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We’ve likely seen the last of the early World Series starts

Nov 1, 2010, 9:52 AM EDT

downward trend

I liked the early start to Game 3 on Saturday. With the game getting underway just before 7PM my kids were able to watch a bit of it — even if it was Justin Bieber-inspired — and the thing ended early enough to where I was able to not only watch the whole game without getting sleepy, but I was able to watch both (a) the Ohio State-Minnesota game I had recorded; and (b) the last hour of “Evil Dead II” on AMC.  Epic television night at the Calcaterra house, I can tell you. Groovy.

But sadly, we’ve probably seen our last early start World Series game, because this one got killed in the ratings. In fact, it was the second lowest-rated World Series game of all time. The only one worse was the weather-delayed game in the 2008 series that didn’t get going until after 10PM. Yikes!

I’ll always maintain that low ratings are no reason to hate on a given World Series matchup and that they shouldn’t affect a true baseball fan’s enjoyment of the thing. But the folks in charge can’t ignore it, and you have to imagine that they’ll respond to this by ensuring that every future World Series game either (a) starts in prime time; or (b) involves the Yankees.

  1. andrewkw - Nov 1, 2010 at 10:02 AM

    I still don’t understand why they did this on a saturday. Kids and adults a like can stay up as late as they want. At least the vast majority of them can.

    Who are these people who like the games starting at 8 or later? Seriously speak up. I’ve never seen one person say they prefer this start time, nor have I ever heard anyone complain in the regular season that the games start too early?

    If polls have been taken, any polls where people prefer later start times please link me I’d love to read them.

    • vatvslpr - Nov 1, 2010 at 11:00 AM

      Who are these people who like the games starting at 8 or later?

      People who live outside the Eastern time zone. Those of us on the Left Coast would find a much earlier start during the week to be very inconvenient. If you’ve ever watched a game held on the West Coast, you’ll see people who can’t make it to the game until after it starts at 7pm Pacific time (i.e. 10pm Eastern). It’s a little bit easier to get home than to get to the game, but 8pm Eastern is definitely inconveniently early for most people out here.

      • Utley's Hair - Nov 1, 2010 at 1:46 PM

        So you’re bitching that an 8pm Eastern start is too early?

      • Utley's Hair - Nov 1, 2010 at 1:59 PM

        And apparently you are not the only one, so forget that I singled you out.

    • The Dangerous Mabry - Nov 1, 2010 at 11:00 AM

      I imagine just about any poll taken of people living in San Francisco (you know, where 4 of the 7 world series games are being played this year) would show an awful lot of people opposing games starting before 5 PM. I know as an east-coaster, I’d hate having games start that early, since you’d have to miss the start of every game if you work normal business hours. It seems to me that 8 eastern is a pretty reasonable compromise, given that we’ve got people living in a number of time zones in this country.

  2. BC - Nov 1, 2010 at 10:14 AM

    They should try not playing any World Series games on Sunday or on Monday night. The NFL will kick their a$$ every time.

  3. Jonny 5 - Nov 1, 2010 at 10:16 AM

    I’m just glad i can stay up as late as i want too.

    • Utley's Hair - Nov 1, 2010 at 1:48 PM

      Unless your captor tells you to seal your new ginormous deck.

  4. lateralsymmetry - Nov 1, 2010 at 10:20 AM

    I hear this discussed often, but it always seems to me like the discussion is done by a bunch of people who only live in the eastern time zone.

    Now, I’m not going to shout about “East Coast Bias”, but I do want to point out that the idea of starting World Series games at 7pm Eastern time (on a weeknight) means that, on the West Coast, these games are starting at 4 in the afternoon. Sure, that’s great for some people, but for a large demographic of daytime workers, people who head home at five, get home around six or seven, the game would already be in the seventh inning.

    (and the reason you don’t hear this complaint during the regular season is because during the season each team starts the game at their own appropriate time, according to their own time zone — that’s why I can stay up until midnight watching Dodgers games)

    I really don’t think there’s a great solution for this. I think the fairest might be to start the game at 7pm in the time zone where it’s being played, that way it’ll be at its most convenient for the hometown fans, and the rest of us can just adjust our lives to it, but I doubt that’ll happen.

    Anyway, my point is that there’s a lot of this country that doesn’t live in the Eastern Time Zone, and that’s a factor here.

    • gerryb323 - Nov 1, 2010 at 10:52 AM

      I agree on the too early start for the West Coast, but I think part of your problem is your 1-2 hour commute! If you live near where you work you can have a 10-15 minute commute and get home by the third inning!

  5. chipmaker023 - Nov 1, 2010 at 10:56 AM

    Having the early start on Saturday was witless. Kids can stay up later (or ask and probably get permission) on the weekend. Get the weekday games on a bit earlier — and cut out a lot of the pregame drivel — and that should help that next generation of baseball fans bloom.

