Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The World Series

Paul McCartney has just announced his new tour! He’ll be playing at the Gil Hodges Bowling Alley lounge in Brooklyn – capacity: 30.

Watch the AMERICAN IDOL two hour finale! This year aired exclusively on San Jose Comcast Public Access Channel 438.

The Mona Lisa is coming to the United States for a limited time only! Available for viewing in Myra Finklestein’s five-floor-walk-up studio apartment in the East Village. She'll be home from work after 6.

SPIDERMAN 4 will screen for one day only. Exclusive engagement on Norbert Pimskotch’s iPod.

Sound ridiculous? No more so than the World Series beginning at 8:22 PM on the east coast.

There have been some spectacular playoff games this year. Tampa Bay won a spine tingling extra inning game over the Red Sox Friday night. Were you up at 1:37 AM? In game five Boston overcame an insurmountable seven run deficit in the 7th inning to beat the Rays 8-7. The game would become an instant classic if anyone saw it.

This year’s All-Star Game was a thriller. The American League won in a five hour, 15 innings affair. The dramatic ending was seen in the east by eight 7-11 clerks (five. Three were robbed and tied up in the back).

The point is the networks schedule these games so late that no one can watch them. Why bother investing two hours in a story you know you’ll fall asleep through before the climax? (I call this the “English Patient Syndrome”) For the sake of being on in “prime time” networks kill the product. And MLB just looks the other way as they count their money.

Baseball is a sport that is passed down from generation to generation. It needs to attract kids to ensure its future. Name me one kid who fell in love with the grand old game by watching Jeannie Zelasko’s pre-game show with in-studio analysts Kevin Kennedy and Mark Grace. Children have bedtimes and they’re usually not 1:37 AM.

Good luck to the Tampa Bay Rays and Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series that begins tonight. I hope you can stay awake for it. I hope the players can stay awake for it.


Anonymous said...

Wow, I grew up down the street from the Gil Hodges Bowling Alley in Brooklyn...so funny!

Anonymous said...

So what's your suggestion Ken? If they start the games at 7pm on the east coast, all those little kids on the west coast lose their memories instead.

I'm not saying I have an answer. I don't. But I have to say it's nice to be in Seattle and be able to watch the game.

Anonymous said...

It's the Phillies in 6 (at best, more likely 5).

William C Bonner said...

There's a reason that not as many pro sports teams survive on the west coast.

If you grew up on the west coast, you are probably less likely to have spent quality time watching sports teams. Even Monday Night Football starts before most people are home from work.

I didn't learn to like baseball at all till I was in college and learned that it was nice to just sit in the park and enjoy the day.

Tim W. said...

Another reason there are more sports teams on the east coast might that there are more people there. Half of the US population resides in less than a third of the country.

WizarDru said...

Your point is taken, Paul, but right now we've got a World Series set on the East Coast with two East Coast teams that's scheduled to accommodate West Coast viewers.

Kids have bedtimes? So do I! I only go to bed an hour after my kids, so I couldn't even watch 2 hours of my Phillies and expect to function the next day. Surely there's some sort of compromise that would work.

Anonymous said...

Back in 1975 I became a real baseball fan when my dad let me stay up late on a school night to watch the World Series. I got to see Carlton Fisk and stay up to maybe 11:30. It was a 4 hour, 11 inning game. (btw, Game 5 took all of 2:21 minutes - you can look it up).

I watched both Sox games this year but it was not an option for my kids.

Bill said...

I get the weekday games. I don't like it, as an east coaster, but I understand why they don't want a game starting at 4:00 or 4:30 in LA. But why does a Sunday night game not start at about 7:35? Football games are either over or just about to wrap up, and missing the top of the first isn't the end of the world (although when TBS was showing the Steve Harvey show, it sure felt like it).

