Last night, we witnessed one of the greatest baseball games ever. Here’s how it ended, bringing the beaten-down city of Houston within one game of their first ever World Series Championship.
Oh wait – I’m sorry. You probably didn’t witness it. You may have seen an alert on your phone this morning, or caught it on the morning news, or your Facebook feed. Why? Well, if you’re part of the 150 million people (about 47% of the country) that lives in the Eastern Time Zone, the game ended at 1:38am…on a Sunday night/Monday morning.
I bet those who went downtown to watch the local football team “Lions” themselves into a loss on primetime TV weren’t anticipating seeing live baseball after they fought traffic and got home to the suburbs. But the football game, that started at almost the same time, ended nearly two hours faster.
It used to be that baseball was our national pastime – the most popular sport in America. But over the last few decades, NFL Football has usurped that throne. Sadly, with the league’s p***-poor record on domestic violence, concussions, player safety, and its recent trip-and-fall into the divisive politics of 2017 – they’ve got some problems. As a result, the NBA is gaining ground. This leaves baseball in a distant third place. Sure, the pace of the game doesn’t match our on-demand dual-screening world. And soccer, formerly a game for “other countries,” is growing exponentially here. I know a great deal more kids (especially north of the Mason-Dixon line) that play soccer over football.
Due to soccer being a global game, it’s on virtually any time, anywhere. The bulk of NFL football is played on Sunday afternoons. Basketball playoffs start later than regular season games, but they are usually under 3 hours.
So I ask you, what kid, in the Eastern Time Zone, is going to be allowed to stay up past 1am on a school night to watch a baseball game? It’s also worth noting that the game ended at 12:38am in Houston, and 10:38pm in Los Angeles, which is still pretty late for an impressionable young mind.
By way of being the only one of the 4 major sports (5 if you count soccer) without a game clock, the length of a baseball game leaves an immense amount of room for fluctuation. Game 1 of this year’s World Series, a pitchers’ duel played under National League Park Rules, was the fastest Fall Classic tilt in a quarter-century.
2.5 hours 💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙
Give them both rings!!!!!!!
— Daryl (@ateDARYL) October 25, 2017
Had last night’s Game 5 ended in “regulation,” it would have been the longest 9-inning World Series game in history. It won’t get that distinction, as the dramatic contest went 10 frames, clocking in at 5 hours, 17 minutes, over twice the length of Game 1. Lots of offense, an inordinate amount of pitching changes, among other factors, make the length of a baseball game wildly unpredictable.
So, does it bother anyone else that after that ridiculous game, us East Coastians will get less sleep than the length of gm 5? #WorldSeries
— Addison Mow (@AddisonMow) October 30, 2017
Diehard baseball fans who were able to stay up until the game’s dramatic conclusion were treated to a game for the ages – and weren’t complaining about the length of this “Instant Classic.” But how many casual fans saw it? I can guarantee that kids who saw that whole thing might become baseball fans for life – with numerous home runs, multiple run leads earned and squandered, and more.
Why do these games start around 8:30? Well, after 8pm you can maximize “prime time” TV viewing, and corresponding advertising rates. Also, this is after “work hours” on the West Coast. But to the greedy suits at MLB HQ in New York, I ask this: would you rather maximize viewers in the first inning, up against NFL football and other big shows? Or would you rather have more eyeballs when the outcome of the game hangs in the balance? Start the games, especially on a Sunday, at 7pm Eastern.
One final thought – with cable cord-cutting on the rise, the presenting sponsor of the 2017 World Series is…..YouTube TV…a cord-free television service. More and more people are watching TV – including live sports – on mobile devices. As this trend grows, and people don’t have to be in their living rooms to watch TV – maybe the “holy grail” that is prime time television will no longer be the golden goose of scheduling. Start the game at 7, or even 6. People can watch at their desks. And more importantly, kids won’t have to miss the epic drama we saw last night.
And maybe Generation Z will like this baseball thing after all.