CMWS championship weekend schedule altered for television broadcast
FARMINGTON − There will be more than just a trophy on the line this weekend when the Connie Mack World Series title game is held at Ricketts Park.
For Richard Neely, president of the American Amateur Baseball Congress, the added exposure of the tournament through a nationally televised broadcast, as well as potential exposure for the host city of Farmington, is hopefully going to take center stage.
And that has forced the CMWS to significantly change the scheduling of games on both Friday and Saturday.
It was formally announced late Wednesday afternoon that the championship game, which was previously scheduled for Ricketts Park on Saturday at 2:30 p.m., will now take place Friday with the game starting at 6:30 p.m.
Game times were also altered for games scheduled on Friday leading up to the championship contest.
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The Friday games will all shift back. The originally scheduled fifth round game, which was supposed to begin at 5:15 p.m. game has been moved to an 11:45 a.m. start time, with the 7:30 p.m. game moved back to 3 p.m.
If there is a need for a second championship game on Saturday, that game has not been changed as far as scheduling is concerned. The "if necessary" game remains in place for 5 p.m. at Ricketts Park.
According to a release from the Connie Mack World Series Committee, because of the "potential upside, both now and in the future," with "businesses, organizations, and community oriented entities" in terms of advertising of the telecast, the decision was made to rearrange the championship schedule.
Ticketing procedures have been changed as well.
Those people who have tickets for the Friday games (Session 11) will be valid for the 11:45 a.m. & 3 p.m. games while those who have tickets for Saturday's Session 12 will be valid for both the 6:30 p.m. game on Friday and the 5 pmgame on Saturday.
The release goes on to say that because of CBS Sports Network's broadcast of the championship game, the "exposure of our event and community to the rest of the nation will have enormous benefits economically that couldprovide the springboard to increased tourism, infrastructure buildouts, standard of living improvements,and so much more."
Neely hopes the stadium will be packed when the championship game (or games) are played this weekend. Not only does Neely want a big crowd to enjoy the game from the stands, but with the broadcast, the exposure for the city and for the tournament itself will be worth all the work that goes into staging the annual event.
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"I need people here to know how big a deal this really is," Neely said. "Not just for the kids or for the tournament, but for the city itself," Neely said. "It's something we've been working on for a long time and it's only the beginning, so I'm really hoping for a packed house this weekend."
Launched in 2002, CBS Sports Network (DirecTV Channel 221, Dish Network Channel 158, Comcast Channel 734) currently serves as the home for Mountain West Conference athletics, as well as the UEFA Champions League and World of Outlaws motorsports. According to their website, the network reaches as many as 61 million homes in the United States.
Reaction to the scheduling changes was mixed.
"It's really a non-factor for us," said Dallas-based D-Bat United coach Ryan Bonesio. "It's not common to make a change like this at the last minute, but it's also not every tournament that gets their games shown on national television."
D-Bat United will hope to remain unbeaten in the CMWS Thursday at 7:30 p.m. when they tackle the Midland Baseball team at Ricketts Park. D-Bat and Midland are the lone unbeaten teams in the bracket heading into the final days of the tournament. The winner of that game will then play on Friday at 3 p.m. for the right to play for the championship.
"The change kind of messes with our pitching rotation, and it wasn't something we were ever consulted upon. We just sort of found out about it," said Midland coach Dave Evans. "But all the teams that are left are going to have make those same changes, so we just figure out how to deal with it."
Midland, which had a bye on Wednesday after back-to-back wins earlier this week over UBC National and the Florida Legends, have won the CMWS 16 times and are looking to earn their first championship trophy since 2019.
"Everyone has to make sacrifices for the good of the kids, but it's going to force us to make changes with some players," Evans said. "It's their tournament and if they do something we don't like, we have the option of not coming back next year."
Florida Legends coach Carlos Marti said it's not a problem for him or his team until they're in the championship game. The Legends are facing elimination in a Thursday game against the Southern California Renegades at 5:15 p.m.
"It's something that's counter-productive for me to worry about if I'm not in the game," Marti said. "I don't know if anyone is thrilled about it. It's not favorable for anyone."
For some fans, the late change in schedule has led to frustration and confusion.
Farmington resident Jerry Richards, who has tickets for the Friday games, won't be able to attend the afternoon contests because of his work.
"Surely they had the information they needed from CBS prior to last night," Richards said. "It's just not good for working people. If it's weather related and happens at the last minute, it's understandable but for TV exposure, it's just not cool."
Weather also could play a large role in the scheduling of games and what people will see live and on television.
The current weather forecast for Farmington on Friday calls for a 60 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms in the late afternoon through the evening. Weather delays have already played a factor in the series, with games on Tuesday evening being halted for more than three hours.
Technical upgrades have made TV broadcast possible
Neely, who has served as president of the AABC for more than 15 years, has watched as the tournament has evolved and grown in recent years thanks to exposure from television and live streaming of games and events.
"We were lucky to have made the upgrades when we did to the stadium to allow for more high-tech coverage of the series," Neely said. "And you see it, with the numbers of viewers and the response to the series online, that we did the right thing."
When Ricketts Park went through a massive renovation following the conclusion of the 2019 series, one of the goals was to ensure the stadium would be capable of handling even more shared data. Streaming of games on multiple platforms ensured greater visibility for the tournament and for amateur baseball across the board.
"People want to see these games, but not everyone can go to the games," Neely said. "It only made perfect sense to make sure we had the most reliable way for people to see the games."
Mark Varley, current chairman of the Connie Mack World Series committee, said that Ricketts Park is one of the leading locations in the region from which to broadcast live sports.
"The chances of (Ricketts Park) ever being outdated technology-wise are slim to none," Varley said. "That's the reason we're able to get the exposure that we've been looking for."
That exposure went a long way in attracting CBS Sports to broadcast the championship.
"When we showed them the technology was already here, it made the arrangement so much easier," Neely said. "We had the camera positioning, the computer space upstairs, even the personnel to work the equipment."
Farmington High students will be a part of broadcast team
Students from Farmington High School's audio-visual department will be working on multiple cameras for the championship broadcast, and have been busy throughout the first few days of the series working on radio, television and social media.
"For them to do these kinds of things speaks to potential careers," said Johnny Curry, who served as program coordinator for Farmington High's media program. "Awards are great and they're proof of hard work, but this is very special."
Neely, who has been pleased with the competition on the field through the first few days of the series, is hoping that having the event made global this weekend will attract more fans, now and in the future.
"We've already starting talks about streaming the entire tournament next year," Neely said. "That would be a real game-changer for this town and for the tournament itself."
For more information on the tournament bracket, including updated schedules and team rosters, log onto the official website at CMWS.org.