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Major League Baseball on TBS is a presentation of Major League Baseball games on the television channel TBS.

History

Pre-2007: Relationship with the Braves

Atlanta Braves baseball games had been a local staple on Atlanta station WTBSmarker (which were both owned by Ted Turner), and subsequently nationally with the launch of its national feed, one of America's first superstations. Along with WGN-TVmarker, the station was one of the few broadcasting local sports broadcasts nationally, with some even giving the Braves the title "America's Team".

2007: Going national

Under an agreement signed on July 11, 2006, TBS earned exclusive rights to all Division Series playoff games, one of the League Championship Series, as well as rights to the All-Star Selection Show held in late June or early July, from 2007–2013. A national Sunday afternoon baseball package was also planned starting in the 2008 season. As a part of the deal, it was decided that Atlanta Braves games would now only air locally. On October 1, 2007, WTBS severed its ties with the TBS network to become an independent under the call letters WPCH-TVmarker, branding as Peachtree TV. Along with this, the national TBS feed became available in Atlanta for the first time. Peachtree TV still airs Braves games, but only within the team's market and in Canadamarker due to local laws currently not allowing the "cable" TBS to be shown unbundled in Canada. TBS' games are shown on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada.

TBS missed most of the first inning of Game 6 of the 2008 American League Championship Series, with viewers getting a rerun of The Steve Harvey Show instead. TBS picked up the game just prior to the last out in the bottom of the first, with announcer Chip Caray apologizing to viewers for "technical difficulties." TBS acknowledged there was a problem with one of their routers used in the broadcast transmission of the relay of the telecast from Atlanta.

Coverage debuts

2007



2008



Scheduling

TBS typically begins coverage with the pregame show MLB on Deck, followed by the first pitch of the first game about 38 minutes later. Each day's coverage ends with Inside MLB, its version of Inside the NBA. TBS does not show commercial breaks after the third, and sixth innings (and also after the 9th inning when the game goes to extra innings). Instead, it airs a "Game Break" allowing the studio host and analysts more air time (similar to what is done for British television coverage of an American sporting event). The studio shows originate from Studio J in Atlanta, Georgiamarker, the same one used for TNT's NBA coverage.

Regular season

During the regular season, TBS broadcasts a weekly game nationally on Sunday afternoons, under the title Sunday MLB on TBS. These games are not exclusive to TBS and are blacked out in local markets. Under the deal, TBS can show an alternate game in those markets, but the network has elected not to do so thus far. Also, despite initial reports that TBS would carry games on Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day, these holiday games are not part of the contract. For many years, games on these holidays were shown on ESPN, but that network has discontinued them (with the occasional exception of when they fall into the regular Sunday/Monday/Wednesday night slots) in favor of other live sports events.

TBS released a partial schedule of its inaugural slate of Sunday games on February 27, 2008. More games would be added as the season progressed, generally two weeks before each telecast date. TBS has the second pick of game after ESPN.

Postseason

Before the postseason, TBS will air any tie-breaker games for divisional or wild card championships. Should multiple tie-breaking games be played, or if multiple Division Series games are going on at the same time, those additional games air on TBS’ sister station, TNT.

All games in the Division Series round are presented back-to-back, with each game scheduled for a 3½-hour window. If a game exceeds this window, the first pitch of the next game will be switched to TNT. If a game ends within 3½ hours, the studio team will return for interstitial programming.TBS's League Championship Series coverage will alternate yearly. TBS will air the NLCS in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013 and the ALCS in 2008, 2010 and 2012, alternating with Fox.

In 2007, TBS switched the starts of four games to TNT in the Division Series round because the previous games exceeded the time limit. TNT was also scheduled to air Game 4 of the Diamondbacks-Cubs series, which overlapped with Game 3 of the Red Sox-Angels series, but the former game was not played; the night before, the D-Backs completed a three game sweep of the Cubs.

Announcers

Critics of TBS' coverage

TBS' coverage has been met with criticism by some critics and viewers. As with TNT's NBA playoff coverage, MLB playoff games on TBS are not made available to local over-the-air broadcasters in the participating teams' markets. Under the previous contract, ESPN was required to make those games available on the air in local markets.

Some sports media critics were critical of the announcers used in the coverage as being more skewed towards the National League than the American League, along with the choice of Chip Caray (who along the way, has been criticized for making factual mistakes during postseason broadcasts) as the lead voice of the network's coverage, as he had only done Braves baseball telecasts in the 2007 season before the launch of TBS' playoff coverage. Frank Thomas' work as a studio analyst was panned by various newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times. His most notable moment came when he was asked three times whether he hated to face Angels' pitcher John Lackey or Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett more; he declined to respond each time. In fairness, Thomas was still an active player with the Oakland Athletics, a member of the American League along with the Angels and the Red Sox.

Digital on-screen graphics

Before TBS' broadcast the 2007 postseason, they used a score bug on the top left-hand corner of the screen for their Braves telecasts. It has been upgraded midway into the 2004 season to what it was through 2007.

2007-

The on-screen score graphic covers the entire top of the screen, unlike the Braves TBS Baseball graphic, which only took up the left half of the top. The look is almost identical to that of from Fox's baseball coverage, except that the illustration of the basepaths is near the left side of the screen instead of flush on the right. The batting order starting lineup used since 2008 resembles that of a cellphone.

Ratings

References

  1. DirecTV onscreen program guide, retrieved September 26, 2007
  2. Dear MLB, We Need to Talk About Your TBS Contract
  3. TBS takes away postseason luster for baseball fans
  4. Dear TBS: Please Stick to Dawson's Creek Reruns or Just Shoot Me
  5. Caray is master of the miscue
  6. Odd miscalls by TBS' Chip Caray
  7. An Error-Plagued Game, but From the Broadcast Booth
  8. Chip Caray Is in a Verbal Slump in the TBS Booth


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