Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Wake Me When It's Over -- Unless You Fall Asleep, Too

I don’t know how we ever got along with World Series games played in daylight hours, but somehow we managed. I don’t know how we ever did without air conditioning or indoor plumbing, either, but I guess you don’t miss what you don’t have.

I guess postseason baseball isn’t for kids anymore. Or senior citizens. Or anyone who has to get up and go to work the next morning. So who does that leave, really, to watch these games?

Obviously, people watch. The ratings say so. And that’s too bad, because it seems we’re losing a lot of potential fans at the most important, exciting time of the baseball season, because these World Series games that start after 8:30pm Eastern time are absolutely ridiculous.

It’s past 1am as I write this and Game 3 is still droning on, in the 12th inning. The game is over 4 ½ hours in length. Lord knows how many viewers have dropped off, like flies -- or nodded off, like little tired people. Just think -- in the "old days", it might only be about 5:30pm right now. It used to be that way, you know. In the days before the one-eyed monsters -- those would be TV cameras -- took over the purse strings and thus the game itself, we were treated to daytime playoff and World Series contests, and the sun actually still did rise the next day. Imagine that.

I don’t want to be naive or idealistic, because I know why they do it (for the prime time Neilsen numbers mainly), and I know this is a losing battle, but it doesn’t mean I can’t pontificate about how lousy it makes me feel to have these games start when the clock is nearing 9:00pm. I don’t expect 3:00 starts anymore, but hey, how about 7:00? A typical three hour game would wrap up around ten o’clock -- and that’s workable, in my book. And the networks would still get their precious prime time in, too.

Yeah, yeah, I know: what about those west coast people? 7:00 Eastern is 4:00 Pacific -- I realize that. Hey, bonus! At least SOME folks would get a taste of daytime World Series ball. Look, what are the most important innings: 1-2 or 8-9? It’s the finish that people don’t want to miss -- not the beginning. 7:00 starts would keep the majority of the games in the thick of prime time, and us Eastern time zone people wouldn’t need to brew pots of coffee or pop tablets of Vivarin just to get through the ninth inning.

If it’s money that talks, then why play games that cause viewers to walk -- to their bedrooms? Who will be left standing -- or at least sitting upright -- to watch the commercials on which advertisers have presumably spent a lot of money in order to be seen? By the late innings, those ads are playing mostly to dozing viewers and sleeping dogs.

Well, it’s after 2:00 now and the White Sox have surged ahead 7-5 in the 14th inning. They do know how to win those close games -- been doing it all year.

But tell me, if a World Series game ends in an empty forest of sleeping TV viewers, does it make a sound -- financially?

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