MLB Clashes With NCAAs on Opening Weekend
April 1, 2019

This new baseball schedule is a little sad. It's understandable though—players wanted more off days, and rather than play the World Series in November, they are starting the season in March. It's just that the old system used to time out perfectly, especially when it came to the end of college basketball.

For many years, up until two years ago, Opening Day was a Monday. ESPN had its Sunday night opener, with no other games in any sport to deflect attention, followed by the full slate of games the next day. That night, the NCAA championship basketball game took center stage, with just about all the baseball games wrapped up (unless the Oakland A's opened at home. They would play a night game opposite the basketball game, which was stupid, but that was their choice).

Now, you have to pick your poison. Most sports fans probably would go with basketball, and the round they call the Sweet 16. Those games were in the late afternoon and evening Pacific Time. Thursday wasn't too bad. There were nine baseball games that started at 1pm, meaning the early NCAA game was still in the first half when most of those games concluded. Friday, on the other hand, you just had to pick. Or have a lot of TVs, or be a master with the clicker and the DVR.

If you were watching baseball, you likely missed top seeds Gonzaga, North Carolina, and Duke get beet in the Elite Eight. Maybe you heard that Virginia had to go overtime to avoid being the other top seed to exit, and tuned in, Or maybe you were watching basketball, and missed Bryce Harper's Philadelphia debut, Paul Goldschmidt go deep three times in one game in Milwaukee, or the Dodgers setting a Major League record by clubbing eight home runs in the first game of a season.

It really shouldn't be this way, but what do you do to fix it? Another beauty about the old baseball schedule is that those Sunday night baseball openers were on the day between the Final Four and the Championship game. A perfect spot. If you were to move baseball back a few more days and start on Monday, that would be great except a Sunday opener would be opposite basketball.

Since baseball players gripe about the schedule anyway, why not give them two more days off a year, and start the season on a Tuesday (yes, we'd be talking March 26, which means a greater chance of snow in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Colorado, Detroit, Minnesota, New York, and other places, but we're only talking about two days here)? ESPN could have a Monday national opener and still not conflict with the tournament.

That's still not the best of ideas, though, because the first weekend of the baseball season would still have college basketball going on. At least, however, maybe the pomp and excitement of Opening Day may have worn off a little, though.

If you go back several more years to that first week of April, you'd find that the Oscars were on that Sunday. Saturday was the Final Four, Sunday was the Academy Awards, Monday was the NCAA championship game, and most baseball teams opened on Tuesday. That however, was too perfect, and ABC (with the Oscars), and ESPN (doing a Sunday baseball opener) put a stop to that.

It's kind of like when you see a commercial for a product you already use, and it says 'new and improved'. You immediately wonder what was wrong with the way it was. They always have to try to fix it, even if it wasn't broken in the first place.

The name game: We so love corporate sponsors getting to put their names on ball parks, don't we? This year, the home of the Seattle Mariners is now T-Mobile Park instead of Safeco Field, and no, the San Francisco Giants didn't move to Oakland, but they now play in Oracle Park, instead of A-T-and-T Park (which was originally called Pac Bell Park). To thoroughly confuse you, the Golden State Warriors, who play basketball in Oakland, play at Oracle Arena, but will be moving to a new arena in San Francisco next year.

Pitcher's duel: It wasn't exactly the Revolutionary War era, and maybe a little bit of a different take on history, but an early-American event was re-recreated in Kansas City. White Sox pitcher Ryan Burr faced Royals hitter Billy Hamilton. Hamilton flied out, giving Burr the spoils of victory... There was a better matchup that had two chances to occur in Milwaukee, but didn't. I'm still waiting for the Brewer's Josh Hader to face Harrison Bader of the Cardinals. It's not exactly Danny Kaye's Miller-Hiller-Haller Hallelujah Twist, but who wouldn't want to see Hader-Bader?

More absurdity: It's too bad former Red Sox and Giants infielder Bill Mueller retired several years ago. I would have liked to have seen his report.

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