Monday, October 15, 2007

Won’t Somebody Think of the Children!

In the interest of keeping the topics on this blog nice and fresh, I’ve asked Mike Freeman of CBS Sportsline to write about a new, interesting topic that’s not discussed every year during the NBA and MLB playoffs. Take it away Mike!

Mike: Sure, here goes!

MLB playoffs? Great action, but it's past our bedtime


If these postseason baseball games go any later into the night they'll have to be simulcast on Cinemax.

Why? That doesn’t make any sense. Oh I know, so you can make a follow-up joke….

Sandwiched between Cheerleader Diaries 7 and Emmanuelle in London.

LOL. Let’s skip down to where Mike gets to his point.

A question for Major League Baseball: Have you ever heard of the word "afternoon"?

His point is to write the same column often written about the poor East coast fans, especially the kids, who can’t watch anything on TV that starts at 8 or 9. I’ve heard this blamed as the reason why MLB and NBA have, in the past, lost fans (ratings going down).

The playoffs have been surprisingly good, and the sport is healthy and vital. Commissioner Bud Selig has won over even the harshest of critics, proving to be a skilled and deft leader after initially being a stumbling clown.

What the fuck has Bud Selig done to be called a “skilled and deft leader”? The baseball is good. Bud Selig isn’t the one playing.

But these late games are where baseball continues to go grossly wrong. Not only do you lose hardcore baseball fans for the sake of corporate cash because people, you know, work and all. Worse than that is the self-inflicted damage baseball is doing to its future.

That second sentence sums up my frustration with this general point. People DO work, which is why you should have games on at prime-time on the East coast. How does starting the game at 5 or 6 East coast time help those working on the West Coast take in the game? Sure, the East coast kids get to see – but should we tailor the entire postseason schedule around 5-12 year-olds on the East coast? There is no perfect balance here. 7-8 PM EST makes the most sense to me.

One of the big reasons the NFL overtook baseball is because football respected its young fans. The bulk of pro football games are played at times when kids can put on their team's jersey and watch the game with Mom and Dad.

Mike, what do all but 1 of this week’s NFL football games have in common? Got it yet? They were played on Sunday! The NFL, when it plays during the week, NEVER plays during the afternoon.

That's how you build a young viewership that remains loyal for decades. You allow kids that are five, eight, 10, 15 years old to watch your games. Seems pretty simple.

Fuck that. I get home from work between 6:30 and 8. I don’t care if little 5 year old Timmy down the street gets to watch the rest of the playoff game.

Even the NFL's late games Sunday and Monday night end at a somewhat manageable hour. Most of football's postseason contests begin in the afternoon; the Super Bowl starts during the dinner hour.

No, sorry, the late games don’t end at a manageable hour for a kid with a normal bedtime. I don’t think you can compare the NFL to MLB in this situation, because, again, they play mostly on weekends. Their Monday night games end late – between 11:30 and midnight. 5-15 year olds aren’t watching that. The Super Bowl is on Sunday. Sundays are different. How many times does this need to be said?

You see, baseball has yet to grasp the concept that you can be greedy corporate bastards and still somewhat serve the fans. The NFL does it every day.

No, they do it on Sunday and Monday. Monday’s game is on at prime-time in the East.

Baseball isn't just greedy; baseball is stubborn and thick-headed. That's a bad combination.

The steps baseball can take to fix this problem are simple. They're so simple baseball needs to be slapped upside the head for not doing them.

First, play every game in the afternoon, particularly Sunday, the day before the work week starts. Sure, baseball will be competing against the NFL, but it does now anyway. Earlier games make fans happy, and that will pay dividends decades in the future.

No, this doesn’t work. If you play every game in the afternoon, then the kids are at school/sports on the West Coast, the parents on the West Coast are at work, and the East Coast parents are working/just getting home for the end. So the only people that benefit are the kids on the East Coast who don’t play any after school sports. See how this makes no sense?

It also makes zero business sense. So, yeah, let's piss off millions of fans and make less money so the East coast kids can watch!

Second, no game should start later than 6 p.m. ET. Baseball maintains this will hurt West Coast fans, but trust me: They'll find a way to watch in California, dude. My Eastern bias might be showing, but the remainder of the country is better served by earlier starts.

Your Eastern bias is showing a tad, dude. Actually, the entire country, EXCEPT the east coast, is not better served by (somewhat) earlier starts. Afternoon starts make no sense….anywhere.

If baseball continues down the path of its games ending so late, they'll bleed young fans forever.

I would like to bet Mike Freeman eleventy-seventy gillian dollars that baseball will not “bleed young fans” just because the playoffs start during prime time on the East coast. I would also bet that ratings would be murdered if games started in the afternoon, during the week, as he suggested. It’s not like they recently started the current TV schedule, they’ve been doing it for a long time, and baseball seems pretty popular to me….even with the poor children. If Mike was right then we would be seeing a disproportionate amount of baseball fans on the West Coast. Does that seem to be the case? Nope.

Cinemax, anyone?

Still makes no sense.


Matt said...

The article was pretty crumby, and I didn't even read it all as it was a re-hash of the same article that has been written and re-written 1000 times. But I do find it ridiculous that MLB doesn't play it's Saturday games in the afternoon. Sox/Indians game 2 went until well past 1 am last weekend - what the hell's the rationale there? Are they really that afraid of going head-to-head against college football?

Jeff said...

I agree with afternoons on Saturdays and even Sundays. During the week makes no sense.