If you missed the ending of the fourth game of the National League Championship Series between Milwaukee and Los Angeles, which the Dodgers won 2-1 in 13 innings – don’t feel bad. Even though I had Fox Sports One on, I slept right through the end of the game myself, which took place someplace around 2:30am Eastern time this morning.
I’ve always thought baseball had the right proposal as to how to cover playoff games – but they had it in a format that was generally considered unreasonable for the game at the time. Yes friends, time to re-visit the ill-fated enterprise known as The Baseball Network from 1994 and 1995.
ABC and NBC shared this concept during those two seasons – and on given Saturday or Monday night, they would air all of the given MLB games that evening. Most would get their games starting at an 8:00pm Eastern time, while some games aired starting at 11:00pm that would air at 8:00pm Pacific with the three-hour time difference. The games were all regionalized – meaning various parts of the country would get different games. If you lived in the Tampa Bay area, as I did then and do now – we didn’t have the Rays yet, so we’d get either an Atlanta Braves or a Florida Marlins game.
No, I’m not inferring their regular-season format should be reinstituted. Not at all.
When the season got to the playoffs, TBN did something that was unprecedented to that point in baseball television history – in the first round, they would air all four games regionally and simultaneously. They’d all start at 8:00pm or so, and you saw the game in your region and only that game. If another game was more exciting and took longer to play, too bad – you only got to see the one game assigned to you.
It might be sensible for MLB to look into that again. With the proliferation of cable, smartphones, and the advent of the MLB Network, and considering what CBS and TBS have done with the NCAA basketball tournament by putting a game on up to four different channels at the same time, revisiting the “simultaneous start” format wouldn’t be a bad idea. What I’d propose is putting one game on FOX, another on TBS, another on FS1, and the fourth game on the MLB Network – something like that.
If the Tampa Bay Rays were to make the playoffs, I’d be interested in their games – not necessarily what was going on with the Houston Astros, or the Los Angeles Dodgers. I think fans my age or older get “tunnel vision” with their favorite teams, and would be a lot less likely to watch three or four playoff games on a given day anyways. Play the games all at once, and let the fans pick out the game they want to see on a given night.
I’d also look into starting the games earlier (say 7:30pm or thereabouts) so that if a game ran long, you’d still have a chance of getting a decent night’s rest.
With the NFL faltering a bit, but still reigning supreme in terms of the North American sports roost – it might not be a bad idea for MLB to shake things up.