Yesterday Major League Baseball announced when the 2011 postseason schedule will start and that there will be fewer off-days.
The postseason will actually begin before the calendar turns to October (the benefit of starting the season on the last Thursday in March this season instead of the last Sunday). The first games will be on Sept. 30 (a Friday).
I've longed for the day when teams go back to playing back-to-back (or back-to-back-to-back) games in the postseason, especially when they don't leave the city they are playing in. This announcement by MLB is great for that reason.
Baseball is a game of momentum. When teams are given days off without travel, it can change the momentum from one team to another or it can give one team's bullpen more rest—both of which can change the outcome of the series.
There is no reason a best-of-seven postseason series should take more than nine days (barring weather issues, of course). Teams will now play two games, travel, play three games, travel, and then finish out Games 6 and 7 on back-to-back days.
The only other change I wish Bud Selig and Co. would make would be for earlier start times. I understand that the television networks pretty much decide the start times of all the games so they can maximize ratings (read as money). But if it wasn't for rain delays in 2008, when the Philadelphia Phillies played the Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series, it would have been close to a decade (if not longer) since a World Series-winning celebration took place before midnight Eastern Time.
If baseball wants to increase its fanbase, the games need to end before children's bedtimes—or at least before 11 p.m. ET. The best baseball of the season happens in October, but young fans (the future of the fanbase) rarely see complete games and victory celebrations because they've been asleep for hours.
Even adults have a hard time staying up to see the ninth inning of a playoff game. Some of us older fans have to get up very early in the morning (or simply have a hard time staying awake!) so we regrettably simply can't afford to stay awake past midnight.
For baseball fans overseas, it's even worse. I can remember being deployed to Kosovo during the 2001 World Series and going for days with very little if any sleep because the games didn't start until 3 a.m. It was made even worse when the Yankees kept coming back in Games 4 and 5 and sending the games into extra-innings.
I know this is one thing that will likely never change in baseball. The sheer amount of money the television networks pay to air the games is because of the money they bring in because the ratings are higher the later the games start.
During October, I think I'll just move to the West Coast. That is the best place to live if you're a sports fan because the games are aired at the best times.
That really isn't an option, though. I guess I'll just have to hope for an occasional mid-afternoon Saturday or Sunday playoff game. While I'm hoping, maybe I'll hope for a million dollars too.
What do you think? Should baseball air games at more "fan friendly" times? Please comment below.