They also do need to address the length of the games. My thoughts: when you bring in a relief pitcher, he should have to finish an inning or give up a run before you can pull him. Does anyone, other than lefty relievers and their families, really like the concept of the LOOGY? The umps should also refuse to grant time to batters, and if they feel like a pitcher is working too slowly, they should warn the guy, then start a clock on him as soon as he has the ball in his hands (10 seconds or so).

Mary Stella said...

Let the talking heads do their pre-game show at 7 pm and throw out the first pitch at 7:30 p.m.

I've waited 15 years for my Phillies to make it back into the World Series so I'll watch each game from start to finish.

My butt will just have to drag at work the following day.

Joke said...

This'd make a whole bloody lot more sense if there were West Coast teams involved, with a greater proportion of viewership there.

But there isn't.

I guess for a lot of people it'll just be a glance at the corner of the paper's front page (X beats Y 6-3 in Game 3) and maybe a little channel surfing to catch some highlights.


Tom Ehrenfeld said...

Huh? Ken, there's no crying in baseball writing. First off, it really wasn't all that tough for us Sox fans to stay up for all the games. That's what ya do. Second, and I might be confused about this, but wouldn't a game that starts at 8:15 on the East Coast start on 5:15 for you, so you should be able to catch the end of the game?

But I guess if you really don't see a solution maybe they should just shorten the games--you know, just play seven innings instead of nine, since this is a new crowd in the offseason and we should accommodate their newbie needs.

Of course, if that is the case I hope that they cut the first two innings rather than the last two, since there's usually more drama in those frames.

Alto2 said...

Yes, the late start is a real problem for us Gulf Coast Floridians who might actually spend $$$ to take our kids to a World Series game. There's no way young children would last past the third inning or so.

Anonymous said...

If you want to make sure people watch the game late into the evening. MLB should swap out singing "take me out to the ballpark" for the 7th inning stretch with executing Jose Canseco.

Anonymous said...

Back in ye olden days -- i.e. before 1972 -- the problem with the Series was the mid-week games all were played in the afternoon, starting around 1:15 p.m. EDT, which normally meant kids on the east coast missed at least the first half of the game, and kids further west didn't see them at all. The "experimental" night game in the '71 Series was done to try and give more people the ability to watch.

So the problem isn't as much the night starts on the weeknight games as it is the ones on Saturday and Sunday. Fox apparently doesn't have enough faith in the games to put it up against college football on CBS, ABC and NBC on Saturdays, and doesn't want to mess with their regular season NFL games on Sunday (even though CBS never gets the late national game the opening weekend of he NFL season, so it can show the men's final of the U.S. Open). There might not be anything baseball can do about their Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday game starting times, but there's no reason to keep people up late on weekend, when most are off and can watch the games in mid-afternoon just because Rupert Murdoch, Sumner Redstone, Bob Igler or Jeff Ihmelt throws a few more bucks your way so you won't interfere with their football telecasts. (/rant)

Anonymous said...

Being in the midwest, it all works out for me!

Go Rays!

Anonymous said...

Maybe if they scheduled less commercials during the half innings so the action would move faster, the games wouldn't last so long. But that would be mean the MLB giving up on the all-mighty dollar, and that would be crazy doing something to actually benefit the fans.

Go Rays!

Anonymous said...

Growing up in L.A., football games were a Sunday MORNING activity. It was church at 8 AM, followed by a Rams east coast game at 9 AM (noon on the east coast). If the Rams were home, the game started at 1 and we got to eat breakfast first. Now that I live on the east coast, it's not TOO much different. Phillies victories still come in the morning: between midnight at 2 AM. Breakfast comes later.

Anonymous said...

I grew up in the 1950s in a suburb of Chicago. Back in those days the Series was mostly day games and I think it was a much bigger deal than it is now. It was on radio and TV everywhere -- stores, offices, bars . . . People who cared took off work or had a radio with them. Listening to ballgames on the radio was, I think, much bigger then than it is now. I was in high school in 1959 when the White Sox played L.A. Poorly. The games were carried over the school PA system. It may have been a hardship, but people coped and kids could attend, watch or listen to the games. Today’s schedule is a noship.

