My latest appearance on MLB Now was my most enjoyable yet. I got to spend more than two hours having extended and often playful conversations about a variety of baseball topics with Brian Kenny, Sean Casey, and John Smoltz. Unfortunately, most of the country didn’t get to see it. Let me explain.
When the MLB Network airs a mid-week regular season day game, they can’t air a competing broadcast of that game in the home markets of the two teams involved (indeed, they typically just pick up the broadcast of the home team), so they have to air a similarly timed “B game” in those markets. Of course, the two games don’t sync up perfectly, one is bound to end before the other, so coming out of those games, the Network is temporarily split into what they call the A-Net and B-Net, the former broadcasting to most of the country and the latter broadcasting only to the markets of the two teams playing in the A game. The show scheduled to follow the games, which is typically MLB Now, begins after whichever game ends first, but doesn’t go fully national until the end of the other game.
On Wednesday, the A game was the Nationals’ 11-inning win over the Yankees, while the B game was the Blue Jays 7-2 win over the Marlins. The Nats game started at 1pm and lasted three hours and 36 minutes, leaving us less than a half hour for the portion of the show that was seen by most of the country starting around 4:40pm Eastern. The Jays game, however, started at 12:30 and lasted just two hours and eight minutes, meaning we actually went on the air in New York and Washington and the surrounding markets around 2:40. As a result, we did two hours of show that only 26 percent of the MLB Network’s viewing audience saw and two hours and twenty minutes total of what is, on non-game days, only a one-hour show.
On top of that, once the Nationals game reached the bottom of the ninth inning with a tie score, we had to stay on the air (meaning not in commercial) as long as the home team (the Yankees) was at bat, because if the game ended, they needed to come straight out to us. The led to some particularly lengthy discussions which took place after we had already been on the air for an hour and a half. Unsurprisingly, things got loose and a little goofy.
Fortunately, those two hours on the B-Net weren’t resigned to the dustbin. MLB.com has posted three clips from that portion of the show. Our interview with Blue Jays beat reporter Arash Madani, whom our producers collared without warning to help us fill out that extra time, was pretty straight forward, and relatively early in that two-hour stretch, but here’s a six-minute conversation about the shift (watch for my Julio Franco impression as we throw to commercial):
And here, perhaps best capturing the spirit of the show, is a nine-minute conversation about no-hitters stemming from Chris Heston’s no-no the night before in which Smoltz looks back in anger at two near misses from his own career: