Kudos to Bud Selig. Kudo to Fox network. Yes, they should have done this about a decade ago, but let’s not quibble. This has long been a crusade of mine — and I’m hardly alone, of course. Now it has finally happened.
MLB announced Monday that the start of weekday World Series games will now begin about 40 minutes earlier. Weeknight games will begin at 7:57 p.m. Eastern time. That’s about 5 p.m. our time, which should get the games concluded in time for the kiddies to watch the whole thing before bed time. Even East Coast parents will be able to allow their children to watch a decent chunk of the game.
It was absolutely ridiculous for baseball to have its premier event, the World Series, start so late and last so long that the next generation of fans was unable to watch, unless parents allowed them to stay up past midnight. Even here in Seattle, the games would push past most reasonable bedtimes.
According to this ESPN story, Saturday games could be even earlier, and Sunday games will continue to begin following the conclusion of the network’s NFL coverage.
Selig has been promising to do this for years, but he had to get the networks on board, which isn’t easy. I give him credit for sticking with it and getting ‘er done, to quote new Mariner fan Larry the Cable Guy.
Of course, now he’s got to make sure the first- and second-round playoff games start earlier (the American League Championship Series on Fox is on board, but no word yet on ALDS and NLCS action on TBS).
And,perhaps most importantly, baseball has to figure out a way to make postseason games move along more quickly. Here are the times of game for the five World Series contests last year: 3:23, 3:05, 3:41, 3:08 and 3:28. And by, recent standards, those were fairly quick. It would be nice to have a 2:45 post-season game, but with mandated commercial time, the increased deliberateness of batters in the postseason, and the endless relief manipulations of managers, it might be a dream.
But at least these long games now have a chance to end before midnight on the East Coast, and by kids’ bedtimes here on the West Coast. It’s a victory.