Eastern Failure in a Western Time Zone: Sports' Biggest Unresolved Issue

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Eastern Failure in a Western Time Zone: Sports' Biggest Unresolved Issue
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(Originally posted on 4SportBoston.com )

Recently, I got into a conversation with good friend Nick from North Station Sports about the complete disadvantage that West Coast games are for East Coast teams.

This is not a new phenomena as we visited this thought back in the 4SportBoston infant stages on May 16th. The Red Sox, at that time, had an absurd 38-53 record (1-3 after that was written, including back-to-back ALDS losses in Anaheim) in games played on the West Coast in the five years that Terry Francona had been manager. And these problems are no different in other sports.

Think about the complete disadvantage that these East Coast teams are at. Monday night, the Celtics played a game in Oakland against the Golden State Warriors. This game started at 7:30 p.m. PST, which is 10:30 p.m. EST and ended at 1 a.m. EST.

For players who are used to playing games at 7-8 p.m. and also had a 2:30 p.m. game three days earlier, this was a big hit to their internal clocks.

Looking at how this time difference really effects the teams is amazing.

The Red Sox (95-67) went 4-10 on the West Coast this past season. These games were played at the Angels, Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics, two of whom are not perennial powerhouses.

The 2008-2009 Celtics team that went 62-20 were a startling 1-4 in West Coast games against the Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Clippers and Lakers and their sole win coming in Sacramento against the Kings. The C's averaged 91.4 points per game during this stretch, and we know that to be below average for this Celtics club.

This season's struggles for the Celtics on the West Coast are fresh in our memory as they dropped three straight, finishing up with a tough loss in Phoenix last night. Granted they were missing Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and "Big Baby" Glen Davis for this game, but to loose to the Clippers and Warriors should not be an option for a team hoping for an amazing season. This team is now 0-3 on the West Coast during the current 23-8 season.

As for the Bruins, last season they posted a 53-19-10 record with a 24-13-4 road record overall. Their West Coast games? 3-1. Damn them for ruining our point. But you see where I am going with this.

This season they have played one West Coast night game and that was in Phoenix (for which our own El Mustachio was in attendance). They lost that game 4-1, and the B's are currently 20-12-7 this season. They do have a couple upcoming West Coast games on January 13th (Anaheim Ducks) and 14th (San Jose Sharks), so we will have to see how the B's are effected by the time difference there.

Of the four major pro sports leagues, the one that has its scheduling somewhat correct is the NFL. They have their set time slots each week and those slots are filled no matter where the game is played. We always know on Sunday afternoon there will be games on at 1 p.m. EST, 4 p.m. EST, and 8:20 p.m. EST. Then, there is always the Thursday, Saturday, and Monday night games in there with their respective time slots.

But even the NFL has seen some criticism on the reverse end with West Coast teams having issues playing on the East Coast. But that is a whole other article that I just linked to. Enjoy.

The Patriots don't have an issue when they travel to play Oakland for a 4 p.m. game because it is 1 p.m. there and 4 p.m. here on the East Coast.

So why don't the other sports take this kind of idea into account when scheduling their sporting events? It's clear that it's all about revenue.

Unlike the NFL, these other sports are playing each and every weekday. Keeping the working fan in mind, games are scheduled for the local evening hours in order to keep the stands full and the concessions pumping. We get it. Working fans have money, their money is the team's/sport's money.

But in all honestly, this issue of time has to be addressed in a major league forum. There is obviously a correlation between these games that are ending after midnight Eastern Time for players whose bodily clocks are set to count down New Year's tonight with the NYC ball drop.

We don't celebrate midnight on New Year's Eve with a hotel explosion in Vegas. We watch a fancy crystal ball drop slowly while listening to Dick Clark slur out the final 10 seconds and watch the kid from Fall Out Boy kiss Jessica Simpson 2.0, even though they look like they're both 15. And you know what we do after that? We go to bed. Because it is 12:01 a.m., and we are tired.

Well commissioners Davis Stern, Gary Bettman and Bud Selig, we East Coasters want a change!

Clearly, 4SportBoston isn't the only place concerned with this either, as the "American Sleep Disorders Association and Sleep Research Society" did a whole study on it using the NFL Monday Night Football schedule to prove this. They concluded through their tests that, "This advantage appears to be substantial relative to the margin of victory in today's elite athletic competition."

Also, the "Associated Professional Sleep Societies" seems to think that the MLB time-zone situation is quite interesting, stating that it takes "a day to get over a one-time-zone change... What matters is whether they're attuned to the local time... By day three of their trip, the (East Coast team) playing in (West Coast city) are essentially a west coast team."

Oh, and don't forget "The American College of Sports Medicine" study stating, "West teams displayed uniformly high home winning percentages (75.0% and 68.4%) when playing Central and East teams, respectively, with little or no fall in away winning percentages (67.7% and 68.8%)."

How much more proof do we need? Do we need to see more East Coast teams with tough runs playing on the West Coast? More sleepy eyes East Coast fans when their teams are playing in LA, Oakland and Seattle for the week?

This issue is huge. The East Coast sports fan is not only feeling the effects in their bank accounts, while drinking four iced coffees after a late night of watching their favorite team lose on the West Coast, but our ritual investment into our teams is tarnished as well.

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