FOX will air a handful of its Saturday games in prime time this year, and if it works they move the whole shebang into prime time next year, USA Today reports (Stop gawking at Erin Andrews and scroll down to the second story).
If they do that, they’re thinking about doing more renationalized games as opposed to the maybe two or three games they divy up across the country now. The thinking: prime time means better ratings and going more regional draws in more metropolitan areas, also leading to better ratings.
This may all work for FOX and might be better than the current day game setup, but I’m struggling to see how a national game of the week — even if its chopped up into a few regions — really accomplishes in this day and age.
Baseball is far more local a thing than the other sports, and unlike 15 or 20 years ago, nearly every baseball team is covered by a RSN of some kind that broadcasts virtually all of its games to its local area. Baseball obsessives like me, on the other hand, have the option of getting MLB.tv or Extra Innings to watch virtually every single game there is. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of unmet demand for baseball broadcasts.
What does the national broadcast add? Especially in light of baseball’s blackout rules. If Fox moves into the evening on a regular basis and the current rules stay in effect, there will be fewer games available to fans in the aggregate, and that rubs me the wrong way. It’d be less of a problem if fans could — as they do during ESPN’s weeknight broadcasts — switch between the national game and the local game at their leisure, but I doubt that’s in the cards with respect to the FOX games.
I’ll admit, I’m a simple caveman and the ways of broadcasting frighten and confuse me, so I might just be missing something critical here. It strikes me, however, that national broadcasts during the regular season are an anachronism. The casual fans have all of their home team’s games. The nuts have all 15 games a night. All of these games are being broadcast by knowledgeable and, for the most part, competent local crews. Why do I need Buck and McCarver and those guys in my living room once a week?
Earlier this week Tigers GM Al Avila said that his club was going to get “lean” and “efficient” and that their days of spending big money are over. Later in the week Avila said that they would not likely offer a long term contract to outfielder J.D. Martinez, who will become a free agent after the 2017 season.
None of those comments necessarily suggested that the Tigers would be conducting a fire sale or anything, and it’s certainly possible to get leaner while still competing. One would assume that the Tigers could cut fat in the middle but still head into battle with their superstars. But that may not be the plan. Buster Olney:
. . . the message being received from the rest of the industry is a dramatic shift for one of baseball’s oldest franchises: They will listen to trade offers on everybody.
Miguel Cabrera. Justin Verlander. Ian Kinsler.
Trading those guys would be a pretty big deal. In both senses of the term.
It would take a blockbuster-sized deal to move such players. Verlander is owed $28 million a year for the next three seasons and has a vesting option for 2020 at $22 million. Cabrera just finished the first year of an eight-year, $248 million deal that will be paying him more than $30 million a year between 2018 and 2023, with an $8 million buyout for 2024. And that’s before the fact that both Verlander and Cabrera are 10/5 guys with full no-trade protection if they choose to exercise it. Beyond that Kinsler is a relative bargain at $11 million in 2017 and a $10 million club option for 2018 with a $5 million buyout. Victor Martinez and Justin Upton are hanging around too.
But for as big a trade would have to be if any one of those guys were dealt, it’d be a bigger deal in terms of team philosophy and direction. Cabrera has confirmed his Hall of Fame credentials in his nine years in Detroit. He’s the best player to wear the English D since Al Kaline and has been the biggest star in the organization for most of a generation. Verlander is nearly as important and nearly as famous. I don’t think it’s likely the Tigers will move either of them because the logistics of such deals would be mind-boggling, but even entertaining deals for these guys would alter the course of the franchise for years and years to come. It happens to every franchise eventually, but I don’t think the Tigers fan base is prepared for it to happen to them yet.
Still: the free agent market is thinner that it has been at any time in years and years. Cabrera and Verlander, if they could be had, would be the biggest splashes any team looking to improve could possibly acquire. Kinselr would be a big get for anyone as well. Al Avila knows that. Even if he’s not ready to part with his superstars, he probably owes it to his organization to at least listen.
Major League Baseball just announced the broadcast schedule for both Games 6 and 7 (if necessary) of the NLCS and the entire World Series.
There are no surprises here. The World Series games are all on Fox. The pregame show starts at 7:30 and the games themselves start just after 8pm Eastern Daylight Time, regardless of whether it’s Chicago or Los Angeles representing the National League. For some reason Game five of the World Series, scheduled a week from Sunday if it comes to pass, starts seven minutes later than all of the other games. Maybe something super exciting will happen then.