Another fine example of TV having too much power over the subject it’s covering is on not-so-proud display courtesy of Major League Baseball.
Gone are the days of afternoon World Series games. Gone are the days of not seeing players wearing headscarves to protect themselves from 30-something degree temperatures as the clock approaches midnight on the field. But here’s what really is beyond frustrating about locked television schedules as it pertains to the World Series:
If the Royals and Mets clinch today — and who could have pictured this matchup even 13 months ago — Game 1 of said Series will begin six days from now on Tuesday, October 27th. And if that series goes seven games, you can start celebrating Mickey (Daniel) Murphy as Mr. November on the 4th of that decidedly-non-baseball month. You may also see the first championship in baseball ever decided with flurries in the air. Good times!
The sensible thing, of course, is for Major League Baseball and Fox Sports to get together and say, “OK… we can just move this thing up to this Saturday. It still gives each team three days rest and keeps the momentum of this incredible postseason going. But if we take off six days and allow this thing to extend days in November, that can’t be a good thing.”
That’s logic. But money strips away that thought process, particular in professional sports. To that end, Fox Sports Media Group (FSMG), Turner and ESPN are paying $12.4 billion for rights fees over an 8-year contract. That’s a 100 percent increase over the last deal MLB scored. And at that price tag, you can bet Fox is going to maximize its audience via arranging a schedule around two Tuesdays (Games 1 and 6) and Wednesdays (Games 2 and 7) to ensure (A) weekday nights—which always outdraw weekends outside of Fridays—are in play prominently here. By following logic and moving the series up to this Saturday, suddenly there’s a possible four games on weekends. You can argue Sunday is a huge night for television, but the days of the NFL bowing to MLB on Sunday night are over. And guess what? The NFL doesn’t have to and hasn’t for years, and in 2014, Packers-Saints on Sunday night on NBC beat Royals-Giants on Fox by 39 percent.
The Royals could be heading back to the World Series with a victory this afternoon in Toronto. The Mets could knock out my Cubbies by taking a broom to Wrigley Field.
Champagne corks could be flying. Baseball will dominate water cooler conversations tomorrow (although I have yet to witness one conversation that ever occurred around the Poland Spring thing, like, ever). And then, as one day after the other goes by without baseball—nearly a week—the two teams will finally do battle in conditions that may look and feel anything like baseball.
Moving the series up would make sense for the teams and fans alike. But there’s about 12.4 billion reasons why that won’t happen now or forever in the new TV-first revenue landscape of America’s (former) Pastime.
Follow Joe Concha on Twitter @JoeConchaTV
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.