October 12, 2011

The Sked: MLB Postseason Hell

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Written by: Mitch Salem
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The Postseason just keeps getting worse for MLB and its broadcast partners FOX and TBS.  ALCS Game 4 in Detroit was supposed to have started shortly after 4 pm ET today, but it was raining in Detroit.  FOX is now saying the game should start at 6:30 pm ET, just in time to make another mess of its primetime schedule (like Monday) and to destroy the ratings of the National League game (Milwaukee at St Louis at 8 pm ET on TBS). 

FOX’s immediate concern has to be tonight’s X Factor, scheduled for 8-10 pm.  The game — if it starts on time and is not interrupted by more rain — should end sometime after 10 pm, completely wiping out any chance of airing The X Factor.  No word yet how FOX will handle tonight’s episode and manage the rest of the run of the series.  Without a marquee team like the Yankees or Phillies in the running, the LCS and World Series numbers will be NHL-like.  Add in the schedule confusion and viewer frustration and FOX must be seriously wondering if baseball is worth it.

TBS was already looking at a terrible number tonight.  Sunday afternoon’s Game 1 of the NLCS managed a 1.0 rating (ugh), and Monday night’s Game 2, trampled by FOX’s primetime runover of its 11-inning game, could only muster a 0.8 (pathetic).  Tonight’s game could be literally a perfect game, and the rating would still be minuscule.

There is no bigger baseball fan than I am, but this Postseason points to everything that’s wrong with the sport.  Only a few teams people care about.  Rain delays.  Extremely long games that are subject to late October weather.  A scheduling nightmare for the networks that are supposed to boost the sport.  Long series with only a small chance that we will be treated to playoff-like Games 7. 

Major League Baseball insists that these games are not the “playoffs” but rather “the postseason” because the format is technically not a playoff-format.  Well, that playoff format works pretty well for the NFL.  It might be time for the sport — the one that eschews change — to do something radical and adopt something like a sudden-death playoff format.  Something’s got to be done.  Otherwise, no broadcast network is going to be interested in carrying this sport much longer. 

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."