Well, Major League Baseball finally set the start times for the Division Series matchups, at least through Saturday, and it’s good news for A's fans. You won’t have to miss work on Friday to watch Game 1 of their series against the Tigers.
As the only team opening postseason play on the West Coast, the A’s will host the nightcap on both Friday and Saturday. First pitch in Game 1 is slated for Friday at 6:37 p.m., with Game 2 on Saturday at 6:07 p.m. Both contests will air on TBS, so yes, you will need cable or satellite to tune in. But at least TBS is readily available, unlike MLB Network which is not part of the basic package on some systems, like TBS is. The league’s own network gets to exclusively air two postseason contests, one Friday and one next Monday. You can see the schedule for all series, as far as we know them, here.
For those of us out West, those A’s start times are reasonable. For Tigers fans, not so much. They’ll be staying up past midnight, although at least not on school nights.
However, Saturday’s start time has created an unintended consequence with regard to the A’s co-tenant. Because it apparently takes too long to convert the Coliseum from baseball to football, Sunday’s Raiders contest, scheduled for 1:25 p.m., is being moved to 8:35 p.m. The matchup against the Chargers, which was supposed to air on CBS but only to viewers in California and Reno, Nevada, will now air nationally on NFL Network.
All CBS outlets, including KPIX here, will now air its national broadcast, featuring the Broncos at the Cowboys, at 1:25.
Meanwhile, Chargers-Raiders will also air on KRON channel 4, assuming enough tickets are sold to prevent a blackout, and a station in San Diego.
You may be asking: Why 8:35 p.m.? Why not earlier? Does it really take that long to switch the Coliseum? It may not, but the NFL had to pick a time that would not interfere with NBC's Sunday Night broadcast which takes place across the Bay at the Stick. The Texans-49ers contest probably won’t be over by 8:35, but it’ll be close, and it’s outside NBC's exclusivity window. As long as the stadium crew can’t assemble the Coliseum for the Raiders in time for the contest to be over by 5:30, it makes no difference.
And you have to assume that MLB considered flip-flopping the A’s and Red Sox Saturday start times, and that even if the A’s first pitch was at 1:07 p.m., it still wouldn’t have given the crew enough time to make the transition.
So for the first time, we left coast viewers get a taste of what it’s like to have to stay up till almost midnight to watch the NFL, like East Coast fans do every week.
Look at this situation as the convergence of Bay Area pro sports. The A’s are hosting playoff games the same weekend that both the 49ers and Raiders have home games scheduled. What are the odds?
And yes, it does point out the fact that the Coliseum is the last remaining example of a 60s-era multipurpose stadium that hosts both MLB and NFL teams. Although there are other stadium relics still in use, the 49ers and Chargers still play in theirs, in most cases, the baseball team left for a beautiful new downtown baseball-only ballpark. The Coliseum is the only still-functioning stadium where a mountain of seats are stacked in the parking lot during baseball games and then hurriedly assembled for football.
But if you’re a local football fan and the Raiders aren’t blacked out, look at the upside. You get to watch NFL action from Sunday at 10 a.m. all the way till midnight. And the move does give the Raiders seven additional hours to sell enough tickets.
So enjoy a weekend chock full of Bay Area sports excitement. Just don’t forget to set your alarm Sunday night so you can wake up Monday morning.