East coast fans, rejoice, for you may actually get to see the end of a World Series game this year and still be functional the next morning:
The first pitch of World Series games will be scheduled for shortly before 8 p.m. ET this season, USA Today and MLB.com reported Monday. The start time is at least 30 minutes earlier than games began last season, USA Today reported. Fox's pregame show will begin at 7:30 p.m. ET, USA Today reported.
This season will be the first in 30 years in which World Series games start before 8 p.m. ET, MLB.com reported, citing Major League Baseball records.
"I really feel good about where we are," said commissioner Bud Selig, MLB.com reported. "Our goal is to schedule games so the largest number of people can watch, and Fox has gone to an enormous amount of effort to make this happen. It's been a great joint effort between the two us."
I'm happy about this primarily for selfish reasons -- I live in the Eastern time zone and I wake up early, so watching full games is a tall order when they (a) don't start until 8:30 or later; (b) the commercial breaks are longer than usual, which they are in the postseason; and (c) when the games involve the Yankees or the Red Sox who seem to be physically incapable of playing games in less than three and a half hours.
In light of this news there will be a lot of talk about how it benefits the kids. I appreciate that, yes, more kids will get to see more of a given World Series game now, but I also tend to think this concern has long been overstated. They've been playing World Series games exclusively at night for twenty-five years now, so that old line about how the game risks alienating younger fans rings pretty false. And let us remember, the one event that many point to when discussing baseball's resurgence in popularity in the 1970s was the Carlton Fisk homer in the 1975 World Series that galvanized a nation. That happened after midnight. Sure, the 1975 version of me may have been asleep in my armchair and would have had to watch it on the highlight shows the next morning, but everyone survived it, so the move to earlier games, while most welcome, is probably not as critical as everyone says.
And let's not forget that there could be a downside. Contrary to popular belief, the country doesn't end at the Ohio River, and there are some good teams playing in those time zones out west. What happens if the Dodgers and Angels meet up this October? Are fans in California going to be happy with the notion of World Series games -- their World Series games -- starting before even the guys who punch out the moment the clock strikes five even get off work? Can you imagine the outcry if a Red Sox-Phillies World Series game started at 4:30? The whole coast would probably be burning by nightfall.
So yes, I still think this is a good move, but things don't always go as we expect them to. If a couple of things break funny here we could have a situation in which, in an effort to make the World Series more accessible, the lords of baseball and broadcasting will have actually worked to make it more inaccessible to those who care the most.