Do Late Night Starts Benefit the MLB?

“It was a dark and stormy night.”

That simple sentence is one of the most cliched phrases that usually begin horror stories. It is a phrase that is sometimes used for comedic effect in television sitcoms to set up the plot for a show. It also can describe the poor weather that plagued Cleveland last night.

Sitting inside FlipSide restaurant in Hudson, my friends and I looked at one of the television screens and saw the Indians game against the Tampa Bay Rays had gone into weather delay. The tarp was on put on the field at least three times and playing baseball that night seemed unlikely.

As I climbed into bed and turned on the TV, I flipped on the Indians game around 11:00 pm and saw it was still in a weather delay. I thought to myself that it would be doubtful if the game would be played at all that night and figured I would be reading about a doubleheader being scheduled the next morning.

I checked the Internet earlier this morning thinking I would see that the game was postponed and instead, I saw the Rays defeated the Tribe 9-2. When reading the recap, I saw the game started at around 12:13 am and ended almost three hours after the first pitch.

I couldn’t help but wonder why the game was played that late and if the MLB really benefited from not having to schedule a makeup date. The Rays are only in Cleveland this weekend and don’t return, which may have prompted such a late start. The game was done and out of the way but I wondered what benefit the league gained by allowing the game to start past midnight.

I also found it odd this decision game a little over 24 hours after the St. Louis Cardinals and the Kansas City Royals waited out a four-hour and 32 minute rain delay to play the ninth inning. Similar to the Rays playing against the Indians, the Royals did not have any scheduled stops in St. Louis later on this season. The game could have been called when the rain poured in the eighth inning hours earlier but the umpiring crew made MLB’s two lone teams from Missouri wait it out to play one inning.

Both of these situations seemed odd and scheduling a makeup date may have been the better alternative in the long run. When both of these games ended, it was doubtful that many fans were watching the end on TV or in the stands. Sitting through a rain delay is hard to do as a fan and with the games being continued to the wee hours of the morning, most fans may have preferred to set the DVR and watch it the next day.

Advertising revenue is a way the TV networks and teams bring in additional funds each season and in this economic time, marketing dollars are held very tightly by those who need to promote a product or service. Having a product placed and promoted at a professional sporting event can help a business earn additional exposure. The purpose is to have the advertisement when the most fans can view it on TV or in the stadium. With both of these games ending as late as they did, it is questionable if the marketing message these sponsors wanted to make could fully serve its purpose.

Ending these games late at night may have saved a makeup date from being scheduled but what did the league gain in the end?





~ by jeffrsabo on June 1, 2013.

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