The MLB on TBS is often maligned for not necessarily seeming like a year-round baseball network that then jumps head-first into the deep end once the playoffs come around. The network only airs a dozen regular season games, and on Sunday afternoons, before taking a Wild Card game, two division series and a league championship series. It’s a lot of baseball after months and months of not a lot of baseball.
I think most baseball fans would argue, however, that TBS did a pretty decent job this postseason. While we all acknowledge that their A-team needs some work (Ernie Johnson is a terrific broadcaster, but baseball play-by-play is not his best event in the decathlon) they put on a pretty solid broadcast. The studio team was once again a huge highlight — we need more Pedro Martinez in our lives — and the Brian Anderson-headlined secondary broadcast crew were often deserving of a bigger role.
TBS is also having a solid postseason from a ratings perspective. Entering Wednesday’s Game 4, the network was averaging a 3.3 rating and 5.3 million viewers for the Royals/Orioles American League Championship Series. That was actually up six percent in ratings and 13 percent in viewers from last year’s Dodgers/Cardinals National League Championship Series, which TBS aired exclusively in most of the same timeslots. The series has (so far) peaked with 6.0 million viewers for Game 3. This followed a Wild Card and Division Series where TBS saw increases for six of their seven broadcasts.
So of course it would stand to reason that this will be TBS’ shortest postseason ever in their eight years broadcasting October baseball. Under the new deal, the network can air between 11 and 18 games. All three of their series — the two ALDS and ALCS — were sweeps, so they ended up with a minimum of 11. This after a 2013 post-season where they got a six-game NLCS and all five LDS series went five games.
Sometimes in sports media, you just don’t get as many games as you want. It would’ve been really interesting to see how high the network could’ve gone for a legitimately competitive ALCS. Oh well, we’ll always have next October, and we’ll always have Pedro.