Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Into the night

The Colorado Rockies won the National League pennant last night. This morning, actually, if you live on the East Coast, where the Rockies' four-game sweep ended at about 1:30 a.m.

Did you see it? Probably not. TV ratings for prior games were at record lows.

Imagine had the Mets been playing the Rockies instead of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Would New York baseball fans have stayed up until the wee hours to watch their heroes? Some, I suppose. But most have to get up for work or school. They might not even have caught the first pitch at about 10:30 Eastern time.

There's no perfect solution to post-season scheduling.

In the old days, all the games were in the afternoon, so most day laborers couldn't see them and school children would run home to view only an inning or two. (But at least the weekend games were during the day.) Then the games switched to prime time on the East, which meant West Coast fans might have trouble tuning in for the first few innings in their late afternoon.

But something else happened: The games became increasingly long. More commercials, deeper pitch counts, frequent pitching changes, among other things, stretched what should have been a 2 1/2 or 3-hour matches to nearly four hours.

Again, there's no perfect solution. But it just isn't right when a game that decides the National League pennant is seen by few fans and ends too late for it to be reported in the next day's papers. Commissioner Selig, please go back to the drawing board.
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