The MLB playoffs start this Wednesday and the league released its postseason schedule tonight after the final teams and positions were determined today, the last day of the regular season.
Not surprisingly, the timing of the games is positioned to maximize television ratings; even though several of the games seem to be scheduled at counter-intuitive times as temperatures begin to drop now across the country.
Most notably is the opening of the American League Division Series. The New York Yankees will visit Target Field in Minneapolis to face the Minnesota Twins; first pitch is scheduled for 7:37 Central Time. Already in Minneapolis, nighttime low temperatures can get into the 30’s. Wednesday’s forecasted low is 47 degrees, which is hardly unplayable, but hardly optimal weather either.
Earlier in the day, however, the Tampa Bay Rays host the Texas Rangers at the indoor Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg with the first pitch scheduled for 1:37 Eastern Time. Given the daytime highs in Minneapolis are expected to be in the 60’s that day, it would really make the most sense, at least from a baseball and fan standpoint, to switch these starting times and allowing the Yankees and Twins to play in the warmer temperatures while the night game is played in the climate controlled dome.
Similarly, on Saturday, the Rays will visit warm weather Texas for a 4:07 Central Time start as the Yankees host the Twins that night at Yankee Stadium, with the first pitch scheduled for 8:37 PM. The temperatures this time of year in New York City are not generally as low as they are in Minneapolis, but, still, it is not at all unheard of for temperatures to reach into the low 40’s or even high 30’s.
This all said, baseball is a big business and MLB’s postseason schedule is based in no small way on the wishes of its television network partners. During the first round of the MLB postseason, the TBS network will cover all of the division series games and undoubtedly they are maneuvering the schedule with little regard for weather possibilities and instead are making sure that they get the sport’s biggest draw, the New York Yankees, on during a time when they will maximize their ratings.
Early October is generally not that bad for weather, but later in the month, as the League Championship Series play out and as the World Series start, and the season stretches into November solely for television purposes, we will be reminded once again that the MLB Playoff and Postseason schedule is devised to feed the beast that is big network demands.
The Weather Channel Website