Major League Baseball, desperate to lure young fans in its battle for sports entertainment dollars, keeps shooting itself in the foot.
Playoff games start too late, last too long, and almost certainly lose the two-thirds of the American population that lives in the eastern United States.
With endless blocks of commercial time, coupled with frequent pitching changes, even the lowest-scoring games last far longer than they should.
Baseball is still far better than football, which is actually three minutes of action in three hours of game.
But it could be a whole lot better.
Starting at 8:18 Eastern time is ridiculous, especially when most games during the 162-game regular season started at 7 or even earlier.
But baseball never considers end time before it announces start times. This is a mistake we see over and over again — and one that advertisers should demand be fixed.
Then there are the so-called “national” announcers, who obviously don’t do their homework.
During the Cardinals-Dodgers Wild Card game Wednesday night, Brian Anderson and Ron Darling stated repeatedly that Trea Turner hit a grand-slam on Sunday, the last day of the season. But they never mentioned the more significant fact that he also hit one two days earlier, when the Dodgers were still fighting to catch the Giants for the NL West title.
It would behoove baseball to return to the old practice of putting one announcer from each participating team in the playoff booth. At least that way, the viewing audience would have the perspective of someone who has seen that team for the entire season.
But fixing the time clock is far more important.
The Cardinals-Dodgers game, a 1-1 tie until the ninth inning, lasted four-and-a-half hours, mercifully ending at 12:30a EDT when Chris Taylor hit a home run against homer-prone Cardinal reliever Alex Reyes. Again, the announcers failed to report something significant: Reyes had given up nine home runs during the regular season.
Speaking of Taylor, the TBS tandem referred to him as “a struggling hitter” so many times that it seemed the phrase had been scripted.
With a new Basic Agreement needed beyond the expiration of the old one on Dec. 1, it’s high time baseball turned back the clock literally — by bringing in more day games.
There’s no reason baseball can’t have early day games on weekends rather than continuing the narrative of late-starting and late-ending night games whose results don’t make the morning papers. Yes, some of us still depend upon newspapers.
Instead of letting college and professional football dominate the airwaves on weekends, baseball needs to recapture the claim it used to have on daylight broadcasts.
Football can be played in any weather; baseball at night in October is not the best idea, especially in places like Boston and Chicago where cold and wet weather are often factors.
Sometimes I wonder whether the people who run the game — the owners, the commissioner they hire, and even the players association — really care about what’s best for their fans. The answer can’t be games that end the day after they start.
Here’s hoping things change when the next Basic Agreement takes hold — hopefully without a strike or lockout.