Fox showing Kurt Busch's first pitch.

Ahead of the San Francisco Giants’ home game Thursday against the Colorado Rockies, veteran NASCAR driver Kurt Busch threw out the first pitch. That made sense, with Busch racing in the Toyota/SaveMart 350 at Sonoma Raceway Sunday. And there’s an argument for why Fox Sports, the broadcaster of Saturday’s Giants’ game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, decided to show the clip of Busch throwing out the first pitch Thursday during Saturday’s broadcast; they’re carrying Sunday’s race (the final one of their half of the NASCAR season before NBC picks it up next week), so there’s some logical cross-promotion there.

But Fox did so without mentioning that the clip was from Thursday. And that sparked some particular annoyance from fans considering that Saturday was Pride Day at Oracle Park (with both teams wearing Pride logos on jerseys and caps) and that Jeopardy! champion Amy Schneider (the first transgender Jeopardy contestant to compete in the Tournament of Champions) threw out Saturday’s first pitch (which was not shown or mentioned on the Fox broadcast). Here’s what Fox showed of Busch’s pitch on Saturday’s broadcast:

After some ad reads, Fox play-by-play voice Adam Amin (calling this game alongside A.J. Pierzynski) describes this with “Kurt Busch threw out the first pitch. Of course, we’ve got the NASCAR race tomorrow coming up from Sonoma. You’ll see that on the Fox networks.” It’s not explicitly stated that “Kurt Busch threw out the first pitch today,” but that’s absolutely the inference from that description and from it being shown on this broadcast. But here’s the actual first pitch Saturday, from Schneider:

A further interesting detail to this is that Busch’s first pitch, not Schneider’s, wound up in at least one local newscast’s coverage of Saturday’s Dodgers-Giants game. That was the Saturday evening news on CBS affiliate KBAK 29/Fox affiliate KBFX Fox 58 in Bakersfield, CA.

“The big Cali rivalry between NorCal and SoCal, the Dodgers and Giants, game two of the series this afternoon. And there’s NASCAR driver Kurt Busch throwing the first pitch.”

But it was well-documented that Busch’s pitch took place on Thursday, not Saturday. Here are the videos Busch posted to Instagram Thursday and Friday about his first pitch:


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A post shared by Kurt Busch (@kurtbusch)


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A post shared by Sonoma Raceway (@racesonoma)

And Busch’s appearance Thursday wasn’t limited just to that moment, either. He spoke with NBC Sports Bay Area about the upcoming race, and also appeared on the Rockies’ telecast:

So Busch doing this Thursday wasn’t exactly off the radar. And that led to more criticism for Fox when they showed this Saturday and implied that it happened in the game they were broadcasting.

First pitches aren’t always shown on a broadcast, so the Fox move here wasn’t necessarily an intentional minimization of Schneider. If they hadn’t shown any first pitch at all, there wouldn’t be much discussion here. Similarly, if they’d correctly identified Busch’s first pitch as coming on Thursday (which would have been easy: just change Amin’s line from “Kurt Busch threw out the first pitch” to “Kurt Busch threw out the first pitch here Thursday against the Rockies,” or something of the sort), there wouldn’t be a ton of talk here. It’s certainly not the first time Fox has used someone at a game to promote something else coming up on Fox, and Busch actually throwing out a first pitch (even if it happened two days earlier) makes that more relevant than most cases of “Look, it’s [actor on Fox show] in the stands!” But the Fox broadcast’s specific handling of this, especially with the lack of clarity on when this happened (and the implication it was from the current game), was a bad look for Fox, and one that drew them a lot of backlash.

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.