There’s no question that the National Football League is America’s most popular sport, and Major League Baseball doesn’t want baseball fans to have to choose between pro football and the World Series.
For the first time in 24 years, baseball’s World Series will open on a Tuesday (Oct. 21), according to the postseason schedule laid out by MLB on Thursday, a move that will considerably limit the number of times that baseball and pro football clash during the Fall Classic.
Under the previous schedule that started on a Wednesday and set its seventh game for a Thursday, there was the potential for four World Series games to go up against NFL action — two on Thursday (Games 2 and 7) and one each on Sunday (Game 4) and Monday (Game 5).
And in 2014, that would have meant baseball’s championship round would have opposed a “Thursday Night Football” game on CBS (featuring Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos), a “Monday Night Football” game on ESPN (featuring the popular Dallas Cowboys) and potentially a second “Thursday Night Football” game (this one on NFL Network only).
Instead, the new World Series schedule that starts on a Tuesday and sets its seventh game on a Wednesday means that only a Game 5 (if needed in the best-of-seven series) will go up against the NFL: opposite NBC’s juggernaut “Sunday Night Football” (on Oct. 26).
Up until a few years ago, the NFL did not schedule a “Sunday Night Football” game opposite the World Series. But as the league has grown increasingly popular, it became confident enough to slate a game against the Fall Classic — and usually beat it in the process.
Major League Baseball traditionally scheduled its World Series to start on Saturdays from 1985 to 2006 (it began on a Tuesday in 1990 only because an early-season lockout delayed the start of the playoffs). It then moved to a higher-profile Wednesday start date in 2007.
This year’s baseball postseason gets underway on Tuesday, Sept. 30 with the American League Wild-Card game on TBS, followed the next night by the National League wild-card game on ESPN. (ESPN would also show any possible tie-breaker games on Monday, Sept. 29.)
Fox Sports 1 enters the action this year and will televise games in the National League Division Series and up to five games of the National League Championship Series.
TBS will air every game of the American League Championship Series, and Fox will again show all of the World Series.
Game times will be announced at a later date.
KEY POSTSEASON DATES
A.L. Wild Card — Tuesday, Sept. 30 (TBS)
N.L. Wild Card — Wednesday, Oct. 1 (ESPN)
American League Division Series (both) — begins Thursday, Oct. 2 (TBS)
National League Division Series (both) — begins Friday, Oct. 3 (Fox Sports 1)
American League Championship Series — begins Friday, Oct. 10 (TBS)
National League Championship Series — begins Saturday, Oct. 11 (Fox)
World Series — begins Tuesday, Oct. 21; potential Game 7 on Wednesday, Oct. 29 (Fox)