If you are a fan of MLB, you have probably aware of how games are set up on Sunday’s. Every week, 28 teams will play during the day as they close out the week. But two teams square off with one another at 8:00 pm EST on ESPN for Sunday Night Baseball. There is at least one player who is not a fan of this concept. His name is Brad Ziegler, a relief pitcher for the Miami Marlins.
On Sunday evening, at 9:44 pm EST, Ziegler sent out a tweet. In said tweet, the reliever voiced his opinion on the late night game. The tweet can be seen below.
Hey @espn, 8 pm starting time on Sunday is one of the dumbest things in baseball today. Casual fan is not going to watch after 4th inning.
— Brad Ziegler (@BradZiegler) May 1, 2017
I have got to say, I am with 37-year-old righty from the Marlins. Let’s run down a few points, shall we?
For starters, let’s look at this from a fans point of view. Since it is a Sunday, a good portion of the audience will need to be at work or school the next morning. So unless you are like me, a night owl, you will want to get to bed at a decent hour.
With a game starting at eight on the East coast, there is a really good chance it lasts until 11 o’clock. And that is if things move along normally. If the game is high scoring or goes to extra innings, things can easily push towards midnight.
So if your team is not playing, are you really going to stay up until the end of the game? In most cases, I would venture to guess no. Now, I have not seen any numbers in regards to viewers, so I can’t say for sure people are tuning out. But logically, it would make sense. Which supports Mr. Ziegler’s point.
Sure it tends to be a solid matchup. For example, last night saw two of the most iconic teams in MLB going at it with the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox. So sure, I will tune in at the beginning. But unless it is a really good game, the longest a fan who doesn’t have a personal connection to either team will last is until about 10 O’clock. That puts the game roughly around the 6th inning.
If we go to the other side of the country, we have the game starting at five. In other words, right around dinner time. So West coast viewers may miss the start of the game. If they have an interest in either team, they may tune in for the end. But when you are not committed from the start, there is no guarantee that happens.
Now, what about the actual players and teams?
Sunday tends to be the last game of a series. Very rarely will you a series wrap around into Monday. The last game of a series is typically called “getaway day”. This is because once the game is over, teams will need to travel unless they are home and are remaining home for the next series.
Back to last night’s example. The game started at 8:00 in Boston. The game went until 11:38 on the East coast. Luckily for the Red Sox, they do not need to leave town, as they will be hosting the Baltimore Orioles Monday evening. But as the road team, the Cubs are a lock to leave town once the game concluded.
In this case, they will be traveling back home to Chicago. But once the game is over and all the players get freshened up, they are not getting on the plane until after midnight. Arrival back in Chicago would then be somewhere in the early hours of the morning.
Next week they will be in the same position as well. The next ESPN Sunday Night Baseball game we get will pit the New York Yankees against the Cubs in Chicago. After the conclusion of that game, the Yankees will have a short flight to Cincinnati. The Cubs on the other hand, go to Colorado.
In other words, it is an inconvenience to the members of the team. By playing earlier in the day, they do not need to worry about the late night flights that result in the arrivals early Monday morning. But things always boil down to money and ratings.
By claiming that prime time slot on Sunday night, ESPN knows there will be little competition for views. But when you look at the bigger picture, it just does not seem to make much sense outside of the money purposes. No one really ever questions Sunday Night Baseball.
But Ziegler’s tweet got me thinking (Hence this article). He is spot on. So while it is not likely to change anytime soon, I applaud the right-hander for speaking up on the matter. ESPN is the only one that benefits from the late night game.
What are your thoughts on Sunday Night Baseball? Do you like he 8:00 pm EST timeslot? Should the idea be scrapped completely? Tell us what you think in the comments!