Wednesday, October 28, 2009

There is No Cold in Baseball; Major League Baseball Turns Its Back on Youthful Fans

It was the game of my youth. I grew up in Madison, located in southeast Indiana. 90 miles down the river the Big Red Machine played. The Reds first baseman ,Cuban-born Tony Perez, was my favorite player. He followed other Reds, catcher Johnny Bench and second baseman Joe Morgan, to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, which I refuse to set foot in until Pete Rose the Reds player (not the gambling Reds manager) who has more hits than anyone in the 130 plus year history of the game, is inducted.

But I digress from my intended topic. Today, October 28, 2009, marks the start of the 2009 World Series. It should be a happy time watching the hated Yankees lose to the Phillies in the Fall Classic. It is not. Baseball executives are killing my sport. Let me explain.

For anyone who has played (as I have) or watched the game, baseball is a wonderful summertime game. One of the best experiences in the City is knocking off work early and attending a day game at Victory Field. But when the temperatures plunge toward freezing, the national pastime becomes a miserable experience both for players and fans.

Tonight, the first pitch in the Bronx will be thrown about 8 p.m. These post-season games tend to last much longer than the regular season, I expect it to be nearly midnight and in the 40s before the game ends, a cold, rainy miserable evening in New York City.

The Classic 1975 World Series involving the Reds and Red Sox began on October 11th and was over well before the NBA season started. This year's World Series starts 17 days later and will go several days into November, crossing the start of the NBA regular season. Back then many playoff games were during the day, something you rarely see anymore. I still remember in my youth seeing then Commissioner Bowie Kuhn attending one of the then infrequent playoff night games, refusing to wear an overcoat because he did not want to admit it was too cold for baseball. My how times have changed.

The time of the games leads to a second problem. To become a fan of baseball, you have to grow up watching the sport. Starting playoff games at 8 pm almost assures that the possible future fans of the sport will be in bed long before the games are concluded. It is hard to build a following among the youth when you make the most important games of the season inaccessible to them. Baseball executives have sacrificed the future young fans of the game to start games when the maximum number of adults would see them, i.e. prime time. It is a short-sighted decision that is haunting Major League Baseball as the sport continues to decline in popularity.


Downtown Indy said...

Before the advertisers ruled the land, the world series was played in the daytime. It was common practice to smuggle (although it wasn't truly forbidden to possess one) a transistor radio and earphone into class. I had hollowed out a book and kept mine in that.

Paul K. Ogden said...

In one of my classes, the teacher let us watch a New York Mets-Reds playoff game. I think he got in trouble for that. He should have figured a clever way to incorporate it into a lesson plan and he might have gotten away with it.

Had Enough Indy? said...

sports and money
sports and money
sports and money

8:00 here is 5:00 on the west coast

One question, will there be any weekend day games? Unless the Red Sox are in the World Series I really don't pay any attention.

Bill said...

No, Pat they don't even have weekend day games in the World Series any more.

You're right about the reason for the night games. It's about money. But long term it's costing them more money by losing fans.

Sorry about 1975 Red Sox Pat.

Paul K. Ogden said...

I agree Bill. Major Leage Baseball's strategy is short-sighted.

Downtown Indy said...

The opening game seemed to have a whole lot of non-smiling people, all bundled up because of the cold.

MLBWS panorama