The first day of the NCAA basketball tournament is the best to many a fan, nary a minute passing from noon past midnight without the bounce of a ball.
Friday is MLB’s version, the only postseason day sure to have all four series playing, nary a minute passing from noon to midnight without a pitch being thrown (unless the Dodgers-Nationals ends quickly, which is possible).
Saturday the AL is off and Sunday the NL is and by Monday, when all four series are again scheduled to play on the same day, there’s the chance of a sweep having ended one in the AL.
It won’t be long till MLB is down to the World Series, all at night, and the prominent argument against it will be reared again: What about the children? How will they follow baseball if they can’t stay up to watch it?
Maybe by paying attention to the three weeks before the World Series.
Fifty years ago, the Dodgers and Orioles played a World Series on four days in October and the season was over. Friday there will be almost that many daytime playoff games in one afternoon: three postseason games starting at 5:30 p.m. or earlier. Is that early enough? And two of the those games match Cy Young Award winners (David Price vs. Corey Kluber and Max Scherzer vs. Clayton Kershaw).
If you’re not interested in baseball after this afternoon, maybe you’re not interested in baseball, and maybe MLB shouldn’t worry about catering the start times to those that aren’t.
Even if all four divisional series are sweeps, there will still be at least six afternoon games in that round, as many as in most World Series years before 1969, and more in the next. The World Series may not be in the afternoon, but plenty of postseason baseball is.
Maybe it’s not a lack of exposure to the postseason baseball officials should worry about, but overexposure. The kids, if they like baseball, will be all right.
Yes, the ratings are down for postseason baseball, but pointing at the 8:30 World Series time is a simple answer for a complex question. Causation doesn’t always mean correlation.
On to Thursday’s games:
- Blue Jays 10, Rangers 1: Jose Bautista homered and didn’t flip his bat, which no doubt didn’t assuage the Rangers fans who were left. Cole Hamels was NLCS and World Series MVP in 2008, but since then he has a 4.78 postseason ERA and a 3-5 record, and that includes a 2010 divisional series shutout and a six-inning scoreless start in the 2011 NLDS. David Price isn’t alone in having postseason trouble. Hamels might have been helped had Ian Desmond not made like Nelson Cruz in the 2011 World Series on Troy Tulowitzki’s bases-loaded triple, and who knows what happens if it’s 2-0 instead of 5-0. What is it with Rangers’ outfielders and walls? The visiting team has won five of the last six divisional series games between the two, only the Jays winning at home in Game 5. At this pace, the Rangers hope there is a Game 5.
- Indians 5, Red Sox 4: The Red Sox got homers from their No. 8 and 9 hitters and three hits from Brock Holt and lost. Terry Francona pulled Trevor Bauer one out from a win for Andrew Miller, who threw 40 pitches, and finished with Cody Allen, who threw 40 pitches. What will he do for a bullpen Friday? He might not need one if Kluber pitches as he did in the regular season (216/274/357 against) or if David Price pitches (258/301/420, 30 homers allowed) as he did. Thursday’s game was a sellout, which might have prompted team officials to ask where everyone has been all season. The Indians were 28th in average attendance at 19,650, little more than half what they drew Thursday. Maybe they were waiting for the weather to change. And, yes, Dustin Pedroia swung at strike three in the ninth. As Twins fans can attest from the 2009 ALDS, Phil Cuzzi might not know fair from foul, but he knows a swing from a check.