In March, I did a column asking why MLB didn’t take advantage of the Sunday in between the Final Four semis on Saturday and the national championship game on Monday.
MLB has scheduled 14 openers on Monday, and all but three are at night. Many of those fans will be working or commuting home during those games. It never made sense to me that this glorious day always is on a weekday.
Here’s a way to remedy the situation: MLB should schedule a grand Opening Day festival on the Sunday between the NCAA Final Four semifinals on Saturday and the title game on the following Monday. Start with noon games in the East and go through ESPN’s Sunday night telecast.
Technically, there will be an opener on Sunday night, as St. Louis-Cubs kick off the 2015 season on ESPN. That’s great, but what about the rest of the day?
From a TV perspective, the Sunday afternoon on Final Four weekend might be the deadest of the year. It definitely is my least favorite. After several Sundays of March Madness, there’s the letdown of not having any big college basketball games to watch. It is the Sunday before the Masters, so no compelling golf. The NBA and NHL are grinding down their endless regular-seasons, desperately waiting for the infusion of the energy that comes with the playoffs.
Meanwhile, if the weather holds true to form, the false spring will prevent a significant portion of the country, including those stuck in Chicago, from enjoying outdoor activities. Like me, they are homebound just dying to watch some interesting sports programming on this empty Sunday.
Given all those variables, it makes so much sense for MLB to go with wall-to-wall openers on that Sunday. Baseball fans would devour a slate of Sunday Opening Day games, and a high volume of non-traditional viewers likely would tune in because the sports TV programming is so weak on that day. Who knows, perhaps some of them would get hooked and become more avid baseball fans?
Well lo and behold, somebody liked my idea. This just came in from ESPN:
ESPN will televise seven 2016 MLB Opening Day Games during the first two days of the regular season, highlighted by an exclusive national presentation of the New York Mets at the Kansas City Royals in a World Series rematch on SundayNight Baseball, Apr. 3, at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.
ESPN’s Opening Day coverage on Sunday, Apr. 3, will include two new afternoon windows. ESPN will televise a NL Opening Day showdown at 1 p.m. as the Pittsburgh Pirates host the St. Louis Cardinals. ESPN2 will then showcase a meeting between the Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays from Tropicana Field at 4 p.m.
On Monday, Apr. 4, ESPN will be home to an Opening Day quadrupleheader, beginning at 1 p.m. when the New York Yankees host the Houston Astros in a rematch of the 2015 AL Wild Card Game. From there, the Texas Rangers will host the Seattle Mariners at 4 p.m. (ESPN), and the Los Angeles Dodgers will visit the San Diego Padres at 7 p.m. (ESPN). The seven-game, two-day Opening Day slate will conclude at 10 p.m. when the Chicago Cubs visit the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (ESPN2).
Now I still would do more openers on Sunday, when more people are home. But at least there will be two afternoon games to watch on that day.
If MLB needs more assistance, they know where to find me.