It's about time: Young fans want earlier Orioles starts


BOWIE -- Baseball's younger fans want the Orioles to become more like their minor-league teams.

They enjoy watching major-league baseball but say games are too long and end too late. All 30 of the 12-year-old and younger fans interviewed at Prince George's County Stadium on Thursday want the Orioles' home games to start at 7:05 p.m., the game time for the Double-A Bowie Baysox and Single-A Frederick Keys.

"I have to leave Orioles games around the seventh inning," said Ben Minor, 12. "Don't they know we have to get to bed early, especially when we have school?"

Only 29 of the Orioles' 81 home games start earlier than 7:35 p.m. Beginning Aug. 26, the remaining four Friday home games will start at 8:05 p.m., which means that they probably will not end before 11 p.m.

Younger fans say the best Orioles schedule for them would be 7:05 p.m. starts on weekdays and 1:35 p.m. starts on weekends.

"I go to a lot of Orioles games, but I like going on Sunday the best," said David Haas, 11. "That's when we stay for the entire game."

The Orioles are one of only four American League teams to schedule a majority of their home games after 7:30 p.m. The Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays are the other teams that regularly start at 7:35 p.m.

Some of the younger fans say they are turned off by Orioles games that end close to 11 p.m.

Through Wednesday's game, the Orioles have averaged 3 hours, 11 minutes to complete a game. The Baysox average 36 minutes less.

"That's the biggest reason why I like coming to see the Baysox," Will Fletcher, 12, said. "Their games go a lot faster. I usually see the whole game."

A few of the younger fans haven't been able to see Orioles closer Lee Smith pitch at Camden Yards because they have to leave so early.

Most of the fans say that a start time 30 minutes earlier would help, but some suggested more drastic measures.

"They can't start the games early enough," Minor said. "Hey, what about 6:30 [p.m.]?"

They just want something done that shows the Orioles are considering their feelings.

"Anything would be a step in the right direction," Jonathan Mills, 12, said. "Maybe cut down the time between innings. That seems like forever. Just do something."

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