I had the privilege of going to my first baseball playoff game since I had standing-room tickets for the Orioles and White Sox back when I was a teenager (I've had tickets for other playoff games that ended up going unplayed), and I did something I swore I'd never do: I left a postseason game before it ended. For this I can thank Bud Selig.
As you know, the Rockies-Phillies game didn't start until after 8:00 last night. Game time temperature, depending on who you believe, ranged from 28 to 35, but the cold wasn't really that much of a problem. Everyone was bundled up, and there was as much excitement in the stands as I've ever experienced at a sporting event. Strolling vendors were selling hot cocoa with whipped cream. It wasn't a very well-played game, but it was an exciting one, with lots of back-and-forth momentum, and it was a real thrill to be there.
But between all the walks, and the pitching changes, and the extra TV time between innings, the game just crawled along. The clock ticked past 11:00 sometime in the seventh inning, and I did some quick calculations as to how long we'd be out if we held out till the end. I figured, at that point, that the game would end around midnight, and it would take us about a half hour to get to and out of our parking facility, so we'd be home around 1:00 a.m.
That's just not acceptable. It would be one thing if the game had turned into an extra-inning marathon, but this wasn't the case. I have two boys who needed to be in school today, so after the seventh inning, we decided to cut our losses. We also have tickets for today, which made it easier to leave last night.
But what really grinds my gears about this is that it was so avoidable. As soon as the Dodgers finished their sweep on Saturday, there were three playoff games scheduled for Sunday, with a big gaping hole in the 3:30 Eastern slot. Would it have been so hard, at that point, to announce that the Rox and Phils would play Sunday afternoon? Would it have been so hard to announce that was a possibility at the moment the Dodgers went up two games to zip?
I realize that the whole reason this game was scheduled so late is because there were four games on the schedule for Sunday and they needed to be staggered. But why were there only two games on the schedule for Saturday? If you play them three and three, you don't require one of the games to go past midnight.
We hear all the time that these scheduling foofaraws are the result of doing everything for TV, but the ratings for last night's game had to be horrible anyway. A grand total of one hour of it was on in prime time in Philadelphia. By the time the game ended, the only people watching it would have been in the smallish Denver market - and it was past midnight here, so even that audience couldn't have been that big.
Still and all, it was really thrilling to be there last night, and I don't regret going. I am rather chagrined that we didn't stick it out, but I honestly don't feel responsible for that. Bud Selig and his gang totally screwed this up. I'll be out there this afternoon, and I'm staying till the end, no matter what. I'm not going to let Selig ruin my love of baseball any more than he already has.