As noted yesterday and the day before, ESPN does indeed have East Coast teams on Sunday Night Baseball more than many teams from other areas. However, it isn’t because ESPN wants teams closer to Bristol, it’s just that teams on the East Coast tend to do well both on the field and in the ratings, so it makes sense to schedule them more.
That said, there are some teams that end up getting the short end of the stick because of this. These are some of those teams.
The Texas Rangers had the seventh best record in baseball from 2007 to 2011, but were tied for 12th in appearances. This can partly be chalked up to the fact that they didn’t become really good until the last few years: the earlier part of that time period still had them as constant runner-ups to the Angels.
The Milwaukee Brewers had the eighth best record in baseball from 2007-2011, but only appeared five times, good for 15th most. Unlike the Rangers, who were victims to the fact they weren’t particularly good at the start of the time period, the Brewers have had two good years separated by some years where they were middle-of-the-road. But the bigger problem for them has been that they are in the smallest American media market in the Majors, which severely hurts them.
Tampa Bay had the fifth best record in baseball during the time period, but only appeared four times, good for a tie for 16th in Sunday Night Baseball appearances. They were, by far, the least shown team with a top 10 record. In addition, the Tampa Bay media market isn’t that small: Nielsen had it as the 14th largest in the USA. The problem with Tampa is that, well, in many cases nobody cares. It has been well documented how the Rays have had problems drawing, even as they routinely are playoff contenders. The problem, in my eyes, is that while Tampa is a good baseball town (just take a look at all of the Spring Training sites in that area), it isn’t a Rays town. I went to a Rays game in the early aughts, and it was, for all intent and purposes, just a home game for the Red Sox. Tropicana Field was filled with tourists and snow birds from New England. So, until the Rays find out some way to wrest away the allegiances of transplants and snag the allegiance of locals, they are probably going to continue to be ignored by TV. Which is sad, as they usually are a very good team.
But the team that is most ignored by ESPN, that has the largest disparity between winning percentage and number of appearances, will be discussed tomorrow. So come back then to learn of that team’s plight.