mess on the right. There, people offered wisdoms such as "Go DBacks!" and "I love baseball."

I didn't love this. Especially as animated emoji were drifting from the bottom right of the live video portion of the broadcast, all the way to the top, like balloons that just wanted to get out of here.

Why were they there? It seems that Facebook desperately wants you to emote via emoji.

Your choices, presented with large emoji icons along the bottom of the screen were, from left to right: Like, love, haha, wow, sad, and angry.

Like, wow, this didn't make me love or even haha. It made me sad, lurching toward angry.

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Please, I just wanted to watch the game. The announcers -- the Giants' own Mike Krukow, former Diamondback Eric Byrnes and play-by-play man Rich Waltz -- are perfectly good to listen to.

Why was I being subjected to all this extraneous nonsense? Because I was on Facebook, that's why.

Mercifully, the broadcast didn't have ads. Less mercifully, Facebook therefore needs you to "like," be "sad," or be "angry." These aren't emotions. They're data.

How could I get away from this madness, this badness? I scrolled around and discovered I could enter the so-called Quiet Mode.

This would surely be better. It was. The screen got bigger, as the scrolling bilge on the right disappeared. Was it, though, absolutely quiet? Of course it wasn't.

The announcers were still there, which was just fine. So, however, were the emoji icons, which made me lean in toward angry. Remember, Facebook just can't quit you, so it really wants to make it hard for you to quit it and its little quirks.

At one point, for example, Hunter Pence came in to bat for San Francisco. Helpfully, Facebook projected a sample of his Instagram account onto the screen. (Stunningly, Facebook owns Instagram.)

Once in a while, I switched back to Loud Mode, just to remind myself how painful it was.

At a moment late in the game, Major League Baseball itself intoned in the scrolling twaddle with this deep thought: "Bottom 9, Giants down 2. Will SF get the runs they need or will the D-backs hold it down?"

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The Giants got the runs they needed. I, however, had trouble holding it down.

I understand that this is the future that's being imposed upon us and that baseball is desperate to appeal to the younger, more impatient sorts who need to be emoting publicly every three seconds.

But for this to be the only way to watch my team play, well, it was a touch too much wow, not enough like, and a complete dearth of love.

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