I live in Sacramento. The River Cats, the best team in AAA ball, play right across the street from my office. They have three or four day games per season. Baseball is a totally different sport from when I was a kid. Ninety minute games, pitches inside, no 22 yr old zillionaire-worried-about-respect whiners, high socks with pants tucked in (what is it with the baggy pants look?), doubleheaders, batting was about batting, not posing, less greed and more sport. It’s a lot harder for me to give a rat’s ass about greedhead, charmless baseball anymore.

Anonymous said...

I applaud them finally giving West Coast people a chance to watch games live. I'm sick of missing everything because it starts at 5.

Anonymous said...

Who cares? Dumpa Bay vs. Pittsburgh or is it Philladelphia, on Fox where all you see is extreme close ups of every one or thing in the stadium, except the playing field. As I've said before, the Fox Baseball director must get paid by the number of camera changes he makes. It's unwatchable!

Anonymous said...

As a Left Coaster, I remember we were allowed to bring transistor radios to school (in the '60s!) to listen to the World Series Day Games!

When you're 10 years old, that's pretty cool.

Ken, you're so right. East Coasters get screwed on today's broadcast priorities.

Who am I rooting for???

William C Bonner said...

After reading several comments, I've realized that part of the problem is that baseball is just like any other entertainment, ubt especially like Network TV.

There used to be limited forms of entertainment. There used to be only a few stations. There used to be only a few ways on conversation.

Now we have a choice between TV, Radio, Telephone, Computer (internet), or live. Each of those may easily have over 100 options itself.

The audience itself is as fractured as the media.

I don't find baseball all that interesting to watch. I'd rather just see the highlights. I prefer to listen to it on radio because then my imagination can make the game better. To paraphrase a great announcer: "They broadcast a great game, not necessarily a real game."

Mary Stella said...

Oh, hell, let's just make it easy.

School boards on the West Coast, please schedule your start times later during the World Series season.

Make watching the games mandatory and give the kids an essay assignment based on baseball.


Anonymous said...

Best wishes to Wizardru and Mary Stella and their Phils! Cheers to baseball fans sophisticated enough to understand that cowbells are an annoying (incredibly annoying) cliche. I like the idea of charging the pitcher with a ball if he can't get it to the plate within 15 or 20 seconds. I'd also applaud getting rid of the seventh inning religiosity-and-jingoism fest of God Bless America. We sing our NATIONAL ANTHEM at the beginning. That's enough.

Anonymous said...

Ken - Slow day for the blog? This subject has been debated ad nauseum for years. Is this really the best you could do?

Tim W. said...

"Ken - Slow day for the blog? This subject has been debated ad nauseum for years. Is this really the best you could do"

Yes, that's right. Complain about the guy who is giving you free entertainment every single day because once in a while he doesn't write a post that's cutting edge. I can tell you, I'd have trouble writing a new blog post every single day. Cheers, Ken.

Anonymous said...

If you're a baseball fan you should be able to handle staying up until 11:30-12 to watch a game. Maybe if you're 80 you might need some sleep but come on. It can't be any earlier or it will be on at 3 on the West Coast. In CO it's bad enough that I need to rush home from work so I don't miss the beginning of the game at 6:30. Not to mention what used to be a 1 PM NFL game when I lived in NJ is now a 11 AM game, thank god I don't live in CA....at the bar by 10 AM to watch football, that's nuts. I think they try to make it as fair as they can for everyone.

David J. Loehr said...

Why bother investing two hours in a story you know you’ll fall asleep through before the climax? (I call this the “English Patient Syndrome”)

I looked at my watch at the end of the first three hours of "The English Patient," only to find that one had gone by. That film was the longest six months of my life.

Anonymous said...

You mean they don't have Sunday Ticket at Denny's and Bob Evans, on the west coast? (Or in the church hall/bingo parlors?)

