The two playoff series that brought the Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox together for the 114th World Series produced all sorts of exciting moments and interesting storylines.
Or so I’ve heard.
When Manny Machado caused both benches to empty with what the Milwaukee Brewers felt was a “dirty” attempt to injure first baseman Jesús Aguilar in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series, I had been slumbering peacefully for an hour.
When Red Sox outfielder Andrew Benintendi saved Game 4 of the American League Championship Series with a diving catch in the bottom of the ninth inning against the Houston Astros, I was sitting in front of my television … fast asleep in my La-Z-Boy.
There was not enough Diet Coke in the house to keep me around for Machado’s 10th-inning antics or the rally that finally allowed the Dodgers to walk off in the 13th. The game started Tuesday night at 9:09 p.m. on the East Coast, so Machado’s controversial ankle clip happened well after 1 a.m. and the game ended at 2:25.
I almost hung in there for Benintendi’s dramatic grab with the bases loaded and the Astros almost certain to win if Alex Bregman’s sinking line drive got past him. That game ended at 1:13 a.m on the East Coast.
There are other examples, such as the decisive Game 5 of the AL Division Series that ended with the Red Sox barely surviving a ninth-inning rally by the New York Yankees. But that one ended relatively early — for any night game involving the Sox and Yanks — at 11:35.
OK, I realize that this is not a new issue. Major League Baseball has been trying for years to cut down the sport’s average time of game and figure out a way to balance the needs of the television rights holders with the importance of making the games accessible to a new generation of fans.
It’s just not possible to make everyone happy when the most important and biggest-revenue games have to be broadcast across four time zones.
The networks that compete to air the World Series pay billions of dollars for that privilege, so you can’t blame them for wanting to give fans in Southern California 30 minutes or so to get home from work in an area where rush hour now lasts for most of the day.
What that creates, however, is a situation where half the kids that MLB hopes will grow into the next generation of paying customers can’t stay up past midnight to watch baseball on a school night — at least, not the ones whose parents want them to get into college someday.
Baseball already has two strikes against it in an age when there are so many entertainment choices for young people that it’s already hard enough to keep their attention on a slow-moving game that used to advertise itself as “pastoral.”
When I hear the word “pastoral,” I picture beautiful meadows teeming with sheep which I try to count and fall asleep right before Machado does something stupid that I wish I would have seen in real time.
Really, I’m not that old. It’s just that — like a lot of people — I’ve got stuff to do before noon the next day.
Still, I’m going to stay up for every game of this year’s World Series if it requires me to test positive for banned stimulants. And it might since every game is scheduled to start after 8:09 p.m. on this coast and expected to last an average of four hours.
The matchup between the Dodgers and Red Sox, which is just the opposite of the matchup I predicted in these pages before the start of the NLCS and ALCS, is compelling for a number of reasons.
First of all, I — like just about everyone outside the reach of the New England Sports Network (NESN) — hate the Red Sox, even though they don’t cheat nearly as much as the New England Patriots.
I also cannot afford to miss another Manny eruption, because we at The Baltimore Sun will be following anything he does between now and the day he signs one of the most ridiculous contracts in baseball history.
It’s the World Series, for God’s sake, and if features two historic franchises with terrific star power.
Call in sick if you have to.