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The worst playoff series schedule of all time; or, how to watch the Indians and Astros in the ALDS

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I hope you didn’t want to watch this series that badly.

MLB: Houston Astros at Cleveland Indians David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Major League Baseball announced the start times for the entire ALDS today. Normally these posts are informative and give you an idea of how to watch the series, but once I present the following you’ll understand why this is going in an entirely different direction.

American League Division Series

Indians vs. Astros

  • Saturday, October 6 - Cleveland @ Houston
  • Monday, October 8 - Houston @ Cleveland
  • *Tuesday, October 9 - Houston @ Cleveland
  • *Thursday, October 11 - Cleveland @ Houston

Yankees vs. Red Sox

  • Friday, October 5 - New York @ Boston
  • Saturday, October 6 - New York @ Boston
  • Monday, October 8 - Boston @ New York
  • *Tuesday, October 9 - Boston @ New York
  • *Thursday, October 11 - New York @ Boston

* - If necessary

That’s right: the Red Sox and Yankees play all five games in primetime. The Astros and Indians — or, in other words, the last two teams in the American League to reach the World Series — play none.

It gets even worse. Between all of the divisional series games, there are only two that begin at 2:00 PM ET or earlier. Both of them are in the Indians-Astros series, both are guaranteed games, and neither take place on the weekend. My advice for those who want to listen discreetly while at work or will be stuck commuting — try to catch the radio broadcast or stream the audio on the At Bat app.

My guess is that Major League Baseball believes it’s “acting in the best interests of baseball” or something by placing “two of the most stories franchises in all of sports” in the national spotlight for five hours each night. I understand that this likely nets the league the most income from viewership and advertising. I anticipate that the individual games and overall series will be interesting.

All of that said, this is a terrible decision by baseball. It isn’t fair to the fans, most of whom will be stuck at work for the start of every game except game two, and some of whom bought tickets before knowing the start times would be abysmal. It isn’t fair to the players, who are not used to playing day games on a consistent basis and deserve to play in front of a full crowd. It isn’t fair to the teams, who use playoff appearances to grow their national brand, merchandise sales, and overall audience. This also applies to the players.

Things are slightly better in the National League. The Brewers and Rockies get one primetime game, on Monday. As they are in later time zones, I somewhat understand that side of the equation. Still, Houston is Central time just like Milwaukee.

The answer to the problem is a simple one. It is one that other leagues figured out a long, long time ago: just play the goddamn games at the same time. It’s 2018. Not only are today’s viewers capable of changing channels, but most have multiple screens and can watch both broadcasts simultaneously. If the league didn’t really think fans were capable of watching more than one game at once, then they wouldn’t offer the all-league MLB.tv package. I don’t know why they think the playoffs are any different.

No one seems to agree with MLB on this decision, either

If the league wanted to make a universally unpopular decision and piss of entire fanbases, they’ve nailed it. I haven’t found anybody on social media that thinks this is fair or reasonable at all. This includes Yankees and Red Sox fans.

It’s just disappointing. I expect the league to give most of the primetime slots to the “marquee” matchup, but screwing over on side of the playoff bracket entirely isn’t a great business decision, either.