Good News: Phils Likely to Avoid Afternoon Time Slot in NLDS

So here's some good news. It's looking increasingly likely that neither of the Phillies' first two division series games will be scheduled in the mid-afternoon time slot.

You may recall that in 2007 and in 2009, we had to suffer through the indignity of watching (or, more likely, missing) both Games 1 and 2. Understanding why this happened requires an understanding of how MLB schedules the division series.

Basically, it goes like this:

Wednesday - Series A Game 1, Series B Game 1, Series C Game 1
Thursday - Series A Game 2, Series B Game 2, Series D Game 1
Friday - Series C Game 2, Series D Game 2
Saturday - Series A Game 3, Series B Game 3
Sunday - Series A Game 4, Series B Game 4, Series C Game 3, Series D Game 3

So, you have three games scheduled for both Wednesday and Thursday, which need to be placed into three different time slots - 3:00, 6:00, and 9:00.

There were three reasons why the Phillies had to play both games in the 3:00 time slot in both 2007 and 2009 (but not 2008).

First, from 2007-2009, Series A and B were always NLDS, while Series C and D were ALDS.
Second, in 2007 and 2009 (but not 2008), the Yankees and Red Sox both made the playoffs.
Third, the Phillies had homefield advantage in all three years, meaning they opened in Eastern Time.

MLB has an unwritten rule that if either the Yankees or the Red Sox play on any given day, that team must get the 6:00 time slot. Maybe under certain circumstances, they will consider moving them to the 9:00 time slot. But MLB will never have them play at 3:00.

Since Games 1 and 2 for the Phillies both conflicted with either the Yankees or the Red Sox in 2007 and 2009, they had to get bumped to 3:00 or 9:00. Since the Phillies were in Eastern Time while the other NLDS (Cubs @ Diamondbacks in 2007, Cardinals @ Dodgers in 2009) were not, that meant Phillies at 3:00.

This year, however, thanks (I believe) to the NL's win in the All-Star Game, Series A and B are in the American League, not the National League. Also, the Red Sox probably aren't going to make the playoffs. So this means the Phillies will conflict with the Yankees for only one game (Game 1).

If the season were to end today, the three series that would have games played on that day would be:

Padres @ Phillies
Yankees @ Twins
Rangers @ Rays

The Rangers and Rays have less of a following than the Padres and Phillies, so that will probably mean that Rangers-Rays will get stuck with 3:00. So, at worst, we'll get the 9:00 slot for Game 1.

There's even a slight chance that MLB would consider scheduling Yankees-Twins at 9:00 and Reds-Phillies at 6:00. The Twins are in Central Time, and 9:00 is only slightly less desirable of a time slot than 6:00 is.

All the more reason then to root for the Red Sox to get eliminated and the Rays to beat out the Yankees.

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