Doing the Right Thing, MLB-style

It’s always great to report when a professional sports league does the right thing by its fans. 

And Bud Selig, fresh off a weekend of regaling University of Wisconsin graduates with tales of his unforeseen “baseball life” during remarks at commencement exercises for the Class of 2009, gets the credit for this one.

Bud Selig, 1956 University of Wisconsin graduate, addresses the UW Class of 2009

Bud Selig, 1956 University of Wisconsin graduate, addresses the UW Class of 2009

The MLB Commissioner announced today that starting times for weeknight and Saturday World Series games will be scheduled to allow for first pitch no later than 7:57pm (Eastern time). 

Much credit also goes to FOX, baseball’s television partner for the World Series, who persuaded their affiliates to make room for postseason baseball pregame shows to begin at 7:30pm.

Michael Hiestand of USA Today points out that this will be the earliest scheduled start time for a weeknight Series game in at least 34 years.

A couple of quick notes on this, for clarification. 

One, Sunday night World Series games will continue to maintain later start times to accommodate FOX’s Sunday NFL coverage. 

And, two, this fall’s American League Championship Series (televised by FOX) will follow the same schedule.  TBS, which broadcasts the Divisional Series and this year’s National League Championship Series (alternating league series with FOX), is still in discussions with MLB over start times.

Disregard the fine print on this news, however, and rejoice over the fact that Selig, FOX, and all other decision-makers involved recognize that playoff games that regularly end near midnight on the East Coast are not good for the game. 

Selig may minimize the importance that this news has for keeping young viewers interested in baseball long-term, but this had to be a major factor in the decision to move forward with these changes.

Selig has even pushed for a Saturday World Series game to get a daytime start, and though that is not likely with the increased competition from college football in October, I agree with Bud it would bring extra attention and excitement to the sport if Fox was to acquiesce at some point in the future.

Small, but meaningful, steps today in thinking about the future of MLB. 

Bud is around, health willing, through 2012.  I hope to see more announcements of this tenor over the next few years as he cements his legacy on the game.

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~ by acm213 on May 18, 2009.

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