I have a question about something. A couple of questions, actually.
At a little after 2:00 p.m. this afternoon, word began to trickle down from various media sources -- including MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan -- that Game 2 of the ALCS, a game scheduled to be played at 7:07 p.m. tonight, would be postponed until Monday. About five minutes after those rumors began to propagate, the game was officially postponed and rescheduled to be played at 3:19 p.m. Monday, marking the third weekday afternoon ALCS game to be played during this coming week.
This postponement was ordered while the sun still shone brightly in Arlington. During the accompanying press conference, Nolan Ryan cited the threat of unpredictable "pop-up showers" impacting tonight's game and triggering another series of flow-disrupting rain delays during the course of Game 2, and remarked that baseball had made the best decision for both the players and the fans.
Except that by 5:00 p.m., the forecasted probability of rain had plunged from 50-plus percent to roughly 10-25 percent during the 7-11 p.m. window, with the probability of rain falling at the Ballpark during any given hour during that window averaging just 15 percent. By 7:00 p.m., the skies above the Ballpark remained clear, and though showers did end up forming in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area beyond that point, they pushed east of the Dallas-Tarrant County line by around 8:00 p.m. -- just as the National Weather Service in Fort Worth predicted would be the case as early in the afternoon as 1:00 p.m., or more than an hour before baseball made the call to nix Game 2.
As of 9:00 p.m., there was no rain falling within close proximity of the Ballpark, and it was painfully apparent that the game could have been played to completion without atmospheric interference. To add to the sting of it all, thousands -- hundreds of thousands? -- of Rangers fans would be precluded from attending or watching or otherwise following Game 2 as a function of that mid-afternoon start time, leaving ticketholders with the unpalatable options of (a) cutting away from their work/school/family obligations in the middle of a weekday afternoon, which for many is not feasible; (b) reselling their tickets at a potentially substantial loss on the secondary ticket market, or (c) eating the cost of their tickets altogether.
So, we have a couple of different questions on the table here: first, why did baseball render such an early decision on the postponement issue, and second, why are the Rangers and Tigers playing three weekday afternoon LCS games while the Brewers and Cardinals are playing none?
To that first question, I lack an adequate answer. Do you remember the only time in at least the last five years that a Rangers home game was postponed this early? If you don't, I do -- it was April 24th, 2007, or one of only a couple of days in the last 25 years to effectuate a "high-risk" severe weather forecast from the Storm Prediction Center for the greater Dallas/Fort Worth area. That evening's game was cancelled at right around 1:45 p.m. in the afternoon, and was clearly done so out of an abundance of concern for player and fan safety. There's no such threat in play with this current weather system, and judging by some of the quotes that filtered down from the Rangers' groundscrew after the fact, it doesn't appear that this was a case of compromised field quality driving the postponement. And as for the radar setup at the time of the postponement, well ...
To that second question, I believe I've formulated a decent guess. I speculated a few days ago that the reason why the Rangers/Tigers got the shaft as far as receiving mid-afternoon start times for Games 4 and 5 was because FOX preferred to run the higher-rated "X-Factor" out there during their primetime slots on Wednesday and Thursday, and because baseball, adamantly opposed to overlapping playoff games as it is, decided it would be easier to yield to FOX's wishes than to fight them tooth and nail for a more equitable solution -- such as, say, giving each series one afternoon game during the week.
And now, tomorrow, you have FOX running out new episodes of the underperforming "Terra Nova" and the should-have-been-cancelled-a-while-back "House" during Monday primetime, with Game 2 of the Cardinals/Brewers NLCS matchup already being set for Monday night. Again, you have FOX presumably pushing to run its own original programming (even though there's at least a decent chance that Rangers/Tigers would outdraw "Terra Nova"), and you have baseball more willing to give the Tigers' and Rangers' fan bases the shaft than to cannibalize its own TV ratings by running two playoff games concurrently.
This isn't a one-party problem so much as it is a systemic failure on the part of the singularly ratings-minded FOX network -- which purchased a share of the playoff baseball TV rights along with TBS, and now refuses to give those games precedence over its own programming -- and Major League Baseball, which, based on some of its past press releases on the matter, is more concerned about being able to flaunt incremental gains in its post-season TV ratings than it is about catering to the fans that enable the existence of their product in the first place. But to quote Adam on the issue ... well, what else is new?
No other major American professional sport plays championship games on weekday afternoons. The Rangers and Tigers will play three such games this week. Something about this is just terribly, terribly wrong.