It’s quite warm outside. It’s the sort of day where it would be nice to find air conditioned shelter in a licensed establishment with chilled air, a couple of good cold IPAs on draft, and large-screen televisions tuned to the Red Sox.
Unfortunately, the televisions tuned to the Red Sox are in short supply, as our beloved (and happily surging) team is spending ten days in the wilderness, wandering up and down the Pacific Coast, on a trip that is ripe with starting times past 10 p.m. on the clocks of the Hub of the Universe.
Last night’s game in Anaheim was one of the most entertaining games of the year. It started with a really good pitchers’ duel, lots of Sox left on base, and a couple of costly Angels errors. The Sox broke it open in the eighth, when with no outs and a runner on second, the Angels chose to pitch to pinch-hitter David Ortiz. The second pitch to Ortiz landed in the right field stands, and the biggest error of the night went to Angels manager Mike Scioscia for not sending Papi to first with an intentional walk. Papi’s dinger landed at about 1:00 a.m. in the Time Zone of the Hub of the Universe, which meant that it was lost to all but the sleepless, DVR devotees, and those who consume their baseball by watching Sox in Two.
To quote the Honorable Governor William J. Le Petomane, “Harrumph! Harrumph! Harrumph!”
One doesn’t need to spend much time listening to sports radio, or reading the baseball columns of American newspapers, before you hear righteous indignation about inter-league play. Somehow, an occasional series across league lines is a moral travesty, in which the White Sox versus the Cubs, the Mets versus the Yankees, or any other mixed mating of American and National League teams is contrary to the will of the Baseball Gods.
Why? Why is a Red Sox road trip to a convenient, east coast, tourist friendly city an anathema to the Baseball Gods, while a 10:05 p.m. start in territory that should have been left to the Pacific Coast League is of no concern?
Now that the movement of the Houston Astros into the American League has created two 15 team leagues, which require at least one inter-league game every day to balance the schedule, we should come to grips with the fact that inter-league play is a necessary element in the baseball schedule. We should also come to grips with the fact that the 10:05 p.m. start is the real affront to the Baseball Gods and all that is wholesome and pure in the Time Zone of the Hub of the Universe.
Fortunately, I have a series of reforms that will solve most of these problems. I hereby urge the Commissioner of Baseball, and those with temporary custody of our National Pastime, to quickly adopt these rules in order to respectfully eliminate the lack of harmony caused by the current baseball schedule and alignment.
1. The 8:30 rule. Under this new scheduling rule, a game may not start later that 8:30 p.m. in the visiting team’s time zone. If a Pacific Coast team is hosting a team from the TIme Zone of the Hub of the Universe, the game can’t start any later than 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time. A west coast game against a Central Time team could not start any later than 6:30 p.m. Pacific Time. Under this rule, East Coast fans can watch their beloved teams, and Pacific Coast fans could hit the restaurants and bars after the game.
2. Green Scheduling. Under the current schedule, you play 18 games against each of your divisional rivals. It’s an interesting rivalry for the American League East, with four out of five teams above .500, but consider that every American League Central team now gets to fatten up on 18 games with the Houston Astros. A little more balance is in order, but that balance shouldn’t come three time zones away. Let’s reduce the number of games on the opposite coast, and schedule more games closer to home. I would happily trade in games in Oakland, Anaheim, and Seattle for games in Flushing, Philadelphia, and Washington. A green schedule would mean the Red Sox would play more games against the N.L. East, fewer games against the A.L. West. Given that the Seattle Mariners have the worst travel schedule in Major League Baseball, the prospects of more games in San Francisco and Los Angeles would be great news for fans and team management alike.
3. The Designated Hitter Problem. I’m not much of a fan of the DH, though I love David Ortiz. The Red Sox offense is built around the DH, which is not the trend outside Boston. Many teams have abandoned the concept of a permanent DH, instead using the position to give a position player a day off from the field.
My solution is a modified inter-league DH rule. When American League and National League teams play each other, regardless of the city, a modified DH rule would be in effect. Under the modified inter-league rule, the DH would be in the game as long as the starting pitcher is in the game. When the starting pitcher is replaced, the DH could replace a player on the field or would leave the game. This gives you a DH well into the game, but also gives you the fun of double-switches and other managerial strategy once the starting pitcher is removed from the game.
So, my friends, let’s put an end to the long string of late night games, and let’s bring meaningful reforms to the baseball schedule that will bring joy to eastern baseball fans and pay proper tribute to the Baseball Gods.
The objectionable string of West Coast Red Sox Baseball in 2013:
Friday, July 5 10:05 p.m. @ Anaheim
Saturday, July 6 10:05 p.m. @ Anaheim (Whatever happened to weekend day games?)
Sunday, July 7 8:05 p.m. @ Anaheim
Monday, July 8 10:10 p.m. @ Seattle
Tuesday, July 9 10:10 p.m. @ Seattle
Wednesday, July 10 10:10 p.m. @ Seattle
Thursday, July 11 3:40 p.m. @ Seattle
Friday, July 12 10:05 p.m. @ Oakland
Saturday, July 13 10:05 p.m. @ Oakland (Whatever happened to weekend day games?)
Sunday, July 14 4:05 p.m. @ Oakland
The Red Sox also play six inter-league games against the N.L. West Giants (August 19-21) and Dodgers (August 23-25).