Forty years ago the NFL had the “Heidi” game. Major League Baseball now has the “Harvey” game.
TBS had technical difficulties that prevented it from showing the first 20 minutes of Game 6 of the American League Championship Series between Boston and Tampa Bay on Saturday night.
In place of the game, TBS showed an episode of “The Steve Harvey Show.” A crawl on the screen ran repeatedly, saying: “We are experiencing technical difficulties.”
The game started at 8:08 p.m., but the broadcast didn’t begin until 8:28 p.m., when Carlos Pena, the seventh batter of the game, walked in the bottom of the first. TBS then showed a replay of a home run by B.J. Upton, the previous batter, that put the Rays ahead 1-0.
TBS had experienced router failure in Atlanta, which caused transmission problems, Rays spokesman Dave Haller said.
Major League Baseball spokesman Rich Levin said MLB was unaware there was a problem until the broadcast failed to come on the air. No consideration was given to delaying the start of the game because the starting pitchers already had warmed up, Levin said.
When the top of the second inning began, broadcaster Chip Caray said: “We again apologize profusely for the technical difficulties we had back in Atlanta. You haven’t missed much.”
Tampa Bay, seeking its first World Series appearance, led the best-of-seven series 3-2 after wasting a 7-0, seventh-inning lead in Game 5 and losing 8-7 to the defending champion Red Sox.
At the Cask N Flagon outside Fenway Park, manager Mike Fusco said the hour — from the pregame show until the game was restored — “wasn’t real fun.”
“People were in a little uproar because they thought we didn’t put the game on. They were just screaming at us to put it on and try all the other stations — Fox, TNT,” Fusco said.
Finally, Fusco said the staff had to use a PA system to explain the technical problems to the capacity crowd of 700.
Some customers yelled for them to at least put the game on the radio, but the bar didn’t have one.
“Steve Harvey” wasn’t the only filler TBS used while trying to restore its feed, lost toward the end of the pregame broadcast. At that time, TBS ran a snippet, aptly enough, of the Dick Clark-hosted “TV’s Bloopers & Practical Jokes.”