    Also, getting off Fox and away from their hideous production style and moronic announcing crew would help. A lot.

  6. alexo0 - Nov 1, 2010 at 11:12 AM

    I think baseball needs a better show for the 7th inning stretch. Justin Bieber singing “God Bless America” definitely would have drawn better ratings.

    • scatterbrian - Nov 1, 2010 at 12:43 PM

      We need less of a show for the 7th inning stretch. Put “God Bless America” to rest. Baseball wants to consider itself to be global, and has over 25% of it’s players hailing from a country not called America. Why is there a need to play that stupid song?

      • doctorfunke - Nov 1, 2010 at 1:11 PM

        Wow, way to make yourself sound like an America-hating extremist. I hope this is sarcasm.

        What difference does it make that a small majority of the players aren’t from America? According to your math, that still leaves about 75% of its players hailing from this country. And I bet about 90% of the viewers at home are from the U.S.

        There is a need to play that song because Baseball is America’s pastime, and most of us take pride in having the privelege to live here and be able to watch a good ball game whenever the hell we want.

      • scatterbrian - Nov 1, 2010 at 1:51 PM

        I actually love this country, I don’t believe I need to revere that hackneyed song to show it though. Besides, we begin with the National Anthem. Do we really need another patriotic reminder at intermission?

        My overall point still stands: if baseball wants to be inclusive, it shouldn’t come off as exclusive.

      • lateralsymmetry - Nov 1, 2010 at 2:05 PM

        I agree with “scatterbrian” – we’re still starting off with the National Anthem, let’s go back to “Take Me Out To the Ballgame” for the seventh inning stretch (and that goes for Yankee home games, too).

  7. jonweisman - Nov 1, 2010 at 12:52 PM

    You need to keep in mind that baseball isn’t being blindsided by the low ratings for Saturday’s game. Obviously, they knew they were coming, otherwise they wouldn’t be so resistant to doing it. The only reason it happened this year is because Chevy agreed to underwrite the game as a main sponsor:

    MLB will do earlier starts as much as its sponsors allow it to. They want to court the younger fans with earlier starts. (Despite the fact that it’s not a school night, it’s not like East Coast kids below the age of 10 or whatever easily stay up until midnight.)

  8. yankeesfanlen - Nov 1, 2010 at 1:08 PM

    How about the not-too-little aspect of it being played the night before Halloween? Anyone hear of adult Halloween parties, or some communities having trick-or treat the night before?
    And to add to the confusion, everyone on Cablevision didn’t even know it would be broadcast. Sure, they reconnected two minutes before the first pitch, but we had checked at 7:30 and Fox5 still had the equivalent of a test pattern which was anti-Fox propaganda.

  9. seeingwhatsticks - Nov 1, 2010 at 2:56 PM

    The biggest problem in the ratings is that even when FOX shows the Rangers or Giants during the regular season, they are never actually shown nationally, only regionally, so people on the east coast have never seen these teams play, never heard of half the players, and have no connection to them. The message sent by broadcasting decisions made by ESPN and FOX throughout the year send the message that only the Yanks and Sox really matter, and so you get to this point in the season and most of the fans east of the Mississippi look at these teams and just feel like this World Series doesn’t “matter.” That they aren’t seeing something special or something great. I know people will say the Phillies would also spike the ratings, but that has as much to do with the fact that they’ve been in the playoffs the last few years as any inherent love of the Phillies that may exist out there. When you see a team have success repeatedly, and see them on tv repeatedly, you get a much greater sense of “seeing something” when they play. I honestly think FOX and MLB should reconsider the way they do regional/national games on Saturdays. I also think MLB should try to do more to show teams other than the Sox and Yanks on ESPN as well, with the full knowledge that the ratings will take a short term dip but with the hopes of creating long term interest in other franchises. If the networks and the league really can’t quit the Sox and Yanks then at least try and take advantage of interleague play and west coast road trips to showcase the other teams in the league. Not only does it kill the ratings when neither of those teams are playing, it creates a competitive advantage when it comes to signing players. For example, look at the deal Adrian Beltre signed this year. He took a 1 year deal from the Sox for less money than he probably could have gotten elsewhere because he and his agent realized that he would be showcased for that 1 year to a national audience. It’s the same way college football teams use TV exposure as a recruiting tool. So now, even wen they don’t just shell out more money, the Sox and Yanks still get whoever they really want.

    Having said all that, this Giants team isn’t going away with Buster Posey and the way they pitch, so we’re bound to start seeing them nationally a lot more since they are likely to be playing in the postseason for the next 5-7 years.

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