The Detroit Tigers have been starting home games at 6:40 p.m. in April and September for a few years because it can be so cold in the D as we head out of winter and also into fall. That makes all the sense in the world. But this season they decided to start all the home games at this time, even on the longest days on the calendar. Now, to be clear, there are bigger problems in the world, but it must be said that the experiment is creating some weird realities.
A.J. Hinch's club, which is nine games under .500 but still only four games out of first place in the gross AL Central, has split the first two games of a three-game series with the lowly Kansas City Royals. Monday night's contest ran two hours and 20 minutes and would been even quicker had the Tigers not exploded for five runs in the bottom of the seventh. Last night was a 1-0 pitcher's duel that was all wrapped up in two hours and 11 minutes.
We had seventh innings beginning at 8:05 ET and eighth innings beginning at 8:15. And honestly, I hate it.
Major League Baseball's inaugural pitch clock season has been a major success. Games are crisper and much of the fat has been trimmed away. On the whole, this is great for viewers and perhaps less great for those who attend and might not feel like they got their money's worth. It was a change aimed at courting more fans and making sure they had a good time and we should never go back.
But call me crazy, I'd also like to be able to watch the game. Even as a dad with a downright hellacious 5 p.m.-9 p.m. block that bunches together dinner, bath time, and the hostage negotiations politely referred to as bedtime. It's never been a problem before and, in fact, jumping into a contest already in progress and in the middle innings was just fine because the most pivotal moments were ahead.
That's no longer a viable option when the final out is being recorded at 8:52 p.m. as it was last evening.
To steal a line from Greg Cote, back in my day Tigers games started at 7:30 and went until 11 p.m. That's far too late for many who would have to drive back and get up for work in the morning. But it was something that you could look forward to after eating and before going to bed. It seems the Tigers either don't know or no longer care that many of their fans eat dinner. It's not accidentally European to still be working on dessert or doing the dishes at 6:40 p.m.
If we've solved the pace of play problem, there's absolutely no reason games cannot begin at 7:05 p.m. or even 7:15. I really want baseball to succeed and move along nicely. But I would also like to be able to watch my preferred team without racing around like an absolute madman to accomplish everything before sitting down.
There's no world where a closer should be warming up during Final Jeopardy. It's an abomination. Even if you think this is nothing more than personally privileged whining, you should consider if it's working against the stated goals of drawing interest and drawing eyeballs.
So please. This is a cry for sanity. Like Jack in LOST I am standing before you disheveled and disoriented saying we need to go back. And not evolve so quickly that the night games are over before the sun even sets.