FOX, MLB Drop Ball on Saturday TV
In Atlanta, the Braves will hold a lengthy pregame tribute to retiring manager Bobby Cox before trying once again to ensure they send him out with another trip to the postseason with a game against the Phillies that has huge wild card implications.
In San Francisco, the Padres and Giants will continue their battle for the NL West title, with the Giants once again able to clinch if they win. The Padres kept them from doing so Friday night in a tense, tightly contested game.
Both of those contests will begin at 4:10 p.m. ET and be televised by FOX -- as they should be, considering they're the only games that matter of the 15 on the schedule today when it comes to determining who makes the playoffs. But a huge chunk of the country's population won't see either game.
Why? The never-ending Yankees-Red Sox fixation, naturally.
FOX's exclusive national window features three broadcasts that will be parceled out around the country. The two that matter, and the first game of a Yankees-Red Sox doubleheader.
It's no big deal that FOX is televising Yanks-Sox (and sending its top broadcast team, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, to call the game). The problem is how FOX has chosen to distribute who will see that game. Of course both teams have national fan bases, but there's no reason for this one to be shown outside New York, New England and maybe New Jersey.
FOX obviously doesn't agree. So baseball fans in Detroit, instead of watching one of the games that will impact who is playing next week, will get Yankees-Sox. Same for baseball fans in Cleveland, in Minneapolis, in Tampa, in Miami, in Houston, in pretty much all of North and South Dakota, and -- perhaps most bizarrely -- in Seattle.
Check out the map. Even in the middle of what has otherwise been deemed Braves-Phillies country, the Parkersburg, W.Va.-Marietta, Ohio metropolitan area will get Yankees-Sox.
What if you've paid for MLB's Extra Innings cable or satellite package, or subscribe to MLB.tv to watch games online? Doesn't matter. On Saturday afternoons, FOX makes the call on what game you will watch, and there are no alternatives.
It doesn't make any sense. Just dollars, as usual.
Look, we all know the Yankees and Red Sox typically draw larger audiences than other teams. But at some point, the games that matter have to take precedence. And this is that point.
It's the final Saturday of the season and the Giants and Braves could both clinch playoff spots today. If you're in St. Louis, you'll be able to watch the Braves' efforts at doing so in full. If you're in Kansas City, you won't.
As marketing strategies go, MLB certainly could do better.