Keep in mind that of all the sports, baseball is really the only one that’s rooted deep into the day-to-day traditions and musings of America. Ironically, baseball was “invented” in Japan, and basketball here in the United States – go figure! Yet given that and given the fact that the NFL is America’s most popular league, it’s baseball that will always be regarded as our national past time. Before you suggest that I’m wrong, think about how often you use the term he hit it out of the park, or here’s my sales pitch.
So with that said, there are many things that keep baseball as part of our national psyche, and the biggest one is probably the fact that it’s a summer sport. Summer brings memories of vacation, good times, etc. And in saying that, summer and baseball go hand-in-hand. However given the whole summertime motif, the image of baseball with regard to summer vacation always seems to be rooted in the afternoon.
Keep in mind that for years and years – certainly throughout the gilded age of the sport – we didn’t have the ability to have games at night. However as sports on TV became bigger and bigger, this technology suddenly became available to team owners (translated: it became cost effective). But the fact is that the roots of the game in American culture are represented by afternoon games.
The Baltimore Orioles play a few mid-week day games over the course of the schedule. Obviously in contemporary times mid-week day games are often associated only with the Chicago Cubs, who have always stayed “loyal” to the tradition of baseball in the afternoon. Granted as time has gone on they’ve played more night games, however for the most part a lot of their home schedule (during the week) falls in the afternoon.
Undoubtedly, teams have done studies over time as to which start time(s) work best on certain days. In Baltimore, I suspect that the way the Orioles have their schedule set up is probably for the best. The O’s will host the occasional day game during the week when the team has a decent distance to travel afterwards in terms of going on the road. For instance, next week they conclude a series with Detroit at Camden Yards only to play in Kansas City the next night. The series finale (Wednesday) will be at 12:30 PM so as to give both teams some extra time for travel.
However I suspect that in general, the O’s would prefer to play most weekday home games at night, which is why most of them are scheduled as such. The Orioles even schedule their Saturday home games predominantly in the evenings, with a few exceptions. So for the most part fans who want to see afternoon baseball have to wait until Sunday. And this is true in most parks across the country.
I would submit that an additional afternoon matinee here and there wouldn’t hurt the Baltimore fans. Obviously the Cubs don’t seem to have a problem drawing fans during the week. I say this because as a semi-historian of the game, I do feel that it’s important that we (as bearers of the torch so to speak) hold true to the roots of the game and to it’s past. It’s also worth mentioning that there might even be a percentage of the fan base that would prefer this on a regular basis. Moms at home with their kids might not be opposed to taking them to the ballpark for an afternoon game here and there. If it’s early or late in the season, there are also college students who might appreciate being able to skip class (yeah, I said it) and attend a game.
Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays generally feature an afternoon game or two, as those are the days we see teams traveling after league play. Is it that big of an issue? Probably not. It’s just another way in which the game has evolved. For the most part, I agree that most teams are going to draw their biggest crowds in prime time when it comes to mid-week games. However on a bit more frequent basis than they already do, would it kill teams to throw us traditionalists an extra bone?!
Tags: Baltimore Orioles