While many are already calling it “a classic,” the fact is that game three of the 2018 World Series, a literal snore-fest between the Red Sox and the Dodgers, was symptomatic of baseball’s two core problems. The games start too late and take way too long.
Imagine, if you will, a playoff game in basketball, hockey or football – even one that went into double overtime, or a major golf tournament that went to sudden death, or a Grand Slam tennis match with extended tiebreakers, ending at 3:30am eastern time. It’s beyond absurd. Baseball schedules its most compelling and important games, even if they take the standard 9 innings, to end when much of its fan base is entering into REM sleep.
Baseball, the sport I love and the sport now utterly obsessed with analytics, might process this astonishing bit of data: Game 3 of the 2018 World Series took longer to play than the entire 1939 series, a Yankees sweep over the Reds. By the way, the second game of that series, with a score of 4-0, lasted 87 minutes. One can imagine that Monte Pearson, who started for the Yankees, did not spend much time on the mound shaking off his catcher.
An argument can be made that last night was an anomaly. After all, the teams played the equivalent of two games. I ain’t buying it. The game lasted a stupefying seven hours and twenty minutes. That’s longer than two Springsteen concerts, including encores. Sure, you love The Boss, but enough is enough. Can anyone appreciate the nuances of a pick-off move at 1:15 in the morning?
The bigger problem is this: Cut the time of last night’s “long day’s journey in a 3-2 score” in half and it still would have run three hours and forty minutes, and ended close to midnight on the east coast. Why don’t these games start at 7? Why aren’t extra innings games decided by a home-run derby – or purists, if you hate that idea because it sounds too exciting – why not suspend games, I don’t know, say after five hours and twelve minutes or 2:01 in the morning, whichever comes first? Why not mandate that managers visit the mound on hoverboards? Why not do something anything, to add some novelty and speed up the game?
Statistics are not currently available for what time last night’s post game show ended, but here’s a safe bet: It was an absolute thriller, albeit the longest post-game show in post-season history, ending just as the sun was rising over Beantown. And still, baseball doesn’t get it.
Red Sox manager Alex Cora said, “It was a great baseball game. People back home are probably waking up to the end. But it’s probably one of the best, if not the best, game I’ve ever been a part of.”
Alex, it’s lovely to hear that you enjoyed yourself, but it’s not about you. If a chef makes his best meal ever and his guests fall asleep in the soup because they’re too tired to slurp it, the supper has not gone well.
Likewise, last night’s game did not go well. It was an interminable slog into Morning Joe’s start time, though Morning Joe himself, a rabid Red Sox fan, was undoubtedly asleep at Mika’s side when the game mercifully ended. To add insult to injury, the game ended about 20 minutes before monastery monks traditionally arise, so even they were unable to enjoy the scintillating finish.
Following the game, former MLB commissioner Bowie Kuhn said, “I’m glad I‘m dead so I didn’t have to sit through it.”