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite memories from the sixth grade was watching the 1972 World Series between A's and the Reds -- in class, during the day.

My teacher back then was a huge ball fan, so he brought in a TV and taught us math using the game as an example. And social studies and history and even some English. He crammed an entire education into that day game.

Bring back weekday day games!

Rays in six.

Buttermilk Sky said...

With all the excitement generated by Fluffia and Tampax Bay, you could TiVo the games and watch them all in November without anybody ruining the experience by telling you the scores.

Anonymous said...


Cap'n Bob said...

It might only be an urban legend, but I heard that there is a time limit on how long a pitcher can hold the ball before making his pitch: 20 seconds. I've never seen it enforced, maybe because it isn't true. Anyone have a current rule book?


Anonymous said...

I'm in L.A. and thus happy as a clam. During the Olympics stuff didn't start until 10 or 11 sometimes but if I wanted to watch it I stayed up. I'm sure the same is true for Phillies and Rays fans.

That being said, I agree with you about the kids factor and they should have the weekend game(s) at 4 or 5 PST. That's just stupid.

Anonymous said...

Ken, I'm a sportswriter for The Star-Ledger in NJ and I'll never understand it.

If they start these games an hour earlier (7:22 p.m., let say), the entire game will still get to be played in the 7:30-11 p.m. "prime-time" window.

And it'll be a hell of a lot easier on guys that have to write the game as well!


VP81955 said...

Chris, I know where you're coming from. I'm a copy editor for a small daily in Virginia, and our deadlines now are such that we can't get the Series games in print. People have to check online. (BTW, glad to see it looks as if the Ledger will survive; I formerly lived in New Jersey, and it's amazing to see how much it's improved over the past dozen years from the stultifying Mort Pye era.)

I got off work at about 10:30 Wednesday night, drove home and picked up the Phils' broadcast from 1210 AM. Harry Kalas is still a wonderful announcer -- as much a legend as Ernie Harwell or Vin Scully -- and I'm hoping the Phils can give him a chance to call a World Series winner. (What about 1980, you say? That year, MLB instituted an absurd rule that barred local radio broadcasts of Series games; it was thankfully dropped a few years later.)

Roger Owen Green said...

I find it easier to just watch until I get sleepy then record the rest, watching in the a.m., using the slowest fast forwarding speed through the whole thing until something interesting happens. Not optimal, but I'm better in the morning. (Upstate NY)

Go, Rays!

Cap'n Bob said...

I must have blinked. When did the Devil Rays become the Rays? Did it have anything to do with Steve Irwin? Were they afraid they'd be called the Tampa Bay Devil That Killed The Crocodile Hunter Rays?

Phillies ahead 1 game to 0. All is well.

Anonymous said...

Hey Tim W. - When Ken has a great post, I applaud him. When he doesn't, I...um...post that it must be a slow blog day.

Sorry if my expectations of Ken are higher than the recycling of old columns most no-talent sport writers write at least once a year.

Anonymous said...

for a sport that is only played in like 3 countries (1 of them hate america, the other got hit by 2 nuclear bombs, so they love the US, because they're too scared to say otherwise), the name "world series" seems a bit of an exaggeration.

Anonymous said...

I have a really nice boss: I was in a luxury suite last night at the Trop to watch my Rays beat Philly (it's weird here, cause since the Phil's play spring training in Clearwater, we have a lot more local Philly fans than for some other out of town teams).

I know what you're saying, but, particularly for post-season games, there's just an amazing amount of logistics that has to happen on both sides of the Show for it to be practical.

Streets around the stadium were blocked from 1730. If they had to push that up an hour, people wouldn't get home from work.

I didn't get out the stadium til after midnight, but I really wouldn't have passed it up even if I had to stay up late at home.

And hey: you don't punch a clock these days, do you? :-)

Anonymous said...

Oh, and Rays in 7.

Bottom of the 9th.

Walkoff; grandslam, 3 runs down.

Full count, 2 out.