Major League Baseball finished its regular season today, as the final pieces of the playoff puzzle were put in place, and yet, here were are at 8:00PM Eastern Daylight Time on Sunday night and there still has been no announcement from baseball on the times for the two League Divisional Series, which begin on Wednesday .
The lack of an immediate announcement is puzzling to say the least; it sometimes seems that baseball intentionally wants to take a back seat to the National Football League in the fall.
In the American League, the New York Yankees are the wild card and will play the American League Central Minnesota Twins, and the American League East champion Tampa Bay Rays will have the home field advantage in taking on the Texas Rangers.
Over in the National League, the Atlanta Braves clinched the wild card today with a win over the Philadelphia Phillies and will play the National League West San Francisco Giants and the Phillies will host the Cincinnati Reds.
For some unknown reason, however, baseball still hasn’t released the time of the games, with its website listing the days of each game, but ‘TBD’ (to be determined) for the time on each of the games.
Baseball, and its network partners TBS and Fox, will often try to shift the post season around to feature the most compelling matchups and the marquee teams (particularly the New York Yankees), in order to maximize ratings. While there were still several open questions earlier today as to who would even make the playoffs and where each team would be seeded (for example, the Yankees today won the Wild Card and the Rays took the division, but it could have been the other way around), as soon as the final game is over, the matchups were known.
One would think that baseball would be ready to instantly release the playoff schedule and let the nation know when each team would be playing and what time the first pitch would be thrown. There were, after all, only so many possible combinations of teams at the beginning of the day, and as soon as the San Diego Padres were eliminated, a schedule could have been announced.
Further confusing matters is that ESPN, which is a regular season partner of Major League Baseball, actually has a very different daily schedule than the Major League Baseball website does. It would seem likely that many, if not most, are heading to the ESPN website and getting information that is completely inaccurate.
While baseball is no longer the number one sport in the country, it is still immensely popular. It does, however, struggle with post season ratings as the sport tends to lend itself to regional followings of individual teams. As teams are eliminated during the regular season and then in the playoffs, the individual fans of those teams often leave the scene and return only if the World Series goes six or seven games.
Baseball needs to promote itself better in a variety of ways, but it could start with the basics. Do not make your fans wait around and search to find out starting times for the Divisional Series and the rest of the playoffs. Major League Baseball should announce its playoff schedules, and times, as soon as the matchups are certain and make it easily accessible to the public.
Source: Major League Baseball Website