Sunday, October 09, 2005

Strange Bedfellows: Baseball and TV Execs

Don't get me wrong, I am absolutely ecstatic about the Cardinal's victory late Saturday nig-- sorry, EARLY Sunday morning.

But: by the time Padres’ pitcher Woody Williams threw the first pitch of Game 3, Major League Baseball's bedtime special, the Cardinals and Padres had played only one game since late Tuesday afternoon. That's a span of 4 1/2 calendar days, covering more than 100 hours.

Absolutely absurd.

Game 1 in St. Louis started at noon Central, which presumably shut out many working Padres fans who had no opportunity to watch a game that began at 10 a.m. on the West Coast. A baseball breakfast might be a fun and doable diversion on the weekends, but not on a Tuesday morning. (And the afternoon starting times of Games 1 and 2 also put many St. Louis fans in the position of choosing between baseball and work, baseball and getting paid.)

Saturday’s schedule was idiotic. Assuming that the contest would last about three hours, Game 3's starting time of 10:00 P.M. (10:09 p.m. for all you OCD types) St. Louis time required Cardinals fans to stay up past 1 a.m. (I personally, after attending my wife’s 15 year High School Reunion – and drinking a little in the process --, stayed up until after 1:30 AM Sunday morning to see the end of the game)

And let us not forget that this franchise does have a healthy national following, so how about those on the East Coast? Fans or not, would you be able to stay awake beyond 2 a.m.?

This rude scheduling is outrageous, made worse by something that was brought to my attention by St. Louis Post Dispatch columnist Bernie Miklasz who stated in a column in the online edition of the paper that in 2002, the Cardinals played an NLDS game at Arizona that began after 10 p.m., which caused an embarrassed Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig to apologize to the fans of St. Louis and then declared that he would ban late-night starts in the future.

Selig must have been taking lessons from the GOP, cause he lied.

Three years later, Bud once again decided to kneel down before the Lords of TV and grant them a schedule that THEY wanted.

I know baseball is a business, in fact I have written an earlier blog about that fact, but, a 10:00PM start is still ridiculous. How exactly that is better TV business is beyond me. No other division series was as split-up as the Cardinals and Padres were. The three other series had schedules calling for the teams to play their first two games on consecutive days, take a day off, and then play the final three games without another break. The Cardinals and Padres on the other hand had more days off (two) than games (one).

Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

The Baseball powers that be say that one reason for spreading the postseason schedule out is to make sure that no two baseball postseason games are on at the same time (cause, you know, the NFL doesn’t do that…wait a minute, yes they do. Well, the NBA do--…no, they do to. College football does it. The NHL does it. Hell, even the Olympics do it.)

The purported reason for this is to give the fans a chance in theory to see every game (In theory? In the words of Homer J. Simpson, “In theory, communism works…in theory.”)

Ok. Sure. They make it easier for fans to see all the games, except when they decide to put the start time at 10:00 PM.Saturday though, St. Louis and San Diego got the last laugh.The Chicago White Sox vs. Boston Red Sox series was already over (Being a Card fan and being at Game 4 of the World Series last year when the Sox swept the Cards, it was an ABSOLUTE pleasure to see the Red Sox get kicked out of the playoffs…that’s Karma. And add to that the fact that the White Sox’ success is annoying Cubs' fans...well, that's a bargain at half the price)

Game 4 of the Anaheim Angels vs. New York Yankees was rained out. (I HATE the Yankees even MORE than the Cubs by the way)Baseball had no playoff game to televise during the early afternoon hours, and was empty for the late-afternoon slot.

A nice lesson for Major League Baseball, but I still feel like all us Cardinal fans got screwed with our pants on.