The Yankees lost two out of three games to the Angels this week. The good news is that we saw Aaron Judge hit a big homer, because that’s what behemoths do. We also saw a bomb from Gary Sanchez, grand slam robbery from Aaron Hicks, and a pretty solid start from Masahiro Tanaka.
Except we didn’t actually see any of this because we were asleep.
East coast sports fans have long been at the mercy of west coast start times. It happens in every sport. There’s nothing worse than checking the schedule and seeing your team — or in my case, your fantasy player — is up for Sunday or Monday Night Football. You find yourself actively rooting for a blowout, in either direction, just so you’re not up until midnight. Have mercy if it goes to overtime. It’s the same story in the NBA, the NHL, and the MLB.
Baseball is an escape. You bust your hump at work all day. All you want to do is come home to watch Judge steal Stomper’s tee shirt gun and send a ball from Oakland to San Francisco at a reasonable hour. Instead, you go to sleep when the game starts and wake up in the morning to find out that Judge sent a ball to San Francisco via ESPN notifications on your phone. That’s not living.
Before we go any further, I want to preface this by saying that I know this is ridiculous. The Yankees play 11 games on the west coast this year, and only seven of those start at 9:35 PM or later. The league has bigger issues to worry about than my beauty sleep. That being said, it’s not going to stop me from arguing this because I’m tired and we live in a petty world.
My proposal is a simple one: When a west coast team is hosting an east coast team, no games can start after 5 PM PST.
First, we must acknowledge that this will never be agreed upon. West coasters and east coasters are understandably at odds here. The two perspectives go something like this:
Suck it up, New York. It’s seven days out of your year. I’ve been waiting to see the Yankees come to town all season. I’d have to leave work early or take off to get tickets to that game. Even if I don’t get tickets, I can only watch the end of the game by the time I get home from work. Not cool.
We don’t care, LA. You guys have the beach, weather, and amazing burritos. We have rats. Just let us have this. The end of the game is better than no game. A 10:05 PM start means no game for me. Not cool.
See? Nothing is cool.
Despite the divisive viewpoints, starting west coast games at 5 PM PST does have its advantages. In its current arrangement, games starting after 10 PM EST lose an entire coast’s viewership. The late start time likely benefits local ticket sales and ratings, but if the majority of east coast fans over the age of 25 aren’t tuning in, it’s still a net loss. The 5 PM Rule, however, may see a small dip in local ticket sales and ratings, but the boost from east coast viewership should exceed those losses.
The 5 PM Rule isn’t ideal for the west coast. It will make it more difficult to attend games for east coast transplants, west coast-born fans of east coast teams, or anyone just looking for some unfamiliar baseball. If you aren’t attending the game, you can try your best to watch at work in a hidden browser, but you’ll most likely end up catching the last few innings at a bar or at home. I empathize. This is not ideal.
The fact is, day baseball does exist. Weekday games are played every week and they’re great, if you have the luxury to attend. When scheduled correctly, a three or four game set out west can result in two weekend games. This gives you more opportunities to go to a game if weekdays just aren’t possible.
Look, San Diego, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, and Seattle: I know this isn’t fair to ask of you. Time zones aren’t your fault. We have Sir Sandford Fleming, the Scottish-born Canadian engineer and founder of time zones to thank for that. Let’s blame him. The ugly truth is that the MLB will never address this because it’s not a big enough issue. Maybe if we work together, we can make these seven games a year a little better for
me everyone. West coast night games are the worst. Let’s end them together.