Might our long national nightmare finally be over? Bob Wolfley:
- Fox Sports and Major League Baseball are working on an agreement to start 2009 World Series games sooner than they have in the past.
Both the network and baseball, in an almost annual October ritual, have been criticized for starting those games too late.
The president of Fox Sports, Ed Goren, said Tuesday that the two sides had been working to reach an agreement to get to the first pitches in those games sooner.
"We are working with baseball and I think we all have the same agenda," Goren said. "And this is to get to first pitch more efficiently than we have in the past. We are continuing to have discussions to make that happen."
Goren declined to be specific about how much sooner the sides are considering, but an industry source suggested all the first pitches in the Series might come as soon as 7:50 p.m. Eastern and perhaps no later than 8 p.m. Eastern.
In the past, Fox typically has gone to air at 8 p.m. Eastern, with the first pitch coming around 8:20 p.m. in Games 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7. In Games 1 and 3, when player introductions take place, Fox goes to air at 8 p.m. Eastern, with the first pitch in the 8:35 p.m. range.
"The real question is how early we will be getting to first pitch," Goren said. "It will be earlier than in the past. I'm confident we will come up with a plan that will be effective."
Commissioner Bud Selig said during an interview with Sirius XM Radio on Monday that it was his desire to put in place earlier start times for the World Series this season.
Selig also said he would like to see a day game start for a Series game.
"I'm working hard because I happen to believe not only in a late afternoon game but in earlier starting times and I'm not going to be happy until we get those."
I hope you're amused -- as I am -- when commissioner Bud Selig suggests that gosh, he'd love to start the games earlier but of course such things are completely out of his hands.
Look: Nothing happens on commissioner Bud's watch without commissioner Bud's say. Major League Baseball took Fox's billion dollars (or whatever), and in return Fox bought (among other things) the freedom to start the games at whatever time it likes. There wasn't a moment, after the deal was signed, where Selig smacked his forehead and said, "We gave them what?" MLB could have contractually bound Fox (or whomever) to start the games earlier; MLB chose not to do that, presumably because it would have cost MLB some money.
All of which is highly defensible, except for the part where commissioner Bud Selig pretends that his hands are completely clean.
Don't worry, though ... this is not completely about bashing Bud. Because I also have to ask: Should we really care? Will starting games 20 or 30 minutes earlier really make a material difference to anyone?
Yeah, I suppose that it would. It would make a difference to the many thousands of fans who retired to bed before the final pitch, or who fell asleep on the couch and missed something in those last 20 or 30 minutes. But this is not a matter of national importance. It's 20 or 30 minutes, six or seven times every fall.