Oh, what could have been for MLB and TBS.
If only the San Diego Padres had joined the Atlanta Braves in winning on the final day of Major League Baseball’s 2010 regular season, it would have set the stage for a pair of play-in games. (With the Tampa Bay Rays finally clinching the AL East title on Sunday afternoon, dropping the defending champion New York Yankees to the Wild Card slot, there was some compelling last-day drama in the junior circuit as well.)
That would have meant the Giants dropped three in a row at AT&T Park to San Diego and would have had to fly to Petco Park and play the Padres on Monday for NL West crown. No doubt that would have prompted play-by-play man Dick Enberg to exclaim “Oh My!” on Cox’s Channel 4 at least one last time. (Enberg lamented during his work for CBS on the U.S. Open about how the Padres went south in the standings during his trip to Flushing Meadows.)
In turn, the loser of that contest on Monday would have to hit the charter cross country to The Ted, where they would have faced Bobby Cox in his last-ditch stand to secure the Wild Card in his last go-round as skipper.
Instead, the San Francisco Giants blanked the Pods 3-0 and the Braves held off the Philadelphia Phillies 8-7 to capture the NL West and Wild Card, respectively.
TBS would have had all the action from Games 163 and 164, lead-ins of sort to its League Division Series coverage, which begins Wednesday.
Even if San Diego, which led the NL West for the lion’s share of the season, and Atlanta, which sat atop the NL East until the Phillies added Roy Oswalt and many of its injuries healed, had both lost, there would have been a play-in game between those clubs on Monday to determine the Wild Card berth.
Any such action would have marked the fourth consecutive year of what YES man Michael Kay likes to call free baseball. During its first year covering MLB’s post-season in 2007, TBC scored a 2.5 U.S. rating and 2.78 million homes with its coverage of the Colorado Rockies’ 9-8 win over the Padres in 13 innings to wrangle the Wild Card. The numbers grew to a 2.7 rating and 3.1 million homes when the Chisox topped the Minnesota Twins 1-0 on Sept. 30. 2008 to don the AL Central diadem.
Last year, the Twins made sure the Metrodome’s final campaign ended with a post-season showing, topping the Detroit Tigers 6-5 in 12 innings to capture the AL Central title, garnering a 4.1 rating and 4.68 million homes in the process.
The 6.5 million viewers for Minny’s win marked MLB’s best regular-season game in 2009 with the Nielsens, broadcast or cable, and the biggest MLB play-in audience other than the 1998 contest in which the Chicago Cubs beat the Giants to catch the NL Wild Card.