Saturday, October 28, 2006

Dumbest Idea Ever

With the rain and cold at the World Series this week, I heard the following proposal more than once: Move the World Series to a warm-weather neutral site.

No chance of a Subway Series in Gotham. No more World Series games at historic Fenway Park or Wrigley Field. (OK, that last one is sort of a moot point.) Move all games to some plastic place like The BOB in Phoenix or Enron Field in Houston. (Or whatever their names are this year.) Forget about the loyal fans who supported the participants for six months, let's move the games somewhere with a retractable roof so the Fox Fall TV Lineup won't get messed up. Oh my, what's that, empty seats at a World Series game?

The idiots who are in favor of this idea think that baseball can follow the same business model as football, but they are so wrong. Football is much more of a TV sport. Baseball is best observed live. Baseball set an all-time attendance record this year, but has trouble getting TV ratings. To the TV networks, the fans in the stands are just props and extras in their fall programming. So what if they are freezing to death, they should be happy to be on TV! The Lords of Baseball shouldn't be allowing this to happen.

The problem is not the open-air stadiums in St. Louis and Detroit. With three rounds of playoffs subject to the scheduling whims of Fox, the games have gotten pushed back nearly to November, so of course it's going to be cold for a game that doesn't start until 8:23 p.m. The last time the Cards and Tigers hooked up in 1968 (the last year before divisional play began), Game 7 of the World Series was played the afternoon of Oct. 10, NINETEEN days earlier than what would have been Game 7 this year. The first World Series games scheduled at night were in 1971, and it's been all downhill since.

Start the regular season earlier, shorten it to 154 games, play a few doubleheaders, finish by Sept. 20, and don't let TV dictate the playoff schedule. After years of screwing over the customers who go through the turnstiles in order to squeeze every possible dollar out of TV, MLB should turn back the clock and play a few World Series games during the day when, believe it or not, it is warmer than in the middle of the night. To get the marketing gurus on board, call it retro, like outfield walls that are crooked for no particular reason.

Just please, please, please, slowly back away from the Dumbest Idea EVER.

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