Will you have to take off work to attend NLDS Game 1? Probably

For those of us with jobs–and kids–and need to plan ahead, the playoffs pose quite a dilemma. In Major League Baseball’s eternal quest to maximize profits and TV ratings at the expense of their fans’ convenience, the league does not publish the start times for playoff games until after the participants are decided. Gotta put the Dodgers primetime, right?

Setting aside my cynicism for moment, I wanted to make an honest attempt to figure out what time the Nationals will play their first home playoff game, which is scheduled for Friday, October 3.

On Friday, October 3, there are 4 MLB playoff games. This will be a bonanza for baseball fans, but it’s also a disaster for those of us who to need to make arrangements with our bosses and babysitters more than a week ahead of time. The playoff teams may change between now and then (and we won’t know the Wild Card teams until the Wild Card games are played), but it’s likely the 4 playoff games will be hosted by the Nationals, Dodgers, Angels, and Orioles. There’s a chance the Cardinals, with 84 wins, could surpass the Dodgers or Nationals who have 86 and 87 wins, respectively. But until the standings change, let’s assume these 4 teams will be hosting Game 1.

MLB will of course stagger the start times of the 4 games on October 3 to maximize viewership. Last season, the start times for the 4 LDS games played on the same day were 12pm, 3pm, 6pm, and 9:30pm EST. It seems unlikely the schedule would change this year.

This year, the Dodgers or Angels would be given the late slot since they are West Coast teams. If the Dodgers are given the late night slot, there’s no chance the Nationals game will be a night game, since MLB will not put both National League games in prime time (they didn’t last year). If the Angels are given the late night slot, the Nationals will also likely be bumped to the daytime, the Dodgers cannot be given a time slot before noon Pacific Standard Time (last year, the games alternated between American and National League games).

So, here are the likely schedules:

Scenario One:

9:30 EST — Cardinals at Dodgers

6pm — Wild Card (Royals/Tigers/A’s) at Angels

3pm — Wild Card (Giants/Pirates) at Nationals

12pm — Tigers/Royals at Orioles

Scenario Two:

9:30 EST — Wild Card (Royals/Tigers/A’s) at Angels

6pm — Cardinals at Dodgers

3pm — Tigers/Royals at Orioles

12pm — Wild Card (Giants/Pirates) at Nationals

Now, if the Cardinals surpass the Dodgers for second best record in the NL and gain the right to host Game 1, the Nationals are also unlikely to play a night game since a Dodgers at Cardinals matchup would be far more enticing in primetime than a Giants/Pirates at Nationals matchup. Unless there’s a huge shake-up in the standings, the smart money here says you’re probably taking off work on Friday, October 3.

Unless the Nationals fall all the way to the third seed in the National League, at which point everything I just wrote is pointless.

Is there something I’m missing? If so, hit us up at @halfstreetheart.

UPDATE: There are only two games, both National League games, scheduled for Saturday, October 4. Based on last year, they will likely be played at 5:30pm and 9pm EST. If the Nationals and Dodgers are hosting, the Nationals will almost surely have the earlier game. If you observe Yom Kippur, your best case scenario is a noon game on Friday for Game 1. Yom Kippur ends around 6:30pm on Saturday, which means you should start getting in the Ben’s Chili Bowl line around the beginning of the third inning of Game 2–fourth inning, if Doug Fister is pitching that day.

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