Players and managers used words like “chaos” and “crazy” to describe a day that no baseball has ever seen. A television network will break new ground to cover it, and hardcore fans across the country can immerse themselves in it almost all day, if they wish.
It’s the very first Wild Wednesday, an orgiastic, 13-hour baseball-a-thon, in which Major League Baseball will roll out a unique series of eight playoffs on a high-stakes virtual conveyor belt.
It starts at 12:00 Eastern Time in Atlanta, with the next five games scheduled to begin every hour until the Yankees play in Cleveland at 19:00 Eastern Time, and it lasts until the last pitch is thrown in Los Angeles between the Dodgers and Brewers, probably around 1 p.m. and half of them will be elimination matches.
“It’s going to be crazy,” said Chicago White Sox pitcher Dallas Keuchel, who will strike in today’s third game against athletics in Oakland. “It’s almost like a messy mess.”
Tuesday was the warm-up when baseball turned the page from a shortened regular season to one extended mail season. There were four American League playoff games scheduled for Tuesday, starting with the Houston Astros against the Minnesota Twins in Minneapolis.
But on Wednesday, when the National League joins the fray, the curtain will rise on the main stage for what looks more like the first days of the NCAA basketball tournament than a traditional playoff baseball day.
“March Madness is one of my favorite times of the year,” said Dusty Baker, the Astros boss, who leads his fifth different team for the record season. “This is like September Madness.”
The crazy schedule is the result of both the recently expanded playoff format, with 16 teams qualifying for the first time instead of the 10 that had been in recent years. There is also a need to smash as many games as possible in a tight window – both to avoid excessive travel during the pandemic and to ensure that most of the mail season takes place in October.
Until this year, the busiest day in baseball’s post-season could mean that four division games are played competitively, after a couple of wild-card games to start the tournament. Now the eight best of three series are played simultaneously from coast to coast, and a limited time to push them in.
“It’s a sports fan’s dream,” said Matt Olson, Athletics’ first baseman.
All first-round matches will be played at the stadiums of the higher seeds, instead of the usual switching between the two teams’ parks, to avoid the risk of exposure to coronavirus through travel. MLB also realized that it was less important to give each team a potential home game without fans allowed in the stadiums.
The regular season ended on Sunday night, and the last 16 teams and their seedings were set. Chris Marinak, MLBs In addition to this, you need to know more about it.operations manager in charge of the planning, and his team had to work on hammering out a first-of-its-kind map.
“The puzzle of putting together the TV schedule was tough,” Marinak said. “There were many strangers who went in on the last day, and you want to make sure that each team gets the chance to show itself in front of a national audience. I think what we came up with is a good schedule. ”
ESPN and its affiliates will broadcast seven of the eight games on Wednesday, and TBS will broadcast the Toronto Blue Jays on the Tampa Bay Rays. If none of the American league teams sweeps their best of three series, there could be eight more games on Thursday.
“I think it’s going to be a great baseball day on Wednesday,” said Martin Maldonado, the Astros’ veteran catcher. “For people who love baseball, you can not ask for more.”
And just like the devoted fans of the sport, many players will also be tuned in.
“We will probably end our matches, go to the hotel and watch the other matches,” Maldonado said. “That’s who we are.”
For baseball, there is a chance to mimic the excitement of the first two days of the NCAA Tournament, with 16 games tipping off consecutive days starting late in the morning and running past midnight at various venues.
Baker said that when he failed in 2015 and 2018, he went to the Final Fours for men in Dallas and Indianapolis, and he called them the biggest sporting event he has ever been to. (Baker has made it to the World Series, so he probably thought he was a fan.)
The comparison with the college-hoops showcase event was not lost on Marinak. While the swirling sports calendar means baseball will not have the day to itself – Game 1 of the NBA Finals begins at 9pm on Wednesday – it will serve as a fierce jump start to the month-long record season.
“It has this idea of an insane opening a couple of days with a lot of action,” he said. “Anything can happen to start, and it creates a lot of interest and excitement.”
A signature feature of the college basketball tournament is how the various networks and platforms that broadcast the TV event switch from place to place to capture the most exciting or important moments.
ESPN will not do so as part of its main coverage, but it will offer a program on the ESPN + streaming platform called Squeeze Play, which will whip around from game to game with comments – similar to the NFL network’s Red Zone, except for the playoffs games.
Most of the play-by-play advertisers, plus Alex Rodriguez, the former player who is ESPN’s lead analyst, will be at the network’s main studios in Bristol, Conn. The rest of the analysts will broadcast their homes.
Kevin Cash, who manages the Rays against the Blue Jays in today’s fifth game on Wednesday, had a different comparison.
“College football,” he said. “It’s a game that starts at 12.00 and every hour after that. It will be like college football on Saturday for three days in baseball. ”