So the people who run baseball and the people who run Fox Sports are thinking about having an afternoon World Series game, and about starting the night games earlier. Gee, nobody ever thought of that before.
Well, nobody since last year's World Series.
|Dioner Navarro could tell you about late-night World Series games ... in late October ... in the Northeast. (Getty Images)|
Put another way, if the Yankees had played the Cubs, or the Red Sox had played the Dodgers, this discussion would never have begun.
We mention this in case you're thinking of crediting someone for finally understanding how the younger demographic categories that skew toward the NFL and NBA don't stay up past midnight to watch baseball games.
We also mention this because the NFL and NBA also start some games at 8:30 and even later, and their postseason games go deep into the evening as well. They're not talking about day games or 8 p.m. starts.
In other words, this sudden interest in day baseball and reasonable night ball that we are hearing about now is solely and entirely an acknowledgement by the TV folks that their pregame show doesn't generate sufficient viewers or advertising to eat a half-hour of network time.
This is in case you're thinking that Bud Selig has finally won his long crusade for letting children watch the end of a postseason baseball game before they turn 25.
Understand something here. Bud Selig isn't stupid, and he never has been. He doesn't get into trouble because he hasn't thought through a problem, or figured out how to get ownership support for solving that problem. He gets into trouble because he isn't always forthright, and because he worries too much about his legacy, but that's not the issue here.
This is just Bud spotting the parade forming for a new postseason scheduling mechanism and leaping nimbly in front of it. The conditions he decries have existed for years. The difference is that Fox is less enamored of the pregame show format than it used to be, to the point where it got rid of the pregame show in the regular season package. Fox did that because it was harder to sell ads, not because the show was, in and of itself, worse than it had been before.
Hey, viewer patterns are changing, and there's no crime in acknowledging that. It shows forward thinking and adaptability, things many CEOs in many companies don't.
But this won't be another economic polemic pushing out the sports stuff. You already have plenty of that in your day.
We'd just like it if we didn't always have to look for the reason why something casual folks knew long ago has suddenly dawned on the game's servants. It has dawned on the game's servants not because the audience has changed, but because the advertising market has changed.
So just say that. Just say that. Say, "Our television partner doesn't want the extra half-hour any more, so we're moving game times up, and we're thinking about the weekend day game because our partner would rather have Saturday night for something else."
After all, you get more credit by deflecting credit than by reaching for it or worse, by trying to frame it. In these times (sorry), adjustments are not a sign of weakness, they are a sign of paying attention. Bud Selig is paying attention, and even though it is largely paying attention to his TV partner, it does show that he isn't the caricature of obliviousness that has dogged his career.
See, credit where credit is due, and for the right reason. That didn't hurt so much, did it?
Ray Ratto is a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle.