Bradford: Quit whining that these World Series games are so late

Rob Bradford
October 30, 2017 - 2:17 pm

USA Today Sports

I was like many of you.

When the Astros pulled ahead by three runs heading into the ninth inning Sunday night, I gave up. The nightly routine was put in motion, taking Melatonin while scrolling through Twitter until nighty-night time came calling. But as I started going through the tweets, it became clear that it was probably a mistake to jump ship on Game 5 of this World Series, even if the kid's ride to school was now just 6 hours away.

So I fought through the effects of my sleep aide and arrived back in front of my television in time to see the Dodgers' Chris Taylor tie things up. After that I stayed for a while longer, ultimately giving up after the visitors' half of the 10th inning. It had been five hours of baseball, and that seemed like enough to turn to the DVR for the rest. (When you're technically recording "Entertainment Tonight" and "Bones," you know the network's schedule has been thrown out of whack.)

According to my Fitbit, I went to sleep at 1:29 a.m. and woke up 4 hours and 34 minutes later to the news that the Astros ultimately won in that same inning I gave up in. Oh well.

The lesson learned? It really didn't matter if I saw it live or not. Through social media, I could quickly digest all the important elements of that last half inning, along with the postgame reaction. And then I could fast forward to the important bits and pieces thanks to my television's recording device.

All of it offered yet another example of why all this complaining that these be-all, end-all baseball games are on too late is sort of silly.

Of course, it would be great if the younger demographic this game is trying to reel in could witness these games live. I know I'm still stung by my parents' decision to make me go to bed and not watch Willie Randolph hand deliver Carl Yastrzemski's 3,000th hit. But such pie-in-the-sky priorities simply don't mean that much anymore.

First of all, let's just offer up the reminder that this whole thing is controlled by money. And in this case, the money is the network getting paid off on its investment. Remember, the Red Sox didn't know what time they were playing a postseason game this year until just a few hours before because of the network's desire to put the Yankees and their New York market in the most valuable time slot.

FOX Sports gets its primetime gold mine, starting at 8 p.m, Eastern Time Zone, with Game 5 handily beating Sunday Night Football. And then, when the real drama unfolds at 1 a.m., the internet is there to pick up the slack. People do exactly what I did, going to social media to digest the kind of storylines that will put all of us back in front of the television when the next game rolls around.

This is how the cycle works. Nobody has to wait until the 6 p.m. news the next day to watch those 3,000th hits anymore.

The power of late night television is stronger than ever thanks to this exact dynamic just referenced. There was probably no better example than ESPN's short-lived decision to dip its toes in the Barstool Sports waters with a show at 1 a.m. It wasn't about people staying up, it was about what they would get when they woke up.

And we aren't even talking about the notion that even this double-header-length Game 5 ended at a reasonable hour on the West Coast. I'm no math major, but I do believe that it wasn't an 8:20 p.m. start everywhere.

The bottom line is that baseball has not suffered one iota from these games ending in the wee hours. The real winner of this World Series, to date, is the game itself. And for that it can thank two really, really good teams and the reality that all the conversation doesn't end when the Melatonin kicks in.