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The Baseball Network (1994-1995)

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I mentioned it my last entry that I was running out of Redo ideas in my lifetime and then I realized I skipped over an obvious one in the 1995 A.L. MVP. I can't believe I missed it because I did the 1995 N.L. MVP already and it also gives me an opportunity to reminisce about one of the worst ideas since New Coke.

 

Edit: I've decided to do the 1995 A.L. MVP redo in a seperate entry that I'll do in the next day or two and leave this as an entry on it's own.

 

As I already mentioned on the redo of the 1995 N.L. MVP, we came incredibly close to replacement/scab players starting the season as the strike was still going in March. Although that embarassment was avoided for baseball another would pop up that October. The previous season a national television deal split between ABC and NBC had started which was called The Baseball Network. The name was purely for marketing reasons as there was no actual Baseball Network as all it was is ABC and NBC, I believe on a rotating basis, would have a Friday Night primetime game every week after the All-Star Break. Now there was no feature game as everyone just got a local game which the broadcast team being split between to local announcers of the two teams. It seemed very odd as what was the point of having a national game of the week if all you received was a local game? But the presentation of the games was inoffensive and I suppose it was nice to watch a local game with a national feel to it. The strike of course ended the 1994 season and there was no postseason to cover. The Baseball Network deal was still in place for 1995 and it was the same coverage for the regular season. But then came the postseason....

 

1995 was the first year that the new expanded playoffs would be used with the new five game divisonal round. The format for it initially was a nightmare as someone thought it was a good idea to pre-determine what divisions would play each other and what division would play the wild card team in the divisional rather than basing it on record. So for example in the A.L., the Mariners played the wild card Yankees despite having the worst record of the divison winners while the two best teams in the league, the Indians and Red Sox, were forced to play each other in the divisional playoffs. Then for the five game series they decided to go with the awful 2-3 format where the team with homefield would actually start the series on the road and then go home for three games if necessary.

 

But now onto the actual coverage of the playoffs. They decided that one network would host the entire divison round and then would switch to the other network for the league championship series. This seemed odd and unecessary and of course created an fairly obvious problem, as in how would they televise the entire division series on one network? The brilliant plan the came up with was schedule all four games at the same exact time, 8PM EST/5PM PST, and only provide a regional telecast. You have to stand in awe of the stupidity of this. The NBA could televise every single playoff game of a 16 team first round yet MLB could only figure out how to televise one game a night. So me being California I only was able to see the Dodgers/Reds series for the first three nights of the playoffs and nothing else.

 

Now I know what your thinking, or if you've forgotten, "now there's no way they did this for the league championships, right?" They did. The Reds/Braves and Mariners/Indians league championships series would be played at the exact same time, every night and the country would be split between them. I'm not even sure how they handled the Reds and Indians coverage. Can you imagine being an life long Indians fan, a franchise playing in it's first ever ALCS, living in Cincinnati and not being able to watch the game?

 

Thankfully The Baseball Network deal was only for two years and in 1996 a new deal started with Fox televising regular season games and then splitting the postseason with NBC. All division series games were televised but unfortunently we've been stuck with Fox ever since. But when we whine about the awful coverage of Fox or the fiasco with games being put on Fx and ABC Family channel in the past, just remember for one year it was much, much worse.

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