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Fox-TV Outfoxes Itself On Cubs/Nationals Game

You have to live in a very select group of markets to be able to watch today's second game.

When the Cubs swapped out their Sunday date with the Nationals and made it a Saturday doubleheader, one of the games had to become part of Fox-TV's "Baseball Night in America." Why? Because the alternative would be no TV at all, since Fox has an exclusive window from 6 to 9 p.m. CT today.

Had the Cubs played a series in the regular sequence this weekend, I suspect a single game today would have been at 3:05 CT.

That's all fine, except that Fox is barely covering this game. Check out the coverage map.

Seriously? Only in the Chicago, Rockford, LaCrosse, Quad Cities, South Bend, Washington, Roanoke, Harrisonburg, Charlottesville and Norfolk markets will you be able to see this game on your local Fox station. Granted, if you have MLB Extra Innings or MLB.TV, you can watch the Cubs and Nationals there tonight, but what I don't understand is why Fox didn't put this game on in most of Iowa, especially Des Moines; most of Wisconsin, including Milwaukee and Madison; or Arizona, where there are many Cubs fans. Since the game isn't being carried in the Baltimore market -- you know, A.L. East territory -- that means that some Nats fans who live in that market can't watch their team.

It's as if someone in New York simply divides the country up into spheres of influence by MLB division, with no thought of where fans actually live. Des Moines is getting Red Sox/Yankees. Really? How about Knoxville, the TV market for the Cubs' Double-A team? They get Braves/Phillies. Arizona is getting Dodgers/Cardinals. That makes at least some sense, but I'd guess there are more Cubs fans than Dodgers or Cardinals fans in Arizona.

It's not as if the Nats are chopped liver, either. They do happen to be in first place in their division.

If Fox-TV wonders why their cumulative ratings for these games are so low, this could be one reason. They ought to allow each of their local affiliates to opt for a different game if the local management thinks it could generate higher ratings. Fox already does this on a limited basis with the NFL.

Anyway, just thought I'd let you know about the very limited TV distribution of tonight's game. The afternoon game will be on WGN. You know, national TV.