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World Series: Turn back clock on baseball

by Berry Tramel Modified: April 15, 2009 at 4:59 am •  Published: April 15, 2009
After waiting 86 years to win a World Series, the Boston Red Sox waited only three years to win another.

They swept the Colorado Rockies in 2007. All four games ended after midnight Eastern time.

Think about that for a minute. Sure, most of New England went to school or work bleary-eyed that week. The Red Sox are like Oklahoma football: The devotion knows no bounds.

But who else stayed awake to watch Josh Beckett and Curt Schilling pitch Boston past Colorado?

Which is one reason why commissioner Bud Selig said last week he wants a day-game World Series or earlier start times for the night games or, best of all, both.

Moving the World Series to night in the early ’70s ushered in a new generation of baseball fan. But turning the World Series into competition with Letterman and Leno for the late-night audience has cost baseball a generation.

Here are some sobering World Series numbers. In 1986, the Red Sox-Mets World Series drew a 28.7 television rating. In 2007, the Red Sox-Rockies drew a 10.7 rating. Last fall, the Phillies-Rays drew an 8.7.

What once was the nation’s greatest sporting spectacle has fallen to an afterthought. World Series interest is in free fall, and the reason is simple.

Late starting times plus long games equals I’m going to bed.

I looked at the last five World Series, which included 22 games.

Average time of first pitch: 8:27 p.m. Eastern. Average game length: three hours, 20 minutes.

Seventeen of those 22 games finished after 11:30 Eastern, which is 10:30 p.m. here in Middle America. Ten of the 22 ended after midnight Eastern.

That’s ridiculous. The television question about the World Series is not why so few are watching, but how in the world so many stay tuned in?

Since Game 5 of the 1984 World Series, only one World Series day game has been played, and that was Game 6 of 1987, played in Minnesota’s Metrodome.